2018 Top Six Supervisor Finalists Great Supervisor Stories
She Was in My Exact Same Boat
“I was able to show her that not only is this doable, but doable very quickly”
Over the last year I've been working with a CXR on a personal issue in addition to her normal skills. One day, I witnessed this CXR sobbing and distressed in the hallway. Curious and appalled, I asked her what was going on and if there was anything I could do for her. She told me that she had no way to pay her car insurance as she didn't get paid again for over a week. Her insurance coverage was going to lapse if something drastic didn't happen. Luckily for her, I had just switched to a new insurance company myself and was saving nearly 50% off my old rate. Now, you may think that this one thing helped changed her SQM numbers but that would be a pretty boring story, and honestly, just a GEICO commercial. The reason that I was saving 50% off my old rate was because I had recently decided to get out of debt by using the Dave Ramsey plan. I was looking at a mountain of over $40,000 in debt. You name the debt, I had it. Credit cards, auto, 401(k) loans. All the goodies. Needless to say, I was looking at any way to cut costs in my budget in order to throw more money at my debt. Hearing a deeper-rooted issue between the CXR's tears, I decided to pry a little in our next coaching session. She was in my exact same boat. To gauge her interest, I told her about the journey I had begun a few months prior. She was very interested in achieving financial peace. First thing I did was lend her my copy of The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. There was no way I was going to have her buy it. She read the book cover to cover in a number of days. She was just as excited to get to work on this as I was to help her with it. Next, I gave her my budget template and we put that in to action. I also worked with her on paring down costs, where to shop, and how to trim that budget down to beans and rice/rice and beans (not my term).
The first tenet of Dave's plan (The Baby Steps) is to save $1,000 in a starter emergency fund. I worked with this CXR to get a separate account set up at her credit union to help with this. We then figured out how much to divert into this account. In just a few short paycheck cycles, she had her $1,000! I asked her in a coaching session shortly thereafter if she'd ever had $1,000 in savings before. She told me that in her entire life she'd never had that much saved up. Some may think to look down on such a small amount, but not me. Again, we were in the same boat. I, myself, had never had $1,000 in savings prior to starting this plan. We were both able to celebrate this monumental win. It was here that the really tough work began. With an airtight budget and her $1,000 emergency fund I got her on to Baby Step 2. This step utilizes a debt snowball to clear the debt as quickly as possible. My CXR rose to the challenge and still continually reports on her progress. She has paid off all of her credit cards and is now working on her car loan. With the snowball method she is throwing hundreds of extra dollars at that loan per month. I was happy to report to her that I had recently completed my journey to be debt free. In doing so, I was able to show her that not only is this doable, but doable very quickly.
As the journey continued, I was tracking her data.
- 2017’s Calls Resolved was 91%. 2018, increased to 94%.
- 2017's CSAT was also 91%. 2018, increased to 95%.
- 2017, 5% of her 140 surveys were Action Alert Calls. 2018, only 2% of her 130 surveys were Action Alert Calls.
- Most importantly, she met her Development Plan of being a World Class CXR in 2018 and achieved an overall distinguished rating on her metrics.
Some other things to remember about this representative are we had to put a lot of resources in to this rep prior to starting this journey. We had to give her a mentor because her accuracy was never where it needed to be. We continually worked with her, but we couldn't get her beyond giving inaccurate or incomplete information. Ultimately, we had to put her on an improvement plan due to her performance issues. I'm elated to share that this never happens anymore, reaching a Commendable rating for her 2018 accuracy. The amount of errors she receives in a six-month timeframe used to be received every month!
I've learned a great deal about humans in the workplace in helping my employee with this problem. I've had a lot of leaders over the years tell me to "leave my problems at the door." I don't think any one of us can just drop our entire personal life at the door, put on a smile, and make it through the day. It would be exhausting faking it that much. Personal issues are no different than work issues or metrics we measure. Personal issues also need addressing, coaching, and help. I've found that if you can help and empower someone to clean up areas of their personal life that need to be cleaned up, the results at work will automatically improve. In this case, they did so beautifully.
Drew Shirack – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas
The First to Offer a Helping Hand
“Kathy has helped me see my potential”
For the past year, we have been redeveloping our approach to our customers. The new model we’ve adopted puts caring about the member at its forefront. Kathy Cordonnier is one supervisor who has embraced these new priorities, probably because she already has such great compassion for both her staff and our members. One example of this would be when she personally handled a claims issue for a recent widower regarding his late wife. Kathy made it a priority to ensure his issues were addressed and resolved. Ultimately, she was able to determine the provider was in violation of contract and our member was refunded over $8,000! This resolution was achieved because Kathy personally invested in the issue and treated the member the way she would want to be treated as if she were mourning the loss of her spouse.
Kathy cares deeply for all her staff and is genuinely invested in their success. She is selfless when it comes to helping them be successful in meeting their personal goals. Kathy is willing to help in any way possible and is always looking for improvements. In fact, she is so innovative in the way she coaches her staff, the processes she uses within her team have been expanded across the call center as a best practice amongst us. She is the first to offer a helping hand and always does everything within her power to deliver a positive Customer Experience.
This year, Kathy’s entire team is World Class Certified. I am beyond proud of Kathy and her team’s accomplishments. It gives me goosebumps to recall how passionate she was when she told me in early 2018 that she would be a World Class Certified Supervisor and everyone on her team would be World Class Certified as well. It is through her leadership and care for her staff that they have achieved this goal.
- “Kathy is an amazing boss. She shows empathy when needed, understands that life happens, she lets her team be the shining stars that she knows they are without micromanaging! If something needs attention, she isn’t ever afraid of sitting down with us individually and asking if there is anything she can do to help. She makes our jobs less stressful.”
- “Kathy encourages all of her staff. She is good at letting everyone know how they are doing and when they get compliments from members. This lets the whole team be a part of showing encouragement to one another. Kathy also gives us her knowledge when she goes to any classes or seminars to help us better understand how we can help our members even more with what she has learned. Her enthusiasm makes it feel like an opportunity to help our members.”
- “I have been with Kathy for a little over a year. When I came to the team, I was a little lost and feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere. Kathy has spent time with me and helped me see my potential. She and her lead work hard every day on making sure we feel like a team. We celebrate our achievements together and they always have an ear to listen to us when we are struggling. There is a strong sense of support and family with our team. We work together to achieve our personal goals as well as team goals. She is there to back you up when you need it with her support and there to help pick you back up when you stumble. She has a great passion for our company as well as our members. She set the standards high so we can achieve the best for ourselves as well as our members. She works hard every day to be the best she can be, and it shows us that we can do the same.”
Kathy Cordonnier – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City
Cornerstones of Success
“Brenda’s impact on company culture is indisputable”
Brenda Parker’s commitment to customer service and servant-style leadership is both outstanding and inspiring. Her commitment has enabled the fostering of an unparalleled culture of pride and passion for customer service. Key to this culture is Brenda’s development of MiniPODs and the Growth and Development program. Both endeavors have resulted in clear improvements in CSR empowerment and morale while bolstering FCR and call resolution. In fact, based on their great success in Brenda’s location, both initiatives were adopted organization-wide and have become cornerstones of the contact center’s approach to customer service.
Brenda’s first initiative, the MiniPOD concept, began as an idea back in 2017. The MiniPOD partners with CSRs to develop and present material in small interactive peer groups. Brenda first presented the idea to her peers and then offered to pilot the concept in her location. During the pilot, Brenda led a team that developed, tested, re-vamped, and re-tested the concept. The pilot results were impressive and contributed to the measurable success of her contact center. With the completion of the pilot, Brenda introduced the program to all five contact centers with the help of the Training Advisory Group. The program’s initial success was similarly replicated in the other centers with clear gains in morale, engagement, CSR empowerment, FCR, and call resolution. Brenda continues to manage the state-wide program and has recently added a participant feedback mechanism that uses a five-star rating system similar to Google and Yelp. This allows her to receive feedback and continually improve the program. Due to its positive impact, Brenda’s MiniPOD initiative has now been recognized as an SQM Best Practice Award Finalist.
Brenda’s other initiative was the Growth and Development coaching program, which is also a Finalist for an SQM Best Practice Award. The initiative was born from an identified need in her location to increase CSR participation and engagement around quality and development. Addressing this need, Brenda became a key contributor to the creation of the Growth and Development program. The program utilizes both the Quality Coach and Team Leader to lead CSRs through interactive coaching sessions. The sessions are designed to promote CSR self-discovery, empower CSRs in their own development, and encourage CSRs to reach their fullest potential. Brenda played a substantial role in piloting and fine-tuning the program. After the pilot demonstrated great success in call resolution, Brenda helped bring it to all five contact centers, where the initial success continued. The program gained vast support and value as evidenced by survey data and resulted in positive impacts to morale, engagement, empowerment, FCR, union relations, and Customer Experience Indicators.
Brenda’s impact on company culture is indisputable. She has certainly played a role in designing the contact center’s approach to customer service through the development of both MiniPODs and the Growth and Development program. The significance of these initiatives continues to ripple throughout the company and beyond as we eagerly await Brenda’s future contributions to company success.
Brenda Parker – Consumers Energy
The Team’s Success is Always on Her Mind
“She is what keeps me happy in my position”
There are certain moments along your career when you meet individuals who overwhelmingly exude a passion and dedication to the success and growth of their employees. I happen to work with one of these people and her name is Anda.
Anda’s approach to all our CSRs, not just her direct reports, is one of inclusion and constant support. She embraces a “win together” mentality which also creates a true sense of team. With 100% of our customer service department telecommuting, creating this type of culture can be very challenging to say the least. One thing that Anda established was a daily chat session with all CSRs and support staff. This has created real-time dialogue among the team. Questions can be asked and answered, call patterns can be verified, general information is shared, and some friendly conversations can be had. Anda also dives in when additional support is needed. The team is never surprised to find Anda answering emails from our Technical Support Specialist’s (TSS) mailbox when our TSS is unavailable. She never wants the team to skip a beat in being supported. The team’s success is always on her mind.
Dissecting customer service results is second nature to Anda. She does real-time observations and provides in-the-moment coaching. She also works collaboratively with CSRs in reviewing recorded calls. She goes beyond just telling people how they should do something but rather challenges them to find solutions together. She also digs deeper to determine if there is some underlining factor that might be affecting a person’s performance. The relationship and trust she has built with her team help her achieve this close connection. Her genuine approach to supporting and guiding people to be their best is ultimately felt by our customers. The SQM results reflect just a portion of her impact.
I’d like to share a few comments from her team.
- "She is very effective at not only communicating expectations, but also providing support on any topic that may arise.”
- “I feel heard and cared about. She helps guide me in my goals. As a team leader she does her best to ensure we communicate and stay connected.”
- “She is what keeps me happy in my position. She is who I can always turn to on the rare occasion that I get frustrated.”
- “Anda is very down-to-earth, relatable, and straightforward. She is very kind and takes the time to listen. She meets you where you're at and offers suggestions for improvement. Anda's door is always open and she knows her stuff. I love having Anda as my team leader.”
It can be hard to sum up the effect that a person can have on the people they work with. It can also be hard to determine the downstream effect they have on our customers. I can confidently say on behalf of those who daily interact with Anda, that she is seen as a leader, mentor, team player, cheerleader, confidante, and friend. We all know that she is giving it her all to make those around her better and that our customers feel the passion we have. She is World Class.
Anda Imper – Premera Blue Cross
Four Pillar Transition
“What was the real reason for his call?”
Katie presented the SQM Four Pillar Delivery Model to me in a coaching session in fall of 2017. While she was walking through the material and explaining how this model would have such a positive impact on our members, I could see the excitement in her eyes. She stated to me that this will be something that we will live and breathe every day in customer service. She believed in this so unequivocally that she said this would increase our FCR and the overall experience for our members. I can now say, she was right! Katie employs a variety of incredible supervisory duties and initiatives; however, this story is specific to the Four Pillar initiative.
I was able to put this to use in the summer of 2018. A gentleman called in and wanted to pay the other half of his premium, which I found alarming. My first thought was he could not afford the full premium, so what is the cause of him paying so much. What was the real reason for his call? I used the Understand Me Pillar to find out if he was aware that there were options to help with his monthly premium. This gentleman shrugged this off and stated he had already tried everything with his agent to no avail.
To show him the Care About Me Pillar, I asked him if he would allow me to check into his situation a bit further. I explained to him I’ve assisted a few other members who had experienced the same frustration. I then jumped right into Help Me Pillar. This was now a challenge to show that I can help him and that is what I was here for, not to just collect his premium.
Finally, came the time for the Resolve Me Pillar. Together we called the Federal Facilitated Marketplace; there were several issues that had occurred over the course of a few weeks with his eligibility. In the end I was able to get him an Advanced Premium Tax Credit which saved him over $7,000 for the year. This member was so impressed he wrote a letter to my manager on how unexpectedly he was treated and how I went above and beyond to help him since I could see his struggle.
Prior to Katie approaching me with the Four Pillars I cannot guarantee I would have investigated this and understood what the member was really calling for. This is a perfect example of what coaching sessions with Katie have done for me. Coaching is NOT negative and there is always a great learning experience every time we meet. Katie approaches all coaching sessions to ensure the Four Pillars are being used and followed as well as always offering advice and listening to any concerns.
Katie is here for me and the department to live and breathe the Four Pillars and First Call Resolution and I consider it an honor to be on her team.
Katie Johansson – Security Health Plan
A Role Model of Inspiration
“Bridget is everything a leader should be and more”
- “Bridget serves as a ‘phantom farmer’ across the Call Center, creating an environment that is inclusive and engaging for her staff while continuing to deliver on business imperatives. Every action that she takes is done with the utmost level of care, compassion, and thoughtfulness, putting the individual needs of the employee and the business in the forefront not because she has to, but because it is inherent. Bridget simply does not know how to operate in any other way and for that she is an inspiration.”
- “Bridget has been an important role model for me in my career. Without her I would not be where I am today. At one point I was not sure if this company was the right place for me. Soon after I was lucky enough to be placed on her team and from then on, I knew I was where I am meant to be. She completely turned everything around. Having Bridget as an example of what a leader should be is the reason why I am successful at this company. With anything that life throws at me whether it was work-related or in my personal life, she has my back and always supports me in difficult situations. Her genuine kindness and humor are a few of many qualities that can turn any day around for the better. Without her guidance and professionalism, I would not be the woman I am today.”
- “Bridget is everything a leader should be and more. In the time I spent working under her, I was able to see how much she truly cares about her team and the Business Center. Bridget makes an effort to share a bond with everyone. Speaking for myself, I felt that bond before I ever even joined her team. While in training, we established a shared passion for music and art. She made a point to bring me a copy of the local newspaper showcasing one of my favorite bands after they had visited our area. I had never experienced this type of care with a manager at any other job! She made those moments very special for me, and I was able to witness this again and again throughout my time on her team. She made my first impression of this wonderful company so positive. As we were cleaning out our desks here, I pulled out that piece of the newspaper she had brought me in training, and it put a huge smile on my face!”
- “When I first came to Bridget’s team, I was in the middle of a huge skill change and was quite out of my element. I had honestly thought of giving in or giving up. She has such an amazing way of coaching, problem solving, and building up her employees. She mapped out a plan on how I could tackle this latest challenge, tailored to how I learn (this means she took the time to know me and was able to instinctively see in her mind what would work for me). I have witnessed this over and over again during my time on this team. She has a way of saying things that leaves you with confidence, never doubting your abilities.”
- “I have watched Bridget lead by example, always with a very positive attitude. With multiple personalities to work with she handles each situation with grace and dignity, always on a daily basis building up her team. You truly end your day knowing she appreciates you, and yes, every single day. I feel she gives everyone equal opportunity to grow with the team, with projects, mentoring, and meetings, she genuinely values everyone equally and wants to see everyone have an opportunity to support the business and ultimately, our customers.”
Bridget Gaitan – Name Withheld