2016 Top Twenty-Five CSR Finalists Great Customer Service Stories
Status Quo is NOT an Option
“Many in the company ask, 'What would Alex do on this call?'”
Alex Beeks has been recognized as a World Class Advocate for the fourth consecutive year. Last year, she was recognized as one of the top Advocates in North America by SQM. Although Alex considered this an honor to be on the stage at the SQM Awards Banquet, she took it as a challenge to not only get back on stage, but to see several of her coworkers recognized as World Class Advocates and World Class Finalists.
This is likely the last time Alex will be recognized as World Class. Earlier in 2016, Alex moved to a coaching role within her division. Although she still helps with escalations, she understands in 2017 she will probably not receive the number of surveyed calls to be recognized as World Class. However, she is happy to be able to use her World Class knowledge to help the advocates grow and assist her members. Before Alex transitioned into her new role, she was able to spend over half the year assisting members on the phone. Every one of Alex’s calls can be used as examples to the team on how to handle a situation. Many in the company ask, “What would Alex do on this call?” as a way to coach and train new employees.
The following is an example of how Alex takes a typical call and turns it into a great experience:
Alex received a call where a daughter was trying to assist her elderly mother with a health insurance claim issue. Alex started off the call by recognizing the frustration in the member’s voice. She let the daughter vent while she listened. This is one of Alex’s best traits; our members feel a sense of calm to be able to talk and tell their story to her. The caller said her mother had tried to resolve the issue several times with the doctor and had called into our call center. The daughter visited her mother and the mother would not leave the house because she was so worried about this unpaid medical claim. The mother had just received a notice for $800 bill. Alex then stepped in and stated she was the mother’s advocate and would get the issue resolved.
Alex had been researching the issue during the call and knew immediately what the issue was but knew that the issue could not be resolved while the member was on the phone. Once the phone call ended, Alex jumped into action. The issue had to do with the doctor’s office not sending the claim to the health insurance company. Alex immediately called the provider and asked why the claim had not been filed. The response was that their eligibility check showed the member was not covered so they did not file the claim. Alex verified though the web request that they had not checked anything online with this patient, so she asked what ID number they used and discovered the issue. The provider was using an incorrect ID number. When Alex updated them with the ID number, they were able to see eligibility and submit the claim. The next day the claim was submitted and Alex had the claim processed. Once this occurred, she contacted the daughter and mother and let them know the issue has been resolved. Both were very thankful that Alex took ownership of the issue.
Alex had many opportunities in this case to turn the issue back to the member and cause more member confusion and make a bad experience worse.
- Right from the beginning she could have just stated the claim was not on file. Even if she would have stated that information, she would have still had to reach out to the provider after the fact and then followed up with the member once again.
- When Alex researched and saw that the mother did not call in to the service center, she could have stated that back to the member. Instead, knowing that this would not make a difference in the outcome, she kept that to herself focusing on the issue at hand.
Alex said that if she was in a similar situation, she would want herself and her mother to be treated the same. Alex’s thoughts on this call hit home: “As our parents have taken care of us, it is our responsibility to step in and help parents.” This not only applies to parents, but to all customers.
Alex Beeks – BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
This is a Member That I Always Will Remember
“The outreach and caring nature meant more than words could express to the member”
Ceomara Timmons works in the Marketplace call center, which handles phone calls from Affordable Care Act health care recipients. These members can spend hours on end on the healthcare.gov website trying to find out information about health care policies and subsidy information. One fall day, Ceomara received a call from one of these members who was distraught about enrolling in a health plan with BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, effective 1/1/17. The member was looking to move to a particular Silver 14 plan but advised Ceomara that she could not afford the premium of $147.87. After careful questioning, the member advised that she was not working and her husband was the only source of income for their family of three. Unless Ceomara was able to help her find coverage that she could afford, she would no longer be able to have insurance for herself and her daughter, age 20. Ceomara advised her to contact the Federal Marketplace and she would follow up with her to ensure she was able to get the information she needed.
The member contacted the Federal Marketplace about a lower premium option and the Bronze 1 plan was recommended to her at a cost $93.71; unfortunately, this was still not affordable for the member. She had previously applied for Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid to help with her health care costs, but was turned down. Ceomara was concerned for the member and wanted to ensure she was able to get the health care for her daughter, so she continued to follow up to see if there were any updates on the additional assistance from Medicaid.
A week later, Ceomara reached out to the member to see if she had heard any additional information from Medicaid, but the member had not received any new information. She was very emotional and also happy that Ceomara had taken the time to follow up with her. Ceomara promised to follow up again soon and kept her promise in a week. Ceomara reached out again to check on the member and the status of her Medicaid. The member advised again that she was still awaiting a response but was extremely appreciative of Ceomara following up with her as promised.
Ceomara called one last time to check on the member. This time the member had received the best news in a long time and was so thankful of Ceomara’s continued caring efforts to reach out to her. She found out she was eligible for a Silver 14 plan with a premium of $34.56 effective 1/1/17. The member was so happy and grateful to receive this news and for the continued communications from Ceomara. She can now continue to get her anxiety medication due to the persistence of Ceomara.
Although Ceomara could not control the cost of the medical plan, the outreach and caring nature meant more than words could express to the member. This was a difficult time for the member so the feeling of someone being there for her and checking on her was special.
Ceomara Timmons – BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
Negative into Positive
“Michelle had two options. One, take the next call, or two, take accountability and get the issue resolved. ”
Michelle has worked extremely hard to become a World Class Advocate over the past several years and is now a first-time World Class Advocate. She has embraced coaching and looks for ways on each call to resolve the issue and make the experience memorable. The following is an example of how Michelle can take a negative call and turn it into a positive experience for the member.
Michelle received a call from a member that was not showing as having any coverage. Since coverage was not active, the member was highly upset. The member was receiving treatment and said the provider refused to see her that day. The member said if she did not receive the treatment there was a possibility she could die. After research, it was determined that the member did indeed no longer have coverage, but COBRA coverage was offered and the entire COBRA premium had not been paid in full. The member became highly upset and hung up on Michelle.
Michelle did not let the issue end; she took the issue as her own. She immediately called the member back and acknowledged the member’s emotions and explained the issue and how to resolve it. She connected the member to the COBRA vendor to get the payment updated. Later that day, Michelle contacted the COBRA vendor to get the eligibility updated. She then called the member back as well as the provider, and let them know everything was updated. Michelle made sure the member had her treatment service back in place to ensure the member suffered no additional medical effects.
Michelle turned this negative experience into a positive. After having the member hang up on her, Michelle had two options. One, take the next call, or two, take accountability and get the issue resolved. A World Class Advocate takes the second option, which is what Michelle does each and every time she receives a call.
After the issue was resolved, the member called a member of management and said the following about her experience:
“I received the best service from Michelle. When I hung up, I did not know what to do, but Michelle called me back and that really impressed me. Michelle was so willing to work to resolve my issues and I was impressed with all of her follow ups. I just wanted to call in and say thank you for having a customer advocate like Michelle who is patient, kind and will do whatever it takes to get the issue resolved.”
Michelle Dobson – BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
Gone was the Worry and Concern
“What began as a stressful situation, turned into a rapport and friendship that I respect and am thankful for”
Imagine being in a foreign country and having a medical emergency that requires you to pay upfront about $18,000. Regardless of financial status, this would be overwhelming. This is how my story began with the kindest of members.
I had been a call center representative for about a year and one particular September morning had been going really well. I was geared up and ready to tackle whatever came my way when I answered the next call. The call started right off with a welcomed introduction, it wasn't until I asked the member, "How can I resolve your call today?" that I began to feel a little nervous. With a deep sigh, she began to describe to me her trip to visit family overseas. One evening while travelling she was ill enough to end up in the emergency room, and was admitted inpatient, resulting in her having to pay $18,000 upfront. I can’t imagine how scary and stressful this experience must have been. To be away from home, sick in a foreign land, and asked to pay such a large amount of money must have been so overwhelming.
Luckily, the member had already worked with Blue Card World Wide and was able to obtain the necessary prior approvals and guarantees for coverage of service. This made the payment process between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, the member, and the international provider much easier. I explained how the process works and was able to provide her with the confidence that she would be reimbursed her $18,000 by the provider. The member was very relieved and expressed her appreciation for the people she had already been in touch with at Blue Card World Wide.
We then reviewed several claim’s that were being processed. Not only did the member incur several large claims while overseas, she had paid for them at the time of service in Swiss Francs and wanted to ensure her reimbursement amounts were correct. I hadn't encountered this type of call before and I explained that I wanted to research the claims and the exchange rates to ensure she received the correct reimbursements. I promised a prompt follow-up call after my review. The member was so appreciative because she had a lot on her plate.
After reviewing the claims, we identified a payment discrepancy. By working as a team with our Blue Card Claims department, we were able to quickly make the correction and resolve the issue, resulting in correct reimbursement to the member.
I contacted the member back to give her the good news and she was so happy and relieved. Gone was the worry and concern I had heard when accepting her call. We chatted briefly when she shared that she had a medical condition that would require her to take a medication daily for the next five years. She wanted to check on the monthly costs. I thought to myself, "I've got this." After reviewing with a supervisor who had access to the pharmacy system, my heart sank. The medication in question cost $5,000 per 30-day supply. As a customer service employee in different settings over the last several years, the emotion you feel when you must advise someone who is already having a hardship of more difficult news is indescribable. I went back to my desk, my mind racing for the best way to approach this.
Prior to getting back on the phone, I conducted more research to ensure I had uncovered everything. After momentarily scrolling through a desk procedure I came across some wonderful news! Our lovely state of Vermont has a mandate that provides medication treatment for her particular diagnosis at no cost to the member. What a huge relief. I explained that while the cost of the medication is $5,000 per month, it is covered at 100% for her with no member liability. She of course was feeling very relieved as having to pay out of pocket for a medication while managing a challenging diagnosis was not an additional stressor that she needed.
At this point in my experience with this amiable member, we had discussed a worrisome diagnosis, international claims, Swiss Francs, and even the apple orchard across from her home. Assisting this caller was an easy-going and rewarding experience. The member and I were able to work together, organize her billing records, receive high dollar reimbursement, and gain a better understanding of her benefits and pharmacy coverage. What began as a stressful situation, turned into a rapport and friendship that I respect and am thankful for. Soon after this call I received a big box of fresh Vermont apples for my family and I to share, shipped straight from the orchard next to her home.
I am thankful for this call and it is a daily reminder of the important work we do as Customer Service Representatives. We help others through very stressful situations and alleviate some worry, stress and concern. I find this to be extremely meaningful and rewarding. I wouldn't want to do anything else.
Alyssa Pratt – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
Advocating on Member's Behalf
“I earned his trust, explained that BCBSVT is different, and that he could count on me to see this through to resolution”
The role of a customer service representative is an important one. We impact the lives of our customers in what we hope is a positive and supportive way. This can be challenging at times but it is always rewarding. One afternoon, I received a call from one of our members who sounded very upset and emotional. His wife was sick, she’d been in and out of the hospital, and was in need of diabetic medications and supplies. This customer had purchased his BCBSVT plan through our State Exchange. Our State Exchange processes all enrollment and disenrollment transactions.
Even though he had paid all of his premiums to the Exchange, they still did not have any active coverage for him and his wife. To ensure his wife was getting the care she needed, he had been paying out of pocket for all of her medical and pharmacy expenses, which had proven to be quite costly and he was running out of funds and hope. It had become a financial hardship and he now couldn’t afford to pick up the medications and supplies she needed.
This member called BCBSVT looking for any help he could get. I told him that I would take care of this and ensure he and his wife had active coverage. He was understandably apprehensive as he had called the State Exchange so many times previously and had been told multiple times that it would be resolved. I could tell that given his previous experience, he was not feeling confident that he would hear back from me. I acknowledged how frustrating it must have been to be paying insurance premiums, have no active coverage, and have to make multiple calls to the State Exchange, all while trying to get his wife the care she needed. I earned his trust, explained that BCBSVT is different, and that he could count on me to see this through to resolution.
I then spent hours on the phone with our State Exchange on behalf of our member, advocating on his behalf. I also worked with our internal enrollment team at BCBSVT, who process the transactions we receive from the State Exchange. After several hours of working with the State and our enrollment team, I was able to get our member’s coverage reinstated back two months.
Before I called him back with the good news, I first proactively outreached to the pharmacy to ensure his wife’s medications were processed and had them run her previous prescriptions through as well; he now had a reimbursement coming to him. I then called the medical equipment supplier to advise that the member was now active and made sure they had her supplies in stock before the member went to get them. I also called her doctors and the hospital to ensure they were aware the coverage was now in effect and claims should be billed to BCBSVT.
When I called the member back and explained what I had done, he was in shock and didn’t say anything for a minute. He went on to tell me how grateful and relieved they were for all my help and how he wished he had called BCBSVT sooner for help. The member even called back to give me a compliment and say how thankful he and his wife were for my help.
He said “I spent half an hour on the phone with Amy today on an issue that was quite complex. She was spectacular, patient, smart, and figured out our issue. Please let your staff know how amazing her service has been.”
I am proud of this call and the positive impact I had on this family’s life. The work we do is important. I am thankful to work for a company that puts our members first, and allows us the time we need to truly resolve issues and see a member through.
Amy Duhamel – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
She Didn't Know Why
“It is the call requiring work and attention along with brightening a customer’s day that makes providing excellent customer service easy.”
In an insurance call center you get asked numerous questions. The majority of the time the questions are what are my benefits? Why was this claim denied? What do I owe? This is exactly what I was expecting Monday, January 2nd when my phone rang. “Thank you for calling BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont, my name is Bridgette, how can I help resolve your call today?” A young woman explained her frustration after receiving multiple medical bills and she didn’t know why. She went on to explain she has Medicare for the disabled, BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont and BlueCross BlueShield of Pennsylvania, and she didn’t understand why she was receiving bills.
She read off the ten dates of services and rejection notifications she had received. I listened to her carefully and assured her I would look into the claims. I explained two of the claims pulled up from providers here in Vermont but I was not seeing the claims for the other dates. I let her know that the two we had on file had denied as ‘other insurance primary’ and explained what other insurance primary meant, “I see you have Medicare as your primary insurance and we received these from your doctor without Medicare processing the claim first. The doctor needs to submit to Medicare first and then we can process as your secondary carrier.” She explained that the other bills she was receiving were stating the same thing, ‘other insurance primary.’ We went over each individual claim, one at a time. I could hear the frustration in her voice worsening as we realized each claim was for a different doctor and facility, each one being sent to a different insurance company. I could hear the quiver in her voice the more she told me how much she owed and that she needed to call each doctor and give them her insurance cards (all over again), and have them submit. At this point I could hear her crying. I offered to take down all of the service dates and providers’ information to outreach and get the claims submitted to the correct companies tomorrow morning. She was so grateful that I had offered to help her, “Thank you so much, you have no idea how much I appreciate this.”
The next morning I began making calls on her behalf. I called BlueCross BlueShield of Florida and started explaining the member’s situation. I gave them the date of service, the provider’s information, along with Medicare, BCBSVT, and BCBSPA identification numbers, they advised they would get the claim submitted. I did this for each one of her claims calling different BCBS plans in different states. It took a full week to get in touch with each BCBS plan and the providers to get this request done.
I expected it would take a couple of weeks or more before I would hear from Medicare; however, about a week later I saw the claims started coming to us and BCBSVT started processing as secondary. Each time a claim came in and processed I could see her financial responsibility decreasing. I waited another week for all claims to finalize through our system. Around the 22nd I got the notification that all claims have been processed and the statement would be sent on the next Wednesday.
I called her up on January 24th and told her Medicare had processed these claims as well BCBS VT had also received and began processing. The providers assured me they would pass them along to BCBSPA, and I could hear tears again. I tried assuring her this was a good thing, that because we have begun processing she wouldn’t owe so much and that the doctors would be sending her an updated bill. She began assuring me that she was crying because she was happy. She was panicked the day we first spoke, fearing she would owe thousands of dollars and that she would never be able to pay it or figure out how to reach the doctors to get this straightened out. I told her I had contacted everyone she had bills from and they are all being taken care of, I told her to call me in the future if she had any other claims she needed help with.
On the day I closed the case, I realized it is situations like this and the people that make me love working in the call center. 90% of the time the questions and situations are the same. It is the call requiring work and attention along with brightening a customer’s day that makes providing excellent customer service easy.
Bridgette Draper – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
A Common Misconception
“I was especially grateful that I was able to work for a company that values 'quality over quantity'. ”
As a customer service representative, I take pride in providing excellent service to each customer I have the pleasure of speaking with. I see each call that I take as an opportunity to make someone’s day brighter by easing any concerns they may have and using all available resources to make sure their call is resolved. There is a common misconception held by the public that individuals who work in a call center must not enjoy what they do or care what kind of service they provide because of a prior experience. This is not the case with the BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont call center. We have customers that express joy to be speaking with our representatives because of how helpful, understanding, and kind they are. I will always remember this one call where I had the chance to go above and beyond for one of customers and truly make a difference for him.
One morning in the summer of 2016, I received a phone call from a kind, older gentleman, who sounded a little shy and embarrassed to be speaking to someone. He went on to explain that he had lost one of his eyes many years ago, and that he used to have a prosthetic eyeball, however, he had misplaced his only prosthetic eye a few years back. Since then, he had been using an unspecified ball that had not been fit for that purpose and was finally starting to cause irritation, not to mention, was very uncomfortable for him. He said that he had been holding off on getting a new one because he did not know of anyone who could make a prosthetic eye. I immediately assured him that he was speaking to the right person and I would do everything in my power to find a prosthetic eye supplier, so that he could finally have the safe and comfortable prosthetic that he deserved. I explained that I would make his situation a priority for me and would complete all necessary research and would call him back by the end of the day.
I had never handled such a unique situation, so I needed some assistance on where to start. I started by asking our extremely knowledgeable member ombudsman, if she knew of any prosthetic suppliers who would be able to make eyes. She stated that she did not know of anyone, but that I should start by calling around to some different durable medical equipment suppliers and prosthetic suppliers. I used the BCBSVT Find a Doctor Tool to locate in-network suppliers in his area and found 5 different providers that fit the criteria. I called all 5 suppliers on the list to see if any of them made prosthetic eyes or if they had any leads on other places. Unfortunately, none of the suppliers made what the member needed and they did not have any leads on where I could look next.
I was determined to not give up and I decided to call our Integrated Health department’s concierge line to see if they knew of any options. The representative in IH spoke with her colleagues and stated that they only knew of one man who supplied prosthetic eyes but he was in New Hampshire, which was an out-of-network provider who they had not heard from in some time, so she was not positive if he was still in business. I explained this member’s situation to the IH representative and asked them if he would be able to obtain an out-of-network prior approval due to the services not being available in-network. Fortunately, she stated that since services are unavailable in-network, the member had a great case for getting an out-of-network prior approval to see this provider.
Based on the provider’s location in New Hampshire, I could call him directly. I dialed the phone number IH had on file right away. Thankfully, he picked up the phone and I was able to ask him if he still produced prosthetic eyes. He advised that he did still make prosthetic eyes and that he had some openings. Since I knew that his location was a little bit further from the member than was preferred, I asked the provider if he had any other locations that he worked from. To my delight, he stated that he traveled to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, VT about once a month. He explained that they may have some openings there, but that UVMMC oversaw that schedule. After I got off the phone with the provider, I called UVMMC to see if they had any openings for upcoming appointments and they said that they did have a few openings for the next time the provider would be there.
After three or more hours of researching, outreaching to providers, and working with a few different people interdepartmentally within BCBSVT, I was finally able to call the member back and give him the good news! When I reached him, he was excited to learn that there was a provider available and although he was out of network, that he would be able to submit a prior approval to see him at the in-network level of benefits. I also advised that he would be able to see the provider at the UVMMC campus in Burlington if he would like because they are closer. I shared with him their open appointment slots. We also thoroughly went over his benefits and his next steps so that he would be completely prepared by having all necessary and appropriate information. He was very grateful and excited that he would finally be able to get a replacement eye that would fit him and would be safe and comfortable for him to use.
This member was coping with an inadequate eye replacement because he did not know where to go, if it was covered, and felt overwhelmed with how to go about maneuvering the system. That day, I was especially grateful that I was able to work for a company that values “quality over quantity.” A company that would not only allow me to take so much time out of day to research for one case, but encourages me to go the extra mile for every one of our callers, regardless of the time spent on each case. I am especially proud that I was able to own the research and resolution of this case and advocate for our member in an effort to reduce his concern, stress, make his life a little easier and bring him some comfort knowing he could now have the prosthetic he deserved.
Madison Blow – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
“This was just as much a priority for me as it was for her”
I received a call from a member’s sister-in-law. She was calling after having received a garbled message from her brother-in-law who was currently in India. Once getting in touch with him, which was difficult due to the 11 hour time difference, she found out that he had undergone emergency surgery for a heart related issue and needed help getting authorization for another surgery because the foreign provider refused to schedule the necessary surgery without a guarantee of payment from the insurance company. She quickly got in contact with our partner Blue Cross Blue Shield Global Core, who can negotiate a guarantee of payment between BCBSVT and the foreign provider and they advised that they would then get in contact with BCBSVT to start the process. When I received her call she was calling to verify that the process had been started.
This is where we hit a road block, as there was no authorization from the member allowing us to speak to his sister-in-law about anything other than how the process works. I advised that I could get a verbal authorization from the member if possible and then I would be able to go over what was happening in detail. I let her know that he could give us a call and gave the reference number for our conversation so she could call back in with it or if she had his phone number I advised I would be happy to try and give him a call with her on the line to get the required OK from the member. Unfortunately, she didn’t have his phone number, her husband had the number but he was at work. So, she asked if I could stay on hold with her while she sent him a text to let him know what was going on. After about 10 minutes, she confirmed that her husband sent a text to the member letting him know that we need the verbal authorization in order to give either of them any detailed information. As you can imagine, she did not want to end our call until she knew she had assisted her brother-in-law. Here he is, alone in a hospital in India and awaiting much needed treatment as the provider waited on their guarantee of payment. She rightfully needed that peace of mind that Blue Cross Blue Shield Global Core had sent the guarantee of payment request, so I remained on the line with her for a half hour while we waited for the verbal authorization to come in.
The member did call in and gave his verbal authorization from his hospital bed in India while he awaited the guarantee of payment for his lifesaving procedure. Understanding the severity of the situation caused my heart to drop and my stomach sink. This was just as much a priority for me as it was for her. I couldn’t even imagine how scared he must be in another country waiting for the provider to get what was needed from his insurance company to have his surgery.
I talked to my research department who confirmed that we had indeed received the guarantee of payment request and that they were working on it as we were speaking to get it sent back immediately. Now with the verbal authorization in place I was able to confirm with the sister-in-law that we did indeed receive the request and were working it as a high priority. I assured her that I would monitor her brother-in-law’s account and let her know when that information was sent to finish the process.
A few hours later, I checked the account and our research department had sent the guarantee of payment over to BCBS Global Core. I waited and monitored a while longer but then decided to proactively outreach to Global Core because this case was such a huge concern for me that was just eating away at my stomach and my thoughts. Global Core assured me that once they receive it back they immediately forward it on to the provider. However, shortly after the conversation, Global Core called back asking for an authorization number as they needed to give it to the provider for confirmation. We triaged over to our Integrated Health Department to set up the authorization, got the authorization set up, and provided the authorization number. We explained that in order for the authorization to be finalized, we needed to have the clinical documents to review. The representative with Global Core advised that all the provider needed to go forward with the procedure was an authorization number from the insurance company and asked that we call them back once the review was completed.
I called the member’s sister-in-law back to let her know that everything that needed to happen was in place, we have the authorization in place and are ready to review once we receive the clinical documentation and assured her that she had done everything she needed to do to make sure her brother-in-law was able to have his surgery. The provider had their guarantee of payment and authorization number and her brother-in-law would be able to get the care he needed.
This call was a very stressful one as our member’s health and well-being depended on team work and quick action. Thankfully, by working with multiple departments, and proactively outreaching to Global Core, we were able to expedite the request and do the right thing, take care of our member and provide his sister-in-law with some peace of mind during a very challenging time.
Rebecca Lee – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
The Moment of Truth is a Turning Point
“I’d love the chance to make your day better”
One of our members was exasperated after unsuccessfully signing up for an online account. She was upset, frustrated, and ready to close her account after trying for two days. Her confidence was shattered and she shared with me she wasn’t good with computers, she felt like she was going around in circles. She told me she felt defeated.
I listened to everything the member shared, and acknowledged her feelings confirming with her that I understood her feelings. I knew I needed to bring her back before helping her solve her technical problems. “You’re a great customer! I’m sorry you’ve been having a hard time registering.” The tension in her voice immediately abated, “Finally someone who understands,” she sighed.
That was my opportunity as the moment of truth presented itself – “If you like, I can stay with you on the phone and we can go through each step together to get you in online. I’d love the chance to make your day better.”
To summarize, I quickly identified the error and together we registered her for her online account. I made sure she understood the problem reassuring her that it wasn’t something she could have fixed and that I was glad she called to give me the chance to make it better.
We ended the call with a hearty chuckle. The member said, “Maybe an old girl like me can fit into the computer world after all, especially when I have ladies like yourself showing me great patience and encouragement.” She shared that she was so happy with my customer service and that I was the reason she would not be cancelling her account. She made sure I knew that despite several choices in her wallet, that I secured her decision to pick our card over the rest going forward.
Chastity Driscoll – Millennium1 Solutions
A Smile and Positive Attitude can go a Long Way
“Smile, while you’re on the phone....it comes through your voice and is felt on the other end of the line”
I was very happy to hear that I achieved World Class Certification for 2016. My story isn't necessarily recalling a past call, it's about a belief. What do I truly believe customer service is? I've always had what I describe as a strong sense of respect and an old-school style of thinking, which I try to bring to every phone call.
I have a history of striving for a goal, at times almost to a fault. Prior to my contact center career, I was goal oriented, so much so that it led to injury and a few surgeries. Needing to change from employment of a physical nature to something less physically demanding, I attended a job fair and ended up having a conversation with M1S Recruiter, Nicole Barry. Soon after that I was training at Millennium1 Solutions. I will admit there were times I had some reservations about whether I could do this; a 45-year-old father of 4 starting over in a new career can seem daunting. Even after training was complete, I was still wondering if I had what it took to succeed on the floor. Thanks to my trainers Kristi and Cecile, I was able to move onto the production floor with some confidence. The most important message I took from training was to strive for first call resolution.
I've had to incorporate some experience from many different aspects of my life; being a parent, being an athlete and a coach, and those old-school values (like holding doors), that I mentioned earlier; there are many transferrable skills that I bring to my CSR career:
- Being married for 26+ years and raising 4 children teaches patience which I am often told I have by members on the phone.
- Being an athlete gives you determination and coaching gives you an ability to read people. Determination to see the call through and the ability to read people, helps determine the approach in resolving the call (how much time you need to spend with each member for them to succeed).
- The old-school values, respect and understanding. When I'm on the phone my number one concern is helping our members resolve their issue. I know my handle time sometimes takes a hit when I give the extra effort and then offer to help the member add a card, change a setting or load their offers instead of just sending a knowledge article to enable self-service. Reading people really helps here, as you have to get a feel from the member to know if instructions for self-service is enough and they'll succeed. I really strive to avoid unnecessary repeat calls and spend more time solving their issue if needed, which prevents the experience from feeling difficult which can turn members away from the program.
Every day I check my performance dashboard and my 1st concern is my CSAT and Call Resolution results. I love seeing it at 100% but the feedback I receive when I don’t earn 100% helps me learn and grow. “He was pleasant enough just didn't have a 'personal' touch.” Is one piece of feedback that stands out for me. This customer went on to add more descriptive detail and this was more important than comments from the many favorable surveys I had received. This drove me to improve and I’m pleased that the needle is moving in the right direction.
I believe another key to being named "World Class Certified" is enjoying what you are doing, I've always told my kids, "Find a career you like. There are 24 hours in a day, 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work and 8 hours of play. If you like your 8 hours of work, you've got life figured out, if not, your 8 hours of play have to be awesome." I love helping people, making them happy makes me feel great, and when you like what you do it transcends to the member on the other end of the phone line.
I try to bring a fun attitude to work. Having fun and a little laughter is contagious to co-workers. I think leadership is also a big factor in performance (thanks to my TL Nicolle).
In closing, I'll sum up my customer service attitude by quoting others - including my wife, who say "Smile, while you’re on the phone....it comes through your voice and is felt on the other end of the line."
Peter Stewart – Millennium1 Solutions
Above the Call of Duty
“I have worked in customer service all my life and Derek is a true depiction of what it means to service the customer. Take care of Derek. I hope you know that he is one of your biggest assets.”
Following is the story of a true customer service hero. Derek Therrell, a genuine American Veteran, works with Medicare Part D recipients on a daily basis. Derek once told me that for him, it is not enough that a person’s diagnosis be precise, nor enough that the medicine prescribed will work, it is equally important that we find the best pricing for the medicine prescribed. If you have ever had the occasion to check into pricing of some of the most effective medicines in the marketplace today, you might be aware that they can sometimes be fairly expensive. Derek has made it his mission to learn all he can about Medicare Part D benefits. He prides himself in being well versed on how to best utilize the insurance policy to the member's advantage. He understands that it is a serious provision for our people’s well-being within our United States.
I would like to share one of Derek's call center interactions which resulted in a world class experience for one of our Medicare members. But before we get into the call details I believe it relevant to outline a picture of how Derek exemplifies a work ethic to emulate. On this particular day we started out unusually busy. Our city suffered some inclement weather; making many of us behind our normal start time. This was not the case for Derek. He was almost half an hour early. He began his day as he always did: taking one call at a time, explaining insurance benefits, taking orders to mail medicines to our members, creating detail to our clinical staff on behalf of our member. He stayed on task and then the call came in. The call was about a co-pay issue of a very expensive life-sustaining medicine which could only be ordered one month at a time, and only from specific pharmacies. The person calling was someone who worked with an organization that helps qualified people pay for their life-sustaining medicines. Many of the recipients are without financial resources. He said that the member received a bill of $1853.00 for his medicine but their records showed the assistance was approved and submitted. He told Derek, in his experience, the member has never had to pay anything. He said he has been working on this for 2 weeks and is now at a loss of whom or where to call.
Derek assured the caller that he was the right person to help; and he knew that the research would be extensive so made a commitment to call him back. In the end, Derek found that the member had two profiles. The insurance policy was under one version of the member’s names but the doctor sent the prescription under members other name. He partnered with the physician’s office to clarify the name on record as well as worked with our data entry/order team to merge the two profiles. Derek pulled an accounting of the submitted claim and worked through the link with the insurance provider. He called the pharmacy and waited on the phone with them while they worked through all the corrections and resubmitted the claim. He partnered with four different resources, took the 40 plus minutes and the end result was a zero balance to the member.
Derek met his commitment and called the Assistance Coordinator back. He explained what happened and advised him that it was fixed. Then he took it upon himself to call the member as well. When Derek spoke with our member, he assured him that his balance was zero, explained what happened and advised him how to prevent this from happening again. The member’s voice was tearful as he explained how much it meant to him that someone finally figured it out. The member insisted on speaking to someone in our senior staff. A paraphrase of the member's comments are as follows: "I just want to make sure Derek is recognized. I can tell he cares about the customer. He is sharp, polite, informative and respectful. I have worked in customer service all my life and Derek is a true depiction of what it means to service the customer. Take care of Derek. I hope you know that he is one of your biggest assets."
Derek Therrell – Prime Therapeutics
Connecting the Dots
“We will run through brick walls and fire to get the member the medication they need to feel better and live well.”
A member called in October and wanted to know why the cost for his 30-day supply of medication went up to $265 when he had been paying a flat $15 Tier II copay before. I advised him that his drug phase went into the gap since his last refill. That caused him to incur a 58% copay for the generic brand he was filling. The contracted rate of this medication was $458 per month, so his current copay was now $265. I advised the member of alternatives and he stated the doctor only wanted him on this medication. He had tried other medications and they had adverse effects on the member and as a result, caused him to go to the emergency room.
The member was sobbing and stated he was on a fixed income and just won't take the medication because he could no longer afford it. I could hear his wife in the background and she wanted to talk to me. I advised her of the situation and she too sounded distraught that her husband could not get the medication he needed. I informed them of the LICS program, because if approved, the worst-case scenario would be a 15% copay. She stated they didn't qualify when they had previously applied. It was heartbreaking to listen to this couple struggle to simply get the medicine they need.
I had one more option to look into and checked our Benefit Edit Tool to see if they had gap coverage. He DID have Gap coverage, but it only applied to Tier 1 medications and this was a Tier II medication. I informed the member that I would submit a Tier exception request to see if we could get it approved as a Tier I so that he would just have a lower flat copay of $2 per month, if approved. I informed the member I would personally track the progress of the request as often as I could so that I could update him as soon as we had a result. The member was crying and thanked me so much and said he would look forward to hearing from me.
After submitting the expedited request to our Clinical Review department, I sent them an email explaining the situation and asked if they could add extra priority to the request. I checked the progress every hour for the member and it was approved that afternoon. I called the local Pharmacy and had them rerun the refill and it went through as a $2 dollar copay instead of $265 for the 30-day supply.
When I called the member back to tell him it was approved as a Tier I medication, he was sobbing again, but this time it was out of joy that he could afford to get his medication. When he told his wife, I could hear her being emotional also. I informed the member that he would pay a total of $6 for the rest of the year instead of $795. For 2017, his cost for this med would be $2 per month instead of $15 and would carry over through the gap coverage again if it remains a Tier 1. The member was extremely emotional and kept thanking me. I told him it was my extreme pleasure and my voice was cracking at the end of the call.
After the call was over, I had to log off and go for a short stroll because I too had tears of joy and was so grateful that I could get this member his medication. Thinking back on the experience while writing this it is happening again. There are those times when we get like that after calls because we care so much for these members. And we are so glad that we are given everything we need to assist these members to protect their health and get them what they need.
Our motto is "To get the member the medication they need to feel better and live well". All of us at Prime read that as "We will run through brick walls and fire to get the member the medication they need to feel better and live well." In every training group I assist with, I always inform them to check the BET for this process to see if it is available when the member goes into the gap. Perhaps it will allow us to have even more success stories like this.
Sebastian D’Agosta – Prime Therapeutics
Going the Extra Mile
“Most days we have to think outside the box to find a solution that will help the member”
I had a member that called in about her medication costs. She said she was trying to get three generic medications and the pharmacy was telling her it was over $200. She said she didn’t have that kind of money and did not qualify for the financial assistance programs available to Medicare members.
I checked her plan and it had the deductible of $290 that was causing the high cost, but with a little research I realized that all three meds were tier 2 generics and she was paying toward her deductible. The deductible applied for all tiers except tier 1 on her plan.
After checking for tier 1 alternatives, I suggested we could put in a tier exception for all three medications. If the tier exceptions were approved, that would mean these medications would be moved from tier 2 to tier 1 where the deductible doesn’t apply and her copay would only be $3 per medication for a 30-day supply. After verifying that she still had enough meds for this process, we submitted tier exceptions for all three medications. I advised her of the expected turn-around time for a decision and assured her I would keep an eye on them and call her once the decision was made. The member shared with me that the consequences of not taking one of these medications is that she could go blind.
Even though we promise a 72-hour window for decisions, I checked these throughout the day and they were approved by the end of that same day. I called the pharmacy to reprocess all three meds, bringing her total due from over $200 to around $9 for all three. I called the member back to advise her of the outcome and that her pharmacy would have these ready in 45 minutes. The member was elated and knowing that I helped her get her medication and saved her so much money was a great feeling!
Every day, we have an opportunity like this to make a difference in a person’s life and that is what makes this job so rewarding. There is always an option. We just have to be willing to search for the opportunities for that specific situation. Most days we have to think outside the box to find a solution that will help the member get the medication they need. You have to be willing to go the extra mile and be creative to help the customers resolve their unique situation. I do everything I can to help our members every day. This is just one example, but I accept the challenge every day to do the best I can for everyone reaching out to us for assistance.
Stacey Boone – Prime Therapeutics
One Issue at a Time
“Fortunately, Bernice was there for her.”
Cambia has eight values that we instill in our employees – Hope, Courage, Empathy, Trust, Commitment, Collaboration, Innovation and Accountability.
Bernice Gutierrez demonstrates these values in her work every day. She is committed to helping our members with empathy and compassion and follows through until an issue is resolved.
Bernice demonstrated these values when she received a call transferred from another customer service professional who was having language difficulties with a member. Bilingual and fluent in Spanish, Bernice listened as the caller, a sobbing 92-year-old Spanish-speaking member who lived alone, recounted how she was struggling to take care of herself after suffering a fall in her home.
She told Bernice that while going to the living room to get her medicine, she got dizzy and fell. She hit the chair and was unconscious. When she woke up she was on the floor. She got her apartment manager’s attention, and he had called an ambulance that transported her to the hospital.
Later, she was released from the hospital and sent home to take care of herself. Unfortunately, she was unable to walk and had been sent home without a walker or wheelchair. She clearly needed help. Due to the language barrier, she was frustrated, did not understand her options, was panicked and didn’t know where to turn. Fortunately, Bernice was there for her.
Bernice comforted her in Spanish and listened to her concerns about her hospital bill and the care she needed going forward. She was unable to walk, cook, get to doctor appointments or even reach her medications.
Bernice set out to tackle each issue one at a time. She contacted the member’s daughter, the doctor that cared for her, and durable medical equipment providers to arrange for a walker and wheelchair. She coordinated with taxi companies to provide rides for doctor appointments, then contacted the member’s church and other community resources to find help with getting her medications and provide other care. She helped the member get in touch with a business partner to get financial assistance and help from Medicaid. The member was proud and resisted asking for help herself but allowed Bernice to reach out on her behalf.
Bernice also checked back with the member frequently to ensure the assistance she arranged was working out. Bernice assured the member that she could call her directly and speak in her native language. The member felt she truly had a friend – “an angel” – at the other end of the phone line.
Bernice enjoys being able to help “her members” with whatever they need. Helping people is her passion and what drives her. This member was fortunate Bernice answered her call that day, and we are fortunate to have such a powerful advocate for our most vulnerable members when their “golden years” turn difficult.
Bernice Gutierrez – Regence BlueCross BlueShield
We Put the Member First No Matter What
“Jason is what makes companies like Regence perform and resonate with their customers”
I believe customer service can make or break a company. At Regence Medicare Advantage, we pride ourselves on our customer service. We put the member first no matter what. That’s what I love about my job as a customer service representative at Regence. When the company says it cares about the member, they mean it. My favorite calls are when members tell me they will never leave Regence because they love our customer service. When I hear that, I know I am I doing a good job, as is our customer service department as a whole.
Sometimes members and their families need an experienced advocate to help resolve a difficult issue. That was the case when I answered the phone that day and heard our member’s son talk about the nightmare he and his mother were going through. I listened as he explained that he was receiving collection notices from several companies for his parents’ health care bills. He’d made numerous calls, but wasn’t getting anywhere, so he turned to Regence for help.
His ordeal was heart-wrenching. Both his parents had been involved in a serious car accident. His father passed away in the hospital the day of the accident, and his mother had been hospitalized for more than a month. Following the accident, she underwent several surgeries and had multiple follow-up visits with doctors. The care his mother and father received resulted in several claims, some very large and many smaller ones. This already difficult situation was made even more difficult because multiple insurance companies were attempting to coordinate payment.
Providers wouldn't talk to the son because he wasn't the patient. To make it more difficult, his mother was just getting her life back together, and he dreaded telling her about the collections notices and bringing up the accident. I listened while he explained all he had been trying to work through. He couldn’t understand why two insurance companies couldn’t work together to pay his parents’ claims. He felt caught in the middle and didn’t know what to do. When I heard about the families dilemma, I knew I had to step in and help resolve the issue quickly.
I expressed to him my deepest sympathy for the loss of his father and his mother’s condition. I acknowledged that things can get complicated when working with multiple insurance companies, and even more complicated when services are rendered outside the service area. I told him to focus on his mother’s recovery and to let Regence and I deal with the billing and claims issues.
When I ended the call with him, I went right to work. My goal was to remove any and all barriers and allow his family to move on from the accident.
I called our Other Party Liability (OPL) and Claims departments. I contacted multiple providers, spending hours on the phone. It took several follow-up calls to providers and internal departments to get things sorted out. This was a complex issue and required a lot of patience. I kept in touch with the member along the way so he knew where things stood. In the end, he and I created a relationship built on trust. He knew he could call me with new questions or issues. It gave me such pride to help him during this difficult time and get everything handled for his parents.
Shortly after our last conversation, he sent a letter to Regence. “Truly, Jason is what makes companies like Regence perform and resonate with their customers, and I am extremely pleased that my parents chose to work with your company for their Medicare Advantage plan,” he wrote, “I can't even imagine what I'd be going through if I was working with Medicare directly.”
Our members and their families are like my own family, and I always give 100 percent on every call. That means making sure members get the answer and resolution to the issue no matter what it takes. Even if it takes more than a dozen phone calls, I will do it! That’s why I enjoy being a part of our Customer Service team.
Jason Chapman – Regence BlueCross BlueShield
“One of the goals that I always have is being able to resolve a client’s inquiry in the first call”
One of the best aspects of being a customer service representative at Scotia iTRADE is that I can interact with a wide array of different clients every day. The calls that I receive can range from simple cash transfers to much more complex scenarios. As such, since each call received is different, I am able to adapt myself to each scenario which provides a learning opportunity for personal growth and development. One of the goals that I always have is being able to resolve a client’s inquiry in the first call.
One day, I received a call from a very frustrated client at Scotia iTRADE. When I inquired on the issue that he was facing, he said that he was trying to fund his account and place a trade online but was unsuccessful in doing so. The client was informed that his account was fully approved and everything was set to go to. However, when he tried to access the app to begin his trading activities, he was still unable to proceed. This triggered him to make a second phone call to the call center within the same day. However, his interaction with the representative was abruptly disconnected. In turn, this made him distraught and he began to question on whether he still needed the account. As such, the client told me that he wanted to transfer his accounts to another institution and inquired on the procedure for doing this. After hearing this statement, I knew right away that I would have to apply my expertise in retaining this customer and assisting him with the initial request. To do this, Hearing this, I applied a concept that was introduced during my team meetings and it is known as the Client Experience Model (CEM). This entails the notion of actively listening to a client’s request at hand and finding the best possible solutions.
I informed the client that I would definitely assist him with the problem and ensure that his trade is placed. He replied with these words which were “I hope so and please do not lose connection with me over the phone”. I assured the client that if the call was disconnected, I would call him back immediately so that he does not have to repeat himself to another representative. The first thing I asked was whether the account was visible on the app. He said yes, but was unable to tap and interact with it. From that I knew immediately that the client was using the Scotiabank app, which is used for branch accounts, instead of the Scotia iTRADE app, which is used for trading accounts. I proceeded to walk the client through his mobile device to download the appropriate app. Once that was completed, there was another roadblock that was faced. However, when the client entered his card number and password to sign on, he was unable to proceed to the screen that would allow him to begin trading. He once again became disgruntled but I was not ready to give up since I wanted to stick to my goal of always resolving the problem. After placing the client on a brief hold and analyzing his account on the internal system, I discovered the issue. He was a new client and did not complete the ‘Terms of Access’. I explained to the client on what he needed to do and I walked him through step by step of this setup. Once it was completed, the app was launched again and suddenly there was a burst of excitement. The client could fund his account and place an order for a stock he wanted! The tone of his once went from someone being discouraged and wanting to move to another institution to someone who was ready and willing to begin using our platforms for future trades. He thanked me numerous times and applauded my patience as well as maintaining control and ownership over the call.
After listening to the client’s comments, this provided me with a sense of accomplishment since I was able to turn his experience from being discontented to extremely satisfied. The client explained to me that he is new to trading since his son would always assist him in placing orders on his behalf. However, the son had to relocate to a different country for a job opportunity and he was left on his own. He also apologized for the way he interacted with me when I received his call. By hearing this, it allowed me to empathize and understand his feelings even more. Before the call ended, I guided him through the educational section of our homepage since he was a new client. The client was grateful for this information since his goal was to become a more savvy and active investor. He also wanted me to transfer him to my manager. A detailed voice message was left on my manager’s phone and it was shared during my next team meeting. This was very momentous and meaningful since I had recently joined the company a few months prior. Whenever a new customer service representative job shadows with me, I use this particular call as an example and I provide them with advice and information on how to deal with complex scenarios and a hostile client. I also inform new CSR’s to always try and create an emotional connection with a client, show empathy and always maintain firm confidence in their voice when aiding a caller.
Mark Gobardhan – Scotia iTRADE
Building Trust is a Challenge, Rebuilding Trust is Twice a Challenge!
“I was determined to bark up every tree and leave no stone unturned to remedy the situation”
Working as a customer service representative is a job that can be quite challenging. However, the satisfaction and fulfilment derived from resolving clients’ issues can’t be overstated. Clients can get quite frustrated, and this is usually portrayed in their reaction towards representatives on the phone. Nonetheless, the key to ensuring that clients’ issues are addressed is intertwined in iTRADE’s core principles of relating, adapting, showing empathy, committing and ultimately resolving clients’ issues.
From the moment a representative picks up the phone and starts talking to a client, the client makes an assessment as to the representative’s willingness and ability to help resolve the situation. This assessment usually ascertains the trust that the client should have in the representative in a fiduciary relationship between the client and the representative and enhances a smooth relationship between both parties. Having been on both sides of such a fiduciary relationship, it is very enlightening as it enables me to view things from different perspectives. That being said, I believe that my success in providing the highest standard of service to clients is that I understand the repercussions of a negative client experience on the client, as well as the business as a whole, and I do what needs to be done to avoid such an experience at all cost.
In my personal interaction with clients, one of the aspects I pay particular attention to is ensuring that their expectations are properly managed. I believe this is the foundation for establishing trust in dealing with clients and could determine whether clients get a positive or negative experience. Once the element of trust is broken, it becomes really difficult to ensure the highest standard to service.
I’ve had quite a few experiences with clients but the one which stands out for me was a situation in which the client’s expectations were not properly managed. The case in question involved a client who just opened up an account with our firm and put in a paper request at one of our branches to transfer approximately $40,000. The client was advised at the branch that his transfer request would take approximately 2 business days. In the client’s mind he was expecting to have the funds available to place an order to buy stocks in his brokerage account after that time frame. As expected, the client called in after said time frame to report his funds had not been deposited into his account. The client was very frustrated at this since he was looking to buy a stock and with the delay in funds being deposited into his account, the stock price kept moving up against him.
The first thing I had to establish was where the transfer request was initiated. I asked the client to provide me with the name of the branch, the contact person at the branch who helped complete the transfer request, as well as the department where his account was held. Based on the client’s responses, I quickly established that the information given regarding the transfer timeline was inaccurate. I advised the client of the right time frame which was in fact up to 10 business days as an internal wire transfer which would have taken 2 business days and was probably how the branch representative expected the transfer request would be processed, could not be used for accounts held at that branch. Having corrected the time frames, it was still an impossible task to erase that from the client’s mind as he was persistent on what his expectations were. I knew immediately that I had to take extra steps to try as much as possible to deliver on those terms or close to it. Once I had all that information, I gave the client my name and extension and advised him I was going to make it a point of duty to ensure that his issue was resolved as quickly as possible. I empathized with the client as I considered the fact that he had made his investment plans based on inaccurate time lines he had received from the branch, and now it felt like he was going to get punished for something which was entirely not his fault. I was determined to bark up every tree and leave no stone unturned to remedy the situation.
I tried to reach the branch representative by phone but got an automated message that he was on vacation so I reached out to the branch manager and advised him of the situation. The branch manager located the transfer form and confirmed the balance which was requested for transfer. We both concurred that the client’s expectations had not been properly managed as the transfer would in fact take up to 10 business days. We knew regardless something needed to be done to help rebuild the client’s confidence in the organization.
While brainstorming on the next step to take, an idea came to mind. I asked the branch manager to send me an email confirming the client’s balance held at the branch with an attached copy of the transfer request form signed by the client. Once I received all the documents, I took them to the senior manager and explained the whole story to him and asked what we could do for the client in the meantime. I was able to get approval for an overdraft for the client to the tune of the amount being transferred to enable him purchase the stock in advance of receiving the funds. I also came to an understanding with the branch manager to cover any interest charges applicable. The senior manager also signed off on having our transfer department initiate the transfer process in advance of receiving the original forms while the branch manager undertook to mail in the forms.
Having put in all that work to get things right for the client, it reminded me of what Warren Buffett once said “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” I felt great giving the client a call back with the positive feedback on a resolution to his problem. I explained to him all the steps I had taken to ensure that his issue was resolved. The client was able to place his order, and he was extremely satisfied with the dedication I put towards resolving his issue and rebuilding his trust in the firm in the process.
It’s experiences like these that make me love what I do, as I derive the highest level of fulfillment knowing that I can turn clients’ frustrations into joy, gratitude, and complete satisfaction. How much more rewarding and motivating could this get!
Roy Wefuan – Scotia iTRADE
No Situation Too Complex
“Thank you for always being there; I always knew I could talk with you about anything and you would always listen with your heart!”
Janet possesses one of the most enduring qualities a CSR could have, and I quote, “I absolutely love my job. I get the privilege to help people every single day, how powerful is that.” Janet defines concierge service by consistently being asked by our members if they could reach out to her directly when they need to call back. I can’t think of a better way to be recognized then by that request. The value Janet places on her customer service skills is not timeliness of response, but of the highest quality interaction of first call resolution and member engagement.
Part of Janet’s service excellence is her innate ability to breakdown complex insurance lingo and processes that people can easily understand. Janet has all of the gold star service characteristics that has to be part of CSR’s DNA: empathy, kindness, patience, being mindful, listening without judgement, and best of all, her 30 years of experience in our great industry. These qualities may be taught and understood but it is how a person is able to apply them in practice that separates the average from the great ones. She has what I call the IT factor. Janet has IT, just like the Great Wayne Gretzky had IT in hockey; no situation is too complex or too demanding. She has practiced and practiced to be the very best of the best.
Janet will always go above and beyond for members. If a senior citizen reluctantly shares their very personal story that they sometimes have to sacrifice paying for necessities like food or their insurance, she will go out of her way to connect these folks with live representatives from an array of social programs that she has personally researched on her own to assist them in stretching out their fixed incomes. Security Health Plan is extremely fortunate to have someone of her caliber assisting one of our most vulnerable membership segments. It is no wonder that she has been sent flowers, chocolates, knitted mittens and scarfs, numerous thank you cards, and even having her value as a CSR being mentioned by two different members with comments such as “I wish I could buy you an island for all that you’ve done for me.”
Let’s talk about an example. One day the receptionist says, “Hey, I’ve got a letter that came in today about some expenses for a dental bridge—I know it’s already a busy day for you, but would you mind checking it out?” The letter states: “I don’t know if you can help me or not, but I just want to ask, because I don’t know who else to talk to about this. I checked all those booklets I always get from the Plan and I can’t find anything that says my insurance will pay for some work my dentist needs to do to repair a bridge. Trouble is, my dentist said it could be repaired but then he gave me this estimate I’m sending in to you and there is no way I can pay for this but I can’t find anything in this plan that says you’ll pay for it either, so I’m hoping you can help me.”
The sender was an elderly member who’s had been enrolled for quite some time but there were very few contacts entered over the past several years. She was amazingly healthy for her age, or one of those who just toughs it out and may not actually be getting all of the care she needed because she’s too independent to ask. We have a lot of those in the golden years population. They’ve survived the Great Depression, endured the greatest Wars the world has ever witnessed, outlived most of their friends and family members and they’re generally ready to tackle almost anything except asking for help.
The member answered right away when I called her, but there was definitely caution in her tone. I introduced myself again and explain that I received her letter. I politely convinced her to turn the TV down enough so we could both hear and I tell her I’d really like to help her.
I noted that all her dental procedures are Medicare Exclusions. The member sighs deeply, and says she’d gotten used to hearing those words in the months since she lost her husband. Suddenly we’re plunging headlong into a touching life story of two people who were very lucky in love for a very long time, but everything’s been on a down-hill slide since he died.
I empathized and explained that even though I could not offer her any good news about those dental costs right now, I may be able to offer other suggestions to assist her. I noted her location and asked if her late spouse ever served in the Armed Forces, and if there might be any VA Benefits available for her, but she says “no—he was one of those guys who stayed home to take care of the farm—thank God”! I inquired if she had ever considered completing an income screening with the local Aging & Disability Resource Center, and I explained that the staff at her ADRC may be able to offer financial assistance, as well as information on other local programs that could help with basic expenses such as her home heating costs and groceries.
The member responded that she hadn’t been at that office in years, and explained that when her late spouse became very ill, they went to that office together to check on help with their medical and medication costs, but they were over the income limits for any programs. She said, “I was so disappointed that I couldn’t get some help to for him and after he died, friends told me that I should go back, but I just couldn’t take any more bad news.”
I explained that I would really like to help her arrange another income review—but the member said she doesn’t have any way to get to that office now, because she doesn’t drive anymore. I explained that the ADRC Representatives could schedule in-home consultations for people in her situation, and I asked if she would like assistance with those arrangements. I explained that if she qualifies for Medicaid, there would be some dental benefits included with her coverage, but if that program is not available, I could conference her with representatives from another local, grant-funded program and provide preventive and restorative dental benefits. I explained their representatives would be able to help initiate the dental repair services with a payment arrangement that would fit her budget. She said that sounds too good to be true, but she would definitely like more information; so we conferenced the ADRC office together and were able to schedule a home interview the next day.
The member said, “That will be very helpful,” and I explained that since she qualifies for that assistance, she would also qualify for the other program we discussed. I asked if I could assist with arrangements for that as well, and she replied, “That would be wonderful!” Lucky for us we were able to have her enrolled before the end of the month and the staff at that dental office would help her with the financial arrangements she needs for the bridge crisis that brought us together in the first place.
Over the next several years, I had the pleasure of assisting this member again whenever she had benefit inquiries and she would always she say, “You were one of my luckiest finds ever.”
During one of the last calls we shared, she said, “Thank you for always being there; I always knew I could talk with you about anything and you would always listen with your heart!” The member doesn’t need to call me anymore as she is now up there laughing with the angels, as well as probably dancing every day with that “drop dead handsome man” who used to “sweep me into his arms and waltz me around the haymow after chores, every night!”
Janet Cramm – Security Health Plan
Making a Difference
“In a few minutes this member's experience had gone from being unpleasant to being an extremely satisfying one”
I took a call in summer of 2016 that involved a complex situation with a member I could tell was very upset from the tone of her voice. When I asked her how I could help the member said she was calling in regarding an issue she was having at the pharmacy. When she went to her local pharmacy she was being told that she had other medical coverage and therefore her prescriptions were not being paid through her drug card.
The member advised me that this issue had been going on for months now and she always had to call in about it but nothing was ever done. This situation had been extremely frustrating for her and she advised me that she was upset as she felt she was getting the run around from Sun Life and from her employer. She also mentioned that she recently began taking a very high cost medication and had been paying out of pocket for this expense. I could hear that the member was tearing up and I truly sympathized with her situation. She was currently at the pharmacy and needed to get medications right away and did not have the money to pay for them. She had called in previously and was told everything was fixed but was shocked and surprised to again have to pay out of pocket. After reviewing her file I confirmed that this had been an ongoing issue and I knew I needed to ensure this was taken care of right away for her.
She informed me that each time she called that she was referred back to her employer to update her coordination of benefits information. When I looked at her plan I unfortunately saw that this was not the correct course of action. I offered my sincerest apologies to the member for this confusion. When I looked deeper into her plan I saw that the reason she was having problems had to do with an error on her claim forms. When she was submitting the paper forms in the mail she was indicating that she did have another policy when in fact she did not. I informed the member of this and went through the claim form step by step with her to ensure that the mistake would not happen again. The member was very happy that this was a simple step to take and that I was able to provide her with the correct process.
I had now taken care of part of the problem but still had to figure out what I could do to help her right now at the pharmacy. Our standard process is to send an update to our maintenance team and this will be updated within 4 calendar days at the most. I knew that this was not an option for this member. The other option would be for the member to pay out of pocket and then have the pharmacy rebill once the update is completed. She had already advised me that paying today was not possible. I knew I needed to think outside the box and do whatever I could to help her and to make up for her previous negative experiences. I asked the member if I could place her on a brief hold while I looked into this further for her. When she agreed I decided that I would personally call our maintenance team while I had her on hold and try and get this updated live on the call. While I was waiting for maintenance to answer I was crossing my fingers that this would be an attainable solution. I informed the representative of the situation and they were luckily able to update it right away. They advised me that the pharmacy could now submit.
I was so excited to go back to the member and advise them of the great news. I informed the member that the pharmacy would be able to resubmit the claim electronically so she would be able to pick up her medication today. The member’s tone and demeanor changed right away. I could tell that I really turned this call around. The member first was in tears due to frustration and anger and by the end of the call was crying because she was happy and relieved. She advised me that she was so grateful that I was able to give her the correct information so this error would not happen again and that I had fixed everything for her while she was on the phone.
In a few minutes this member's experience had gone from being unpleasant to being an extremely satisfying one. I was not only proud of myself with how professionally I handled and helped this caller, but I knew that I was making a difference in the Group Benefits Call Centre.
Amber Moore – Sun Life Financial
Someone Calling For Help
“I immediately made her complete resolution my only priority”
I received a call from an elderly member who was trying to submit a few claims online. I assumed right away that it would be a long call, as she was hard of hearing and kept asking me to “speak up.” As I logged into her account, I saw through her summary tab that she had called three times before the end of the business day, all for the same reason – all web-related. This was unacceptable. I immediately thought of my own parents, who are on the phone all the time with various companies, trying to handle their affairs. They’re not the best with computers, but they try, just like this caller. I immediately made her complete resolution my only priority.
The caller felt embarrassed, and kept saying she “didn’t want to take up any more of my time” – I reassured her over and over again that she had nothing to apologize for, and that as long as we were making progress, no matter how small, that was all that mattered – I wasn’t going anywhere.
More than 30 minutes later, after moving her from a tablet (which wasn’t loading the site properly), to getting her to the sign-in page, and walking her through the online access registration (with a few minor hiccups along the way), she was logged in. I will never forget how grateful she was at that point. To reassure her further, and to show her how easy it was, I asked her to log out, close her browser, and log back in, which she did. Once she was back in, I gave her a quick tour, showing her where she could view her coverage, claim statements, and submit her claims.
Now, onto phase two! She had two claims she was trying to submit, a paramedical e-claim, and lab work which was not something that was compatible through the desktop site. I gave the option for the mobile app, where she let out a memorable laugh, saying that she uses a flip phone. Now that she was logged in, we managed to keep the momentum going and have her paramedical e-claim submitted. Being able to confirm receipt of her claim immediately, and hearing her relief was rewarding for us both. Now, for that lab work…I remembered her tablet! She confirmed it was an iPad. I let her know if she had a few more minutes, I’d be able to walk her through the download, and show her how to submit a picture. She was very grateful, but was laughing (she had to go), and her laugh had me smiling. She declined to follow through with the app, opting to mail the lab-work instead.
We said our goodbyes which overlapped, and lingered with some more laughs and smiles, then the call was over. There are the calls where you can tell members are on the go, squeezing a call to the CCC into their already busy schedule, then there are calls like this one, where it’s someone calling for help. Here was a lovely lady who had put aside nearly an entire day dealing with the phone-system, speaking to multiple reps, all to try and submit their claims. This was a person who knew they could mail their claims, but wanted to try and take advantage of a service Sun Life offered, a service that was supposed to make things easier for this person. She was completely understanding and hopeful, and once she was in, sharing in her accomplishment on, and understanding of the site was as welcome an experience as one could hope for in the CCC.
Daniel Arnold – Sun Life Financial
My Brighter Way
“... anticipating their needs and providing solutions as well as next steps”
My SQM story is about a change that I helped to implement at Sun Life Financial that now affects millions of Canadians all across the country. This change was inspired by a simple question from a member:
"Why can't I see my personal investments as well as my Group Retirement on the Sun Life mobile app?"
I have worked in customer care for upwards of ten years, but I had no idea how much of an impact I could have in my role as a customer care representative at Sun Life Financial. Working here in the call center is so much more than just answering phones. It's providing members with peace of mind with their investments. It's anticipating their needs and providing solutions as well as next steps. It's creating a client-for-life experience that makes our members happy to call in about their retirement.
I'll never forget a conversation I had with a member who simply called in for some assistance using the Sun Life mobile app. They wondered why their personal investments weren't listed alongside their Group Retirement. At the time, the app only showed members' Group Retirement accounts. I thought that having everything together was a great idea; after all, we want to give our members the best customer service experience possible, so having all their financial information in the same place would make perfect sense.
Luckily, Sun Life has a program called “The Brighter Way”, which strongly encourages its employees to submit suggestions they think would help the company grow. I knew that by submitting this idea to Sun Life, I would be going the extra mile for this member, bolstering her relationship with us and providing her with peace of mind. We call this type of suggestion a “quick win”, because both the member and Sun Life benefit from it!
Later that day, I approached my team leader for some help with submitting this "CI", or “Continuous Improvement”, as we call them. She encouraged me to submit my CI, and provided me with the tools and knowledge to do so.
After a little research and some advice from our best practices team, I nervously submitted my idea. About a week or so later (and much to my surprise), my suggestion had moved from “in review” to “completed!” It was then immediately implemented on mobile apps across the country. Still shocked, I opened the Sun Life app on my cell phone, and there it was: my own retirement account, separated by “Workplace” and “Personal!”
Well, I can barely describe how excited I was to call the member back. Not only had her suggestion come to fruition, but it only took a matter of weeks for the entire process! When I spoke to her, I asked her to open her phone and take a look at her investments screen on the Sun Life mobile app. She was beyond blown away at seeing her suggestion implemented, and wondered how I made this happen so quickly. She actually thought that I had set this up just for her phone – and was flabbergasted when I told her millions of Canadians could now see the same thing on their mobile devices!
The member was overjoyed. She described to me how much it meant to her that even at a big company, her voice was heard. I knew that by going the extra mile for her, I was making this member a Client for Life. At Sun Life, I am not only a client care representative; I am empowered to make changes based on the client’s needs. I am a client advocate.
Isaac Gillan – Sun Life Financial
“... a call that changed a bad day into a day of personal satisfaction”
Working in a call centre can sometimes be difficult to handle at the end of the day. It is important, when we leave work, to let it go and not think about it anymore. If, during the day, there were a few difficult calls that made you sad or put you in a bad mood, it is also important to talk about it once and then move on. On the other hand, working in a call centre can bring you joy, inner peace, and satisfaction at the end of your day. When a day went well, you also need to express it because each day is different and it’s important to talk about it even if it was positive. After four years in the Sun Life Financial client service centre, there are multiple stories that come to mind and remind me that if a day went bad, one call can completely turn it around. Here is the story of a call that changed a bad day into a day of personal satisfaction.
The client contacted the call centre in order to validate some information that, for her, was not clear. According to her, she would have had a limited service in the past when she contacted us. She did not get answers to her questions. The elderly woman first asked me to speak slowly in order to understand me properly. I can say that taking your time can make a big difference for us and for others. Sometimes it can be hard to deal with both efficiency and quality during a call and trying to balance both can make you feel pressured. For my part, it took a few years in the call centre to maintain this strength. I had to work on my self-discipline day after day. I had to work on my patience and my concentration. Once these two strengths are well handled, then it becomes possible to achieve the balance between quality and efficiency.
The lady therefore asked me to speak slowly. It was a great opportunity to demonstrate compassion and respect during a call that could be difficult to control. Self-control and compassion for others are two important qualities in this field of work. The lady was so sweet and I think she had just been misunderstood in the past. She made me understand her needs and what she was looking for right at the beginning of the call. There was no reason to me not to understand her, so it was a great start for this call. When someone is clear and accurate, everything is easier.
The story: The client had received a cheque with a specific amount on it. She wanted to know the reason why it had been sent to her and if she was allowed to cash it. The last time that she had contacted the call centre, she had gotten no answer to her questions. She was expressing herself properly, but she talked very slowly. She was easy to understand. She also repeated the same information five or six times during the call. She was irritated by the fact that the last person she spoke with apparently did not take the time to explain things as I was doing. Furthermore, she had been transferred four times before she was able to find someone on the proper queue.
First, we have to ask ourselves: what was she was really looking for? I started to confirm that I would be able to help and assist her. My tone of voice suddenly changed. I was talking slowly and made sure that she was able to hear me well. The key is to adjust your tone to the client’s mood and needs. To speak louder and faster would not have helped the situation. I could see clearly that the lady was concerned about something. “Today, we will take the time to find out the reason why you received a cheque.” I started to authenticate the client in order to access her file. I thought that the cheque was probably explained by dividends or a loan taken on her policy. I did not expect what I was about to discover.
The lady told me that she was very happy to finally get help with her search. I started to take a look at the client’s file in the appropriate service request. After reviewing it, I realized that we have never issued a loan or dividends cheque to the client. In fact, the client had not called the call centre for many years. “Did you ever have shares with Sun Life Financial?” “No, sweetheart!” I was really starting to wonder what the reason was. She confirmed that the cheque had been sent by Sun Life Financial. I asked her the cheque amount and she answered that it was in the six digits.
“Oh my gosh! What could that possibly be?” I asked myself. I called our tier 2 department and asked them to help me find the answer for this client. The other agent had no idea why we had sent a cheque to this client either, but then she suggested that I call the Life Claims department, just to be sure. I began to wonder if that could really be the key to this mystery, if it could be a death benefit payment for which this lady was the beneficiary. If that was the case, she should have been aware of the circumstances, but she was very confused. Before I called the Life Claims department, I asked the client to verify if there was any description on the cheque that would explain why it had been sent. She answered with a man’s name, and said that it was the name of one of her sons. I asked her when she had received the cheque, but she did not remember. She then said that next to her son’s name, it said “deceased”. But still, she had no idea why the cheque had been sent to her. “Did your son recently pass away?” “I have not spoken to him in many months. Our relationship has changed. We don’t really talk anymore.” Her tone of voice suddenly changed and I realized that she was crying. Silence on the line. I gave her a moment to catch her breath and contain herself. “Were you aware of your son’s passing?”
It is only at that moment that she realized that her son had passed away since the last time that she had talked to him on the phone. That was the reason why she had received this cheque on the mail. She was the beneficiary of her son’s life insurance policy. This lady most likely suffered from type of memory loss. She did not remember that a financial advisor had contacted her three or four months earlier to give her the cheque.
Working in a call centre can sometimes be difficult to handle. That day, the client was calling to obtain answers to her questions. That day, I took the time to listen to what this lady had to say and to provide the answers that she was looking for. I did everything in my power to tell her what she wanted to know. I was able to listen, research and fulfill the client’s needs. There is no doubt that the news that she received on that day were very troubling, but at least she had now learned the truth. This lady could now mourn her son and find comfort in the knowledge that he had left her a gift that would make the rest of her life easier. Taking your time can make all the difference in the world. Patience, respect and coherence are vital strengths when working with other human beings. Empathy is also a quality that allows you to stand out, and people will be grateful for it.
Julie Dion – Sun Life Financial
A Blood Curdling Call
“I knew, right from that moment, that I would do everything I could to try to put a bit of hope in this client’s day”
On May 1st, 2016, a wildfire began southwest of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. On May 3rd, it swept through the community, forcing the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta’s history. After sweeping through Fort McMurray, the wildfire destroyed approximately 2,400 homes and buildings, forcing more than 80,000 residents to flee and killing two people trying to escape the flames.
It was about a week later when I received his call. In the first seconds of the call I knew what was happening on the other side of that line and it was heartbreaking. I began the greeting of my call as usual, without knowing what was coming. Thank you for calling, my name is Katrine. May I have your account number or Access ID please? The caller told me had had absolutely no idea what it is, that he was an employee from Fort McMurray and every piece of paper he owned was now in a pile of ash.
My blood turned cold. I knew, right from that moment, that I would do everything I could to try to put a bit of hope in this client’s day. I told him that Sun Life Financial and I were empathizing for what he and all the people impacted by the Fort McMurray fires were going through, and that we were going to do everything under our control in order to find the best solutions to meet their needs. I created a relationship with him right away – talking about how this must be difficult and that I would send him the money he needs without any problem. Sun Life Financial and his employer had waived the usual restriction on the Employee Savings Plan withdrawals, allowing me to give the best service possible for this poor man and his family. He almost cried when I explained that the restriction was going to be waived for him. He was so thankful!
While I was calculating the total amount that I would be able to send him, he told me that he was really happy to talk to someone that seemed to understand what he was going through. He told me that he and his family were safe, but he was feeling guilty about withdrawing all the funds he had saved in his Savings Plan. I re-assured him that the most important thing was the safety of his family, and that he was not impacting the amount he would receive at retirement. He still had a Defined contribution pension plan that was assuring a retirement income sufficient for him. After giving the total amount that I was withdrawing for him, which was $47,000, I began to enter his withdrawal. I have never put him on hold; I wanted to make sure he knew that I was staying with him and was taking care of him right away. While I was entering the transaction, the line was silent. He broke the silence because he needed to talk. He told me that he was standing in Wal-Mart’s parking lot right now, trying to figure out how to repurchase a quarter of the items he had just lost. He didn’t even have his cards with him and only had $30 left. He said he guessed he would be sleeping there tonight. His wife and him were hungry, and they had almost have no more gas left in the car and really didn’t know where to begin.
Wow. I honestly never thought that I would be confronted with a situation like this. We are used to empathizing with our clients when they are going through rough times, but I never thought I’d feel as bad as I felt in that moment. I told him not to worry about the money, that he would be getting $47,000 directly in his bank account first thing tomorrow morning. I told him to take it easy tonight, to go buy something to eat for him and his wife. The money he would get the next morning would be sufficient to fill his car with gas and buy the necessary items they would need. As he told me that he didn’t have his cards with him, I proactively asked the name of his bank. I told him to open his Notes in his cellphone and gave the Customer service phone number for RBC. He would call them right away after our conversation in order to make sure the deposit would be received in the morning, and that he would be able to withdraw money at any branch, even without his debit card. I explained that if he needed anything else, he could just call me back. I gave him my employee ID and told him that I would be praying for him tonight.
I am used to going above and beyond for my clients. I am used to trying to make them laugh and make their day joyous. I am used to taking care of my client’s requests efficiently and professionally. I am also used to giving the service I would want to be given each time I pick up the phone. I basically try as much as I can to put myself in the client’s shoes, to understand what they are going through in order to help them in the best way possible, and this is what made me feel this way with this individual. I still wonder how his life is going now, I care about him and this is why I chose this call to be my SQM story.
Katrine Gagnon – Sun Life Financial
My Brighter Way
“At that moment, I knew what I was going to do”
“She told me I had made her week and that she would be telling everyone how helpful Sun Life is and how we go above and beyond for our customers. ”
I remember when a woman called in and I could hear right away in her voice she was very distressed. She told me that she was having a really hard time with some claims. I apologized to her and said I would do whatever I could to help resolve the issue. She told me she was calling about her son who was having orthodontic work done. She had submitted multiple claims, which had all been declined requesting the same thing, a treatment plan. When I pulled up the claims, I noticed they were the same claims that had been submitted multiple times, most had been submitted electronically and the most recent one through paper.
I could see from her file that she had called multiple times about these claims and could understand why she was frustrated; she was out of pocket a lot of money and had spent a lot of time on the phone. I expressed to her that the dental office needed to provide her with the treatment plan so she could send it to Sun Life, or the dental office could send it to Sun Life on her behalf. I said we could set up a file for a fax to expedite the issue and have the claims resolved as soon as possible. At this point, the woman got choked up and started to cry. She explained that she had gone to the orthodontist multiple times to ask for treatment plan, but the orthodontist office refused to give her one. They told her that ‘no orthodontist gives treatment plans’. I assured her that treatment plans were very normal as they give the overall picture of the treatment. She agreed and expressed she knew they were standard since her other child had orthodontics in the past. Her previous orthodontist had retired and the orthodontist her son was seeing was new. They also happened to be the only orthodontist close by since she lived in a small town. She was frustrated because they were giving her so much grief, she desperately wanted to go somewhere else but couldn’t because all the other offices were too far. She kept saying that she felt trapped and hopeless about the entire situation and was really stressed because she needed the claim payments to pay her bills and cash was tight.
I empathized with her and told her I was sorry. I had noticed the orthodontist office had never called about her plan. I told her that if they were confused they were welcome to call Sun Life and we could explain to them exactly what we require to pay the claim, so she wouldn’t have to keep being the middle man. It turns out she had begged them to call and they refused multiple times.
She then informed me she was going to the office later to speak to them one more time, even though it was hopeless. I asked her when she was going and she told me 4:30pm. At that moment, I knew what I was going to do. I told her my shift finished at 4:30 and that I would call her cellphone when she was at the orthodontist office and she could pass her phone to the receptionist and I would speak to them on her behalf. Since they refused to contact Sun Life, she would bring Sun Life (me) to them. She was very grateful and told me she was looking forward to my call and thanked me for giving my own time to help her. I told her it was no problem at all and that I would do whatever it takes to assist her.
At 4:30pm, I called her and she passed me over to the receptionist as instructed. They were very difficult with me, they kept telling me that treatment plans ‘weren’t normal’. I broke down exactly what was needed on the treatment plan and told them I would keep talking to them until they gave one to the woman. After talking to them for almost 20 minutes, they drafted up a treatment plan and gave a copy to the woman and passed the cell back to her. When she started speaking, she was choked up. She had tried for over a month to get this information and was denied every time yet she finally now had the papers in her hands. I then arranged to have the documents faxed in and told her I would keep an eye on her file to make sure the fax was received and sent for processing as well that I would call her again to touch base. I kept a note for myself and checked her file for the next few days, until I saw the fax. I reviewed it to make sure all the documents were accurate and forwarded for processing. After a few days, the claims were paid out.
I called her back and stated the claims were paid and she should see the money in her account within the next 24-48 hours. She said she had almost no words for how grateful she was and couldn’t say thank you enough and that no one had given their own time to help her before. She told me she was also sorry that I had stayed so long after my shift to speak to the dentist and spent more time to call her back. I told her it I was happy to help and she had nothing to be sorry for. She told me I had made her week and that she would be telling everyone how helpful Sun Life is and how we go above and beyond for our customers.
Melanie Luckhurst – Sun Life Financial
A Difficult Time
“... in these moments, it becomes our job to bring some light to their day”
Working in the Group Benefits Line of Sun Life’s Customer Care Center means we speak to a lot of people who are at different stages in their life, but when they call us they have one thing in common. They need us to help them understand their benefits to make the best decisions on proposed medical and dental treatments/services. Sometimes these calls come at our client’s darkest times, and in these moments, it becomes our job to bring some light to their day.
In 2016, a few weeks before Christmas, I got a call from a member’s wife asking if they had hospital coverage. As with all calls of this kind, I started by advising the caller that the question she was asking was a bit more involved. I asked if it would be ok if I asked some more detailed questions. There were quite a few of my questions that she was not able to answer. One of them being, what type of room the hospital would be charging. It was then that she started to explain the situation further.
About 2 weeks prior, her husband, our client, collapsed at home. He was rushed to the hospital via ambulance and put through a battery of tests to find out what was wrong. Unfortunately, the results came back that he had terminal cancer, stage 4 and the doctors were giving him only weeks to live. They weren’t even sure if he would make it to Christmas. Furthermore, their youngest son was in the middle of exams and they were holding off telling him as they wanted him to be focused on his grades. He would be finishing his exams at the end of the week and they were hoping to have a private hospital room in which to break the news to him and to allow their entire family to say their goodbyes.
The caller was quite emotional, and multiple times when explaining the circumstances she had to pause to regain her composure. Understanding how hard this situation must be for her and her family, I assured her not to worry about taking a moment and that we were in no rush.
After her explanation, I provided her as much information I could. I followed this up with clear steps that she needed to do to confirm what coverages would apply and next steps if the hospital indicated that they would be charging any other type of room. I wanted to make this process as easy as possible.
This is when I remembered a detail she had mentioned earlier, and I asked if the hospital had submitted her ambulance bill to Sun Life directly. She indicated they hadn’t, so I provided her the steps she needed to take to get the bill submitted to us for reimbursement and advised her of what her coverage was.
While providing this information, I took a quick second to confirm if the caller had consent to the financial details of her husband’s plan. I found that she didn’t. I immediately brought this to her attention and asked if she and her husband had set up a Power of Attorney. They hadn’t yet but were planning on doing that later in the week. I asked her to make a copy of that Power of Attorney and gave her the steps to submit this information to us to avoid any difficulties in submitting claims or gaining information on her husband’s policy at a later date.
Before ending the call, I quickly reviewed all the information we’d gone through, re-iterated all the steps we’d discussed and took the time to allow her to write down the key pieces to make sure she had it right so she wouldn’t have to spend any of the precious time she had calling us again. I know this was a very difficult call for her to make but, she expressed how thankful she was for Sun Life to have taken the time to understand the situation and not only attempt to give her the answers she needed, but also went above and beyond to provide her with valuable information she didn’t know she needed.
Its calls like these where you can make a difference in a client’s time of need that makes this job so rewarding.
Melissa McGahey – Sun Life Financial
2015 Top Twenty-Five CSR Finalists Great Customer Service Stories
Remained in Control of the Call
“Troy transformed from a mere Customer Service Representative, to the ideal member advocate and provider of care”
Troy began his tenure with AmeriHealth Caritas in April 2015, and has been the model employee since day one, including the achievement of perfect attendance for his entire tenure. From my first interaction with Troy to this present time, he has always stressed the importance of customer satisfaction in every interaction. Troy has a dedication to empathizing with and resolving any inquiries presented by a member, and will go above and beyond to remove barriers that may be preventing the member from receiving the care they so desperately need and deserve. Troy’s consistently exceptional quality scores, positive customer feedback, and World Class Survey results are key indicators in determining his level of commitment as a Customer Service Representative. Customer Service can be challenge in any arena, but specifically when attempting to meet the healthcare needs of an underprivileged and under-served population. Troy has risen to this challenge, and has taken advantage of every call as an opportunity to positively impact our member’s lives and overall well-being.
One call in particular where this was demonstrated, pertained to an extremely irate and difficult member who called into our Contact Center. The member was ill and had faced challenges in the past with receiving her prescribed medication. By the time the member reached Troy, she was at the point of distress and was less than pleased with the service she had received thus far. Call monitoring is a standard part of our coaching program, and as Troy’s Supervisor I just so happened to be silently monitoring this call from my desk. I was able to hear how uncooperative and verbally abusive the caller was towards Troy, and immediately walked over to provide him with some additional support. However, I was in for a pleasant surprise as I approached Troy’s desk! The average Customer Service Representative would be upset and visibly shaken after being berated over the telephone for several minutes. Troy on the other hand was calm, remained in control of the call, and was still very much committed to assisting the caller despite her demeanor. I watched as Troy utilized intuitive listening and consummate soft skills to de-escalate the matter, while also winning the member over through his confidence that he could achieve a positive resolution to her issue. During this call, Troy transformed from a mere Customer Service Representative, to the ideal member advocate and provider of care. He remained engaged and dedicated to this caller, even when her issues went far beyond his scope of influence. Troy would have been well within his right to simply transfer the caller to our Pharmacy department, but instead chose to speak to the Pharmacy department on the member’s behalf to ensure that the member received the medication that was needed and didn’t encounter any further inconveniences. By the end of the call the member that was dissatisfied with our company and all of the Customer Service Representatives she spoke to previously, was overjoyed with Troy’s service. Troy uses that same level of compassion and dedication on all of his calls, which is why he is more than deserving of the CSR of the Year award.
Troy Hammond Little – AmeriHealth Caritas
Life-Changing Customer Service
“Thanks to Dan’s exceptional customer service skills and commitment to what he does, this member does not have to worry about anything else”
I believe that most Customer Service Representatives don’t fully realize the impact they have on the lives of others. Customer Service Representatives are the listening ear and the helping hand. They provide the information, the guidance and the caring support that change the lives of their customers. Working in the Health Care Industry, I have the honor of witnessing the impact that my team of Customer Service Representatives have on the lives of our members on a daily basis.
The backdrop to an amazing customer service story that I would like to share is framed by a sad reality we are facing today. Chances are each of you has heard about our country’s escalating opioid addiction crisis. The opioid crisis is impacting families and communities across all socioeconomic groups and leaving many destroyed lives in its wake. Because of the industry I work in, my team of Customer Service Representatives assists many members who have been personally touched by this growing epidemic. It is in this context that Daniel Peters was able to provide a life-changing customer service experience to one of our members who had been impacted by opioid addiction. Dan realized as soon as the call came in that on the other end of the line was a member who needed help. The member sounded frantic and there was a lot of fear and anxiety in her voice. Dan paid close attention to everything the member was saying in order to completely understand the bits and pieces of information she was providing to him. By deploying a caring and calm tone, and by asking the correct questions, Dan was able to get the full picture of the member’s issue.
Our member had been in the middle of her opioid addiction treatment when, as life would have it, unforeseen circumstances forced her to move to another state. As if moving to a different state mid-treatment was not bad enough, there were no clinics or doctors close to the member’s new residence that would accept her insurance. The member had found a clinic that could provide the treatment she needed, but they would not accept her insurance, and had asked for payment up front. The member was not only worried because there was a possibility that she would not be able to complete the treatment she so desperately needed but, now in addition, she had to decide between her treatment and, without insurance coverage, the ability to put food on the table for her children. Dan was profoundly moved by the member’s predicament and did not need to hear anything else. Dan was committed to becoming this member’s advocate and on not giving up until he was able to resolve the issue at hand.
Resolving the issue at hand would not be easy so Dan didn’t waste any time. He knew that this was not an issue that would be solved with one phone call while the member waited on hold. Dan started working the problem by contacting his manager. After explaining the situation, Dan requested the approval for the additional time commitment it would require to resolve the situation. With his manager’s full support, Dan explained to the member that he would work on her issue and call her back with an update shortly, and that he would continue to do it until everything was resolved. The member sounded relieved but still uncertain before disconnecting. Dan knew he would have to gain the member’s trust with quick hard work!
Because there were so many steps that needed to be completed, after the member disconnected, Dan started by contacting the clinic where the member was going for her treatment. Dan explained to the clinic that an authorization was required and walked the provider through the steps of getting the correct form, filling it out and faxing it to the correct department. At the end of the first day, Dan contacted the member to advise her of what he had accomplished and what he was planning to do on the next day. The member shared that she was happy and surprised to hear back from him on the same day.
On the next day, as soon as he received the authorization paperwork from the clinic, Dan worked with an internal department to get it escalated as a priority. By mid-day Dan found out that additional information was necessary and he called the out-of-state clinic one more time to get the required documents. At the end of the second day, Dan called the member to advise what had happened and that he had already received the additional paperwork. He explained he just needed to allow the authorization department to complete the review of the request. By Dan’s second follow-up call, the member’s tone had changed. Dan had gained her trust! This member knew Dan would be doing everything he could do to help her.
Dan called the member again on the third day. This time, Dan was happy to advise the member that the authorization had been approved. Upon approval, the clinic had come to agree to submit the claim to the insurance on the member’s behalf, and would not be asking the member to pay for the services up front out of pocket. Upon hearing this news from Dan, our member could no longer contain her tears, but this time they were happy tears. The member proceeded to tell Dan that she had never had anyone help her like he did and that she was now looking forward to kicking her addition and to the wonderful drug-free life ahead of her.
In sharing this story, I am hoping to convey that Customer Service Representatives can change lives! Thanks to Dan’s exceptional customer service skills and commitment to what he does, this member does not have to worry about anything else but her recovery.
Thanks Dan for always providing this level of customer service to every member you come in contact with. Customer Service Representatives like you make me proud to say that I am a Customer Service Manager.
Daniel Peters – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
The Service They Deserve
“Each call that Alex takes is a story of how she exceeds the customer’s expectations”
Customer Service has evolved over the past decade for the betterment of our customers. In years past, customer service was focused on the number of calls; the shift is now on resolving customer issues. Alex has been with BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina for over 13 years and all in Customer Service. She truly loves what she does and it shows. She has embraced the changes in customer service and evolved with the times. At one time she took a high number of calls. Now she is a world class advocate.
This is Alex’s third consecutive year as a world class advocate, as designated by SQM. Every day, Alex goes above and beyond for our members, so each call that Alex takes is a story of how she exceeds the customer’s expectations. Customers ask for Alex when they call, knowing their issue will be resolved and they will get the service they deserve. When not on the phone, Alex coaches other advocates and assists with their inquiries.
The below is a typical example of how Alex goes above and beyond for her members:
On one of the last days of the year in 2015, Alex received a call from a member who was wheelchair-bound. The member lived in New York City and could not get around the city without a mechanical scooter. The member stated to Alex that she had a scooter but it became inoperable the previous month and she has not been able to leave her apartment since. The subway was over two blocks away so the member had been a “shut-in” for over a month. This left her unable to make her doctor appointments and visit family over the holiday. She stated that because of not being able to leave her apartment, she had not been able to go and get a replacement scooter. The member had satisfied her deductible in 2015; however, since 2016 was less than a day or two away, she stated she would not be able to afford to get the scooter.
Alex took this as a challenge to get the member’s issue taken care of that day. With a short window of time Alex began calling all in-network providers in the area. After over 10 calls to multiple providers, she found a provider that was willing to not only file the claim that day, but deliver the scooter to the member the next day. Alex’s work was still not done at this point; she then had to ensure the precertification was authorized since the process was not started. Alex was able to accomplish all of this in less than 24 hours so the member could get around the city. The member personally thanked Alex, saying that no one had ever taken the time to treat her like a person and go the extra mile.
Alex Beeks – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina
This One Was Special
“By Pam identifying the root cause of the member’s issue and enlisting the assistance of other departments, this helped address the needs of the customer and may have saved the member’s life”
Pam received a call from a member one day seeking assistance with her prescription refill. This wasn’t just any member or your regular pharmacy refill, this one was special. As Pam engaged in the call and read the previous notes, she realized this member had called in before and her Prior Authorization (PA) issue had not been resolved. The member stated she was on two waiting lists for a kidney transplant, so not having her medication could be a matter of life or death for her. The member explained that having the medication allows her to maintain normal hemoglobin levels, which allow her to be transplant-eligible. When her lab work was submitted with the Prior Authorization (PA) request, the PA was denied, stating the member did not need the medication if her levels were normal. However, without the medication, she cannot maintain normal levels.
One of the critical aspects of this situation is, without normal hemoglobin levels, the member is not eligible for a transplant. Once the hemoglobin levels drop, it takes two months of uninterrupted medication for levels to return to the point where she can be transplant-eligible again.
Pam escalated the issue to an internal unit, and the manager immediately put his team in motion to offer assistance based on Pam’s detailed information regarding the customer’s issue. She wanted to do all she could to avoid having the member visit the ER. Pam remained in constant contact with the member keeping her informed of any updates to her case. Marketplace contacted the provider to initiate the authorization for the medication. By escalating the issue, Pam was able to get the PA transferred from the member’s old policy to her new policy and also arranged for an emergency overnight delivery of the medication. The medication was approved for 12 weeks and Pam ensured the medication was overnighted to the customer.
Although Pam was relieved that the member had received the overnight delivery and had been approved for 12 weeks, she was still not completely satisfied. Pam felt like this was a temporary fix, so she continued probing, asking: What can be done to prevent the same issue from occurring after the 12 weeks? Is Case Management or some other resource available for this member? What are our options? What can I advise the member? Pam realized the root cause of this issue was going to continue to be a problem as long as the member’s labs look normal and she does not get approved for her medication, which also makes her ineligible for a transplant. So, Pam took the initiative to dig deeper.
As Pam continued probing to her management and other internal areas, this sparked much attention internally to assist the member. The provider was then contacted and it was learned the criteria had changed for the PA, which was great news for the member. In addition, it was found that the member was not showing on the exchange transplant list and notified Case Management. Case Management determined the member had not been pre-certified which prompted them to reach out to the facilities that the member indicated she was on the waiting list for and assisted with the precertification. The member is now showing on the transplant list for four facilities. In addition, the member has been assigned to a case manager for follow-up. Pam contacts the member regularly to follow up as well and ensure her needs are being met.
By Pam identifying the root cause of the member’s issue and enlisting the assistance of other departments, this helped address the needs of the customer and may have saved the member’s life. Based on Pam’s actions, a new procedure has been developed to be more proactive in these types of cases and ensure the customers receive their specialty medications in a timely manner.
Pamela Cragin – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina
A Last-Ditch Effort to Resolve the Issue
“The member had turned to us in his time of need and Amir took ownership of the issue”
Customer service consistently presents some challenges for the people who serve on the front lines every day. Our customer service advocates are tasked with not only being the face and voice of our company, but the subject matter expert as well. In addition to knowing all of the business rules and policies, our advocates need to be well versed in acknowledgement and de-escalation skills to help diffuse the often emotional calls that come in. It takes a special person to embrace the unexpected and diligently work to resolve the caller’s issue in the face of adversity. Amir Shokoohi is one of those special people. Amir is the epitome of a world class advocate. Patient, empathetic, and laborious are three of the first words that come to mind when thinking of Amir. On a day in February, Amir put all of these skills into play when resolving an issue that was escalated to the CEO of our company from an extremely dissatisfied member.
The introduction of the Affordable Care Act Plan saw a new level of governmental oversight projected into the health insurance industry. This has placed limitations on actions that customer service advocates could take to resolve issues. Recently, one of our members found himself in a situation that was created by the new limitations. Back in February, Amir was tasked with reaching out to a member who had contacted the CEO of our company. The member was extremely frustrated and had given up any hope of receiving the assistance that he needed from our customer service advocates. He saw his only option as voicing his complaint to the CEO in a last-ditch effort to resolve the issue. The root cause of the member’s issue was a policy cancellation that was caused by the nonpayment of health insurance premiums. The member was having a difficult time keeping up with the insurance payments. He was making payments to the best of his ability, but unfortunately this eventually caused his policy to cancel. The main issue with this was the member was adamant that he had made all of his payments that he was billed for. This caused him to be extremely upset and resulted in numerous calls into our department. He needed a prescription and could not pick it up because the policy was cancelled. When our member felt like he had no other options because, in his opinion, no one was willing to help him, he sought assistance from our CEO.
Upon receipt of the member’s complaint, our CEO brought the operations team into the issue. Amir was asked to research the issue and see what was going on. As soon as Amir was given this assignment, he immediately prioritized the issue because it was clear that the member’s needs were not being met. Through his careful review, Amir was able to create a detailed timeline of the payment history of the member’s account. The allowed him to determine the viable solutions with the options the member had available to him.
Armed with the account audit results and available options for the member, Amir then reached out to the member. Amir spent a significant amount of time just listening to the member. He wanted the member to know that he was being heard and that he truly mattered to the team. Until the call with Amir, the member had not had his emotion or issue truly acknowledged. By making sure the member knew he was being heard, Amir created an atmosphere in which the member was now ready to listen. Amir went through every piece of the payment history. He provided specific dates and times those payments processed. By going through this with such attention to detail, Amir helped the member realize that he did not make a payment as he thought he did. Once the member came to this realization, Amir began to discuss how the member could reinstate his coverage. By reinstating the coverage, the member would then be able to secure his prescription that he needed. As Amir explained to the member how much of a payment was needed in order to activate the coverage, this brought another dimension to the problem at hand. The member began to talk in detail about how he recently had a significant decrease in his income. He was going through severe financial distress and did not have the money to make the payment at the time. Amir, once again, listened and acknowledged how problematic that this was for the member Amir asked the member if he could do some additional research and call him back. While he was at first hesitant, the member agreed. Once off the call, Amir sought the approval of his management staff to allow an exception in regard to the payment due requirement. While it is standard operation procedure to require full payment at the time of reinstatement, Amir advocated on behalf of this member. He put forth the notion that this man was in need of his medication and his current financial situation was created through no fault of his own. He had become a victim of circumstance and this would be an opportunity for us to give him a break. Amir was able to compel the management staff to make an exception. Amir immediately called the member back because he knew that this issue would continue to weigh heavily on the member’s mind until there was a resolution. Amir advised the member that he had gotten approval to allow the policy to be reinstated with a verbal commitment to make full payment the following Monday. The member was elated! He was more than willing to make the payment – he just needed a couple more days. While they were still on the phone, Amir was able to have both the medical and prescription coverage reinstated. He reached out to the member’s pharmacy and had the prescription reprocessed. Amir confirmed the correct copayment amount for the medication. He brought the member back on the line and told him his medication was ready for pick up. He was also able to let the member know how much it would cost. The member could not thank Amir enough. Amir had advocated for this member when he needed it the most.
While this was the solution to the member’s immediate issue, Amir had come to the realization that there was a bigger issue at hand. Through his active listening, Amir was also able to anticipate that if this member did not look into a more cost-effective plan he would likely find himself in a similar situation in the future. This was not an option for Amir. He wanted to ensure this member not only had access to insurance but he wanted to make sure the member would not have to encounter this type of situation again if at all possible.
Amir explained to the member that he wanted to facilitate a phone call with the Federal Marketplace in order to ensure that the correct income amount for his household was on file. By confirming the income amount on file, Amir can ensure that the member had access to all of the assistance he was entitled to. The member was more than appreciative because he did not realize this was an option to him. He was impressed that Amir would even take the time to think about something like this for him. After spending a great deal of time on the phone with the member and the Federal Marketplace, Amir had confirmed that there was an error with the amount of household income the member had on file. This had caused the member to have to pay more per month for his premium and his cost share on the insurance plan. Through his attention to detail and active listening, Amir was successfully able to assist the member in enrolling in another one of our plans that allowed him to take advantage of all of the assistance he was now entitled to since his income decrease.
To say that the member was thankful would be an extreme understatement. He was overjoyed! In fact, the same member who lodged a complaint with our CEO sent a glowing letter of appreciation back to the CEO to explain that he was impressed with the level of service and professionalism that Amir had provided to him. His view of our insurance company was completely changed because of the actions of Amir. Amir took the time to make sure the member knew he was heard and that he mattered and that he truly mattered and was not just a number. Amir recognized that there was a person on the other end of the phone and he had feelings. The member had turned to us in his time of need and Amir took ownership of the issue and worked until the member’s immediate and long terms needs were handled.
Too often people seek to resolve the immediate issue at hand and do not take the time to look forward and anticipate future needs. It is this type of forward thinking that will prove to be the world class service that all companies strive to provide. Amir Shokoohi has proven countless times that he always seeks to take ownership of the issue at hand and work diligently until it is resolved. He is a true asset to our members, team, and company as a whole!
Amir Shokoohi – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina
Focused On Resolving the Issue Permanently
“Now claims are being paid to providers for not only this member, but for all members in this circumstance”
Sometimes all it takes to resolve a call is asking yourself “What is the rest of the story?” Such was the case with this call. I received a call from a member, frustrated and angry that she was STILL having issues with getting her HRA to pay for her services directly. I could see that she had called previously and she was sick of trying to track down payments and confused as to why the process wasn’t working the way she and I both believed it should be. I knew there had to be an underlying issue that was causing this to happen over and over that there was “more to the story.” I assured her I would not only reach out to the HRA Company on her behalf to confirm the status of these payments, but would also work to determine what was causing this issue and correct it for future services.
For this plan, BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont had set up a file feed with her HRA Company to automatically send claims processing data to them. The HRA account could then pay her providers directly for any cost shares covered by the HRA, such as deductible. Normally, the HRA Company receives the provider’s mailing information from our claims data feed, however, with providers outside our area the process is a little different. In this case, the file feed would indicate the Provider is “Out of State,” and the HRA Company’s system would then check a different area of the file for the Out of State provider’s address.
I knew from the wife’s frustration that she really didn’t understand what was happening, since she kept being told by the HRA Company that payments were made and cashed, but she was still getting bills from some of her providers.
By working with both an internal contact, and with the HRA Company, we were able to determine that the HRA Company’s system was reading “Out of State” in the address section as equaling “no address available,” and setting up the claims to pay the member instead of checking for the address in the correct section of the file. This was the root cause of the member’s issue. She was receiving bills from the provider and having to call the HRA Company to find out where the payments were. During those calls, they would advise payments had been cashed, but when she called her provider he had no record of them. With this additional level of detail, we determined that the payments would go to her husband from the HRA Company because he was the policy holder, and he was cashing or depositing these payments. Then she would receive a bill and have no knowledge of receiving the checks. I was able to work with the HRA Company to determine what dates of service were paid by them, who they were paid to, as well as if they had been cashed. Then I was able to tell the wife what checks went to her husband and for what dates, so they could pay the provider for those dates.
Meanwhile, I was also working with our internal contact for the HRA Company to determine how to resolve this for the future. After we determined the cause was with the way the HRA company processed the Out of State provider claims, our internal contact worked out a process with the HRA company to work all the out of state providers’ claims manually, until the system was corrected to automatically look for the address the way it was supposed to.
Throughout this process, I was continuously keeping the member up to date at each point in the process, as well as monitoring the member’s account for claims from out of state providers, so I could be sure the claims would be manually worked until the feed processing issues were corrected. I am happy to report that the file processing was corrected, and now claims are being paid to providers for not only this member, but for all members in this circumstance, regardless of the provider’s location. I am also glad to have been able to work with others, both at BCBSVT as well as the HRA company, who were also focused on resolving the issue permanently. The member was glad I was able to take ownership of the issue and get it permanently resolved, and I’m thankful I was able to see this member through to the end and to prevent this issue from happening to other members in the future.
Amanda Emerson – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
You Changed My Son’s Life
“You encouraged us to tell our story”
It was a typical day in the call center until I got a call transferred to me. It was a member that I had previously assisted. Thinking back to that call, I had considered it just a typical call, educating a customer on their benefits and rights. That is what we do. That was until I got this call and the member says, “you changed my son’s life”. It was then I realized it’s not always the difficult cases that we can make the biggest difference to our customers, but sometimes the calls we think are easy, remind us that our knowledge in what we do, and what we share, can change a person’s life. That’s the story I want to share.
I received a call from a Dad, calling about his young son with a hearing impairment. He was asking why we weren’t paying his son’s speech therapy claims. I researched the claims we had on file and let him know that we didn’t have any claims on file for speech therapy. I reassured him that I would outreach to the speech therapist on his behalf and ask that they submit the claims. When talking to the therapist she explained that she hadn’t submitted any of the claims because she knows it’s something that’s not covered by insurance as it falls under “developmental delays”, a service the schools provide. As we discussed the claims, the therapist shared that she felt that speech therapy for hearing loss should not fall into this category as the child’s speech therapy was for hearing loss, not for developmental delays, and that schools don’t have enough support for children with hearing loss in Vermont. They are not getting the help and education they need in this area.
I have a friend who just went through this with her own hearing impaired son and she had to move out of state to get him a proper education, so I understood what she and the family were going through. I requested that the therapist send all the claims into us, allow them to deny, as this would give the family the opportunity to file an appeal and will allow them to tell their personal story. I also advised her that she can request a benefit exception, asking the Plan to review future visits for eligibility.
I then called the family back, explained my conversation with the provider, and advised what the next steps would be in the process. I explained that when they filed the appeal, they would want to be specific on their personal struggles and the lack of support for the deaf community in Vermont schools. I advised to include how they felt that his speech therapy is for hearing loss and shouldn’t be viewed as a developmental delay, but instead eligible under his medical benefits. The family thanked me for my help and said they were glad I could relate to what they were going through and at that time, I thought that was the last I would hear from them.
When they called me and said, “We just wanted to call you and thank you for what you did for our family. You encouraged us to tell our story, because of you we were not only approved for 30 speech therapy visits this year but BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont has allowed his claims from last year too. We are so grateful for your knowledge and understanding of what we were faced with. We feel so fortunate that we got you on the phone that day, you changed our son’s life.” The member then requested to speak to my supervisor and told her that she “was amazed to call an insurance company and speak to a representative that she felt really cared about her family, and was on their side.” This compliment actually brought tears to my eyes. By putting myself in my customer’s shoes, showing empathy, sharing knowledge, and clearly explaining their options, I had made a positive difference in this family’s life and this was a great reminder of the importance of the work that we do.
Amy Duhamel – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
Walking in My Member’s Shoes
“I provided resolution to a very stressful situation and showed her that we are on her side”
When I take a call, I don’t define myself as a Senior Member Service Representative. I’m an important part of a heartfelt team which sees our members through to the end. I believe in taking ownership of each call by walking in my member’s shoes. For those few moments, I become my member. Treat them as I long to be treated. Provide empathy, respect, sincerity, and understanding. I strive to be their “Wow moment.”
Recently, I received a call from a member who was extremely upset. I could hear the panic and frustration in her voice. She had called her doctor’s office to ensure everything was set for her test the following day. During that call the radiology department told her that they couldn’t authorize the test because her payment was pending with BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont.
The member panicked and called Vermont Health Connect, our State’s exchange, responsible for this member’s premium payment and reconciliation. This call resulted in a lengthy conversation which intensified her anxiety, frustration and pain level. She’d experienced an ongoing issue with Vermont Health Connects billing system. An erroneous posting error caused her premium invoices to reflect a premium credit in error. She would call Vermont Health Connect monthly to validate her balance due; however, because the system didn’t reflect a balance due it wouldn't allow her to make a payment.
Eventually the misapplied payment posted and the invoicing credit was corrected. She now showed a balance due which put her into a 30-day grace period for lack of payment. That day she made the payment by phone and was merely waiting for the payment to post and the hold to be removed from her account.
The member was scheduled that next day for an MRI procedure. She had been in severe pain for months and had waited since June for this test that would help identify the reason for her intense pain. Now she was being told it couldn’t be authorized due to this premium issue. It was the last straw. When she called BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont, I could hear the tears welling up, the catch in her voice. You could tell she was uncomfortable and felt hopeless.
With empathy, I stepped into her shoes and took control. I reassured her that I would definitely review her account, validate why they are unable to obtain an approval and search for resolution. I placed her on a brief hold and validated that she was only in a 30-day grace period. There was no foreseeable reason why the service couldn’t be authorized. The grace period had no bearing on why an authorization was unattainable and no need for her appointment to be cancelled.
I pulled the member back onto the call and clarified who she had spoken with. She gave me the number and pre-registration contact from the hospital. I took my member out of the middle by placing her back on another brief hold, calling the hospital on her behalf, and validating what the issue was.
Upon review, I discovered they had obtained approval for the MRI but were confused when they tried to confirm the member’s benefits online and the website indicated they were in a grace period and a payment was pending. The provider assumed this meant the member was in a 60-day grace period and claims and services would suspend and reject.
I explained to the provider that the member was only in a 30-day grace period. I advised we will not suspend claims or benefits. I explained that there was a billing error with Vermont Health Connect which was in the process of being resolved. I confirmed the member had active coverage for this appointment, she should not be turned away, and the appointment should not be cancelled. With that understanding, the provider quickly rescheduled the appointment for the MRI. I pulled my member back on the line and gave her the good news.
My compassionate level of concierge service consoled and eased the member’s mind. Her feedback was that I acted quickly, was empathetic and sympathetic to her plight. I provided resolution to a very stressful situation and showed her that we are on her side. We do see our members through.
Terry Kelty – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
Quality of Care
“Her efforts have made a lasting impact with each Member that she engages with”
Samantha "Sam" Cook is one of our top performers here at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield in our Large Group Member Service SBU. She is a Primary Representative for one of our most innovative and flourishing programs called Total Care Cost Improvement (TCCI)/ Primary Center Medical Home (PCMH.) She serviced nearly 5000 Patient Center Medical Home calls in 2015 and provided the best of quality to our Local Care Coordinators and our most fragile Members; who are on care plans and working collaboratively in pursuit to improve their overall health. She additionally helped us to successfully co-pilot a Coram Site of Care outreach in July of 2015. In this pilot Sam proactively reached out to hundreds of our most ill members in order to offer them more convenient service, more convenient site of care settings, and all at a lower cost to both the members and CareFirst.
Her efforts have made a lasting impact with each Member that she engages with and those sentiments are echoed time and time again for her customers. In 2015 alone, she has received many kudos calls, internal accolades, received gold incentive monthly, was promoted to CSR II, was nominated as a monthly Rising Star, and has received multiple Service Excellence awards. She exceeded our internal Call Resolution goal in each month of 2015 and finished the year as one of our highest scoring associates out of 300 peers. She is dependable, she is a role model, a she is a dedicated associate; and more importantly she is truly changing lives on a daily basis. Below you will find just one example of the excellent customer service that she is providing daily in a letter received from a CareFirst Member that she worked with.
“Hello, I am a member of CareFirst. I recently experienced a mistake made by my employer which caused my services with CareFirst to be terminated. Once this was brought to my employer’s attention my services were immediately reinstated by CareFirst, but my employer forgot to have my prescription plan reinstated. Well, I had been notified from CVS that my auto refill prescriptions were ready for pick up. Not knowing that my prescription plan was not reinstated I wasn't able to pick up my prescriptions, which were critical as it was my blood-pressure medications. This took my employer almost two weeks to reinstate my prescription plan. In the meantime, the whole time I have been dealing with my employer to get my prescription plan reinstated, I'm assuming they were too busy to deal with my situation, you had an employee named Samantha who went above and beyond to do anything and everything to try and get my prescription plan reinstated so that I can get my blood pressure medications even though CareFirst was not my prescription provider. I just wanted to let you know how much Samantha helped me. She was very caring and understanding. She made sure she kept in contact with me and my employer to ensure I got my medicines. Through several 3-way phone calls with myself and my employer, Samantha finally got through to my employer and made sure my prescription plan was indeed reinstated. Samantha is an exceptional customer service representative. I have never had such heartfelt genuine concern for my well-being from a customer service representative before. She made me feel completely confident that she would have this situation resolved. No words can truly explain how I feel but she is greatly appreciated. I realized how blessed I was that day I called CareFirst and Samantha was the representative that answered my call! Thank you Samantha!”
The member explained a critical point in her health care in which services were denied at the point-of-sale. This happens all too often to patients and they don’t often know where to turn for assistance and the education needed; luckily, our member did. She turned to Samantha. In our members weakened state, she could have potentially taken a turn for the worse without her multiple blood pressure medications. Samantha, in helping this member remove the barrier for care in this instance; truly aided her overall progress and helped to achieve the goals of her coordinated health care plan. There is nothing more rewarding to Samantha and to CareFirst than a winning outcome like this, one that ultimately helps reduce cost and increases quality of care.
Samantha Cook – CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
Family Reunion in Hawaii
“I gave her all the details, she was so excited and happy, and she cried and screamed.”
I have been with LoyaltyOne for 19 years and I have made some incredible memories with our collectors. Being in the customer service world, we have so many different personalities to deal with and we need to adapt to them. We need to be listeners, advisors, and most off all we need to be compassionate. The key to my success is to be very patient, to listen attentively, and to make the customer feel like you care about them.
One incident that really stands out to me was last February. I was working on a very busy Saturday, counting down the hours to the weekend. I took a call and was greeted by a very upset young mother; I could barely understand her because she was crying. I quickly took control of the call and asked her to calm down, and I would try my best to help her. She immediately calmed down and began to tell me her sad story. She was travelling from Grand Prairie to Hawaii with her husband and 2 small children, meeting with her parents and siblings for a family reunion in Hawaii. She drove from Grand Prairie to Calgary and her flight was from Calgary to Hawaii. The issue was the name on her ticket did not match her passport. Her passport was in her maiden name and the ticket was in her married name. This caused a huge ordeal. The airline would not allow her to check in. In order to make a name correction they needed proof of her marriage certificate but she now was in Calgary, 5 hours away from her home. I felt terrible and sad for her and her family, as I too have a young family and I could only imagine the disappointment and stress she felt at that moment. The collector felt so guilty and thoughtless for making such a terrible mistake. I reassured her that we all make mistakes and I would do my best to help find a solution. I put her on hold feeling a bit helpless because really there wasn’t anything I could have done without getting documentation from her, which was virtually impossible. I reviewed the ticket she was travelling on and suddenly I realized her flight was connecting via Vancouver and it was delayed more than 2 hours. My heart was pounding because this meant she could cancel her flight and get a full refund! My plan was to find her new flight options. I quickly checked for availability and found her new flights going out the next day and to her luck, we now had a special on the flights, which reduced the number of miles and taxes that she had originally paid. I gave her all the details, she was so excited and happy, and she cried and screamed. I think that everyone at the Calgary airport could hear her! I was so happy and emotional that I even shed a few tears! I felt so happy that I was able to help her with this difficult situation and get her to her family reunion. She was grateful, thankful and appreciative that I took the time and effort to find a solution to her problem. She was so impressed with my service and that she would never forget this positive experience she had dealing with Air Miles and me. I made her laugh by saying you have a great story to tell your family. How ironic that I am now sharing her story with all of you.
Enza Pitruzzella – LoyaltyOne
The Last Christmas With His Father
“Creating a positive memorable customer experience resulting in a fundamental difference in the life of the customer”
The customer called to change a flight booking he made online with Air Canada in October for a Christmas family re-union in Kelowna.
His father suddenly took ill and was given just a few days to live a week before his scheduled departure date. It had been a couple of years since he had seen his father and five siblings. Realizing heartbreakingly, that this would the last Christmas with his father, he felt it was imperative to leave as quickly as possible to spend whatever time he could with his whole family, and was willing to make the changes required at any cost.
As I was listening to the customer speaking, memories of my mum’s death flooded my mind. My youngest brother could not get a flight out of the UK during Christmas to attend mum’s funeral. Until today, this is still his biggest regret, and it took him a very long time to get closure. I felt his anticipatory grief leading to the ultimate loss of his father. At this point, I knew it was absolutely essential to fulfil his request as the impact and regrets would last forever if he was unable to see and be with his father one last time.
While accessing the details of his ticket, my immediate response was to empathize and reassure him that we would find a solution. At first glance, I knew the situation was far more challenging than I thought, given that he was from Edmonton where inclement weather was an issue. Additionally, it was the busiest time of the year with limited flight availability. After several attempts to book a flight with no success, I realized an immediate resolution was impossible. I offered to call him back in 2-3 hours, as I did not have the heart to add any more bad news to his already trying day. I confirmed preferred dates for travel, timing, flexibility, stop overs and routing. Taking ownership, I reassured him once again that I would do my utmost to get him a flight. Feeling desolate and defeated, he allowed me to use my discretion to do whatever was necessary to get to Kelowna.
Empowered and determined to find a flight for him, I mapped out all the possible routes, called Air Canada several times and even went as far as searching for a new ticket with another airline. All these attempts failed, yet I was unwilling to give up. Using all my experience, knowledge and tools, I got creative with the routing. It would require him to change airplanes in Calgary and Vancouver to get to Kelowna in time. After confirming flight times and requirements, I was elated that I had a resolution. Keeping my promise to him, I called him back and shared the wonderful news. He was overwhelmed and full of gratitude.
After the call, he left a message and said, “Nazreen was simply outstanding. She was compassionate, kind and absolutely provided remarkable customer service. Thank you.”
Assisting him made me realize that all calls allow us to make personal emotional connections, and sometimes, the ability to do something so profound it stays forever. This journey was a defining moment in his life and being part of it with LoyaltyOne was a privilege and honor.
Nazreen Abdulla – LoyaltyOne
The Little Girl Only Agreed to Wear Pink
“The customer was thrilled and I held on the line, waiting to see if this little girl (less than an 8th of my age) would accept my offer”
I had been at Marchon eyewear for just a month when my most memorable customer service experience occurred. I received a call from an eye doctor's office stating they had a young patient and her mother in their waiting room. The account let me know that the patient was very young with a high prescription and was wearing glasses for the first time. She was also VERY active. So active in fact that she had broken and replaced two pairs of glasses in the short time since she had started wearing them. The customer seemed frustrated and reiterated that every time the little girl left her office the glasses were fitted perfectly to her face, yet she and her mom would be back days later with the broken pair that had fallen off the child’s face.
The patient's mother was very concerned about cost and was aware that the warranty policy, while generous, did not cover patient abuse. The customer was not sure if she could repair the frame and was simply calling to inquire about the cost of a temple as the child had yet again dropped her frame twisting it and breaking a temple. She was not sure if a new temple would fix the problem but the mother had a very limited budget to work with, so she was going to try. I recalled my training and remembered that we had a special adapter that could be attached to the temples of the frame. They would loop around the ear and secure the frame to prevent future accidents.
During our conversation the customer let me know how difficult it was to find glasses for the patient in the first place as the little girl only agreed to wear pink! I asked the customer not to worry about cost for the moment but to ask the patient's mother what she thought of the cable adapter idea. The customer certainly was enthusiastic about my suggestion and asked me to hold while she checked with the mom, mentioning it was the little girl she was more worried about convincing! That's when I let her know the adapters were available in pink!!!! The customer was thrilled and I held on the line, waiting to see if this little girl (less than an 8th of my age) would accept my offer. When she back to the line very grateful for my suggestion, she informed me that when they were financially ready to order the frame, the mom would order with the pink cable adapters installed and inquired about the cost of them. I knew I couldn't let them leave that office without a new frame that would stay on the patient’s face once and for all. After all, our motto at Marchon is "We Help People See" and not "if you break it you buy it". I ordered the frame for the patient at no charge, applied a value added service to ensure the frame was equipped with pink cable adapters and shipped it overnight at no charge postage. Neither the customer nor the patient had to incur any cost. The reaction from both the customer and the patient’s mother was incredibly overwhelming! We were all over the moon and shared the satisfaction of knowing this little girl would be seeing like the rest of by the next day. I could hear the reactions of everyone over the phone and felt the mood totally change in to one of celebration!
This simple gesture that took me nothing more than some compassion and a few keystrokes on a key board had a positive impact on everyone involved in the discussion. I was grateful and proud to work for a company that believed in the power of "yes". The customer was astonished by our service and the patient's mother was grateful that her daughter would be in her glasses by the next day and they would stay on moving forward! As per the little girl, sure she would have the gift of sight, but she was more excited about the new pink cable adapters!
Tyler Fitzsimons – Marchon Eyewear Inc.
Proactive Problem Solving with the Customer’s Experience in Mind
“Before the customer could even mention what had happened, Anderson had already reviewed the account, offered a proactive apology, and began taking action to resolve.”
Anderson has been an inbound sales agent at Millennium1 Solutions for almost a year and, remarkably, during that time, he has never received a survey which has been scored less than Very Satisfied. He consistently offers a welcoming call experience that delights the customer and makes them feel like a valuable addition to our family of Cardholders. Making this feat even more impressive, is that Anderson is also able to consistently exceed his sales targets while doing so.
Anderson’s skills were on display last December when he received a call from a Cardholder who had recently upgraded her credit card. When the Cardholder upgraded, there was a system glitch and the card was not mailed out as it should have been. Concerned that the card hadn’t been received yet, the Cardholder called us back and Anderson had to deliver the bad news about the glitch. The customer was upset that she would have to wait additional time before she could start taking advantage of the benefits featured on their new upgraded card. Anderson handled the interaction well and did everything he could to expedite having the card reissued and mailed with priority.
When the customer finally received her card, she called again to activate it and surprisingly was connected with Anderson again. Before the customer could even mention what had happened, Anderson had already reviewed the account, offered a proactive apology, and began taking action. He indicated that he remembered speaking with her not long ago. He then went on to explain in more detail the issue that occurred on the account, and while he was doing so, assessed the impact to the customer in terms of how many bonus points they were unable to earn based on their typical spending habits. Anderson offered to compensate the customer with points and the Cardholder was ecstatic. The customer truly felt understood and immediately saw the value in being considered an Elite Cardholder.
After thoroughly resolving the issue to the Cardholder’s satisfaction, Anderson reviewed with her the offers available on the account. This customer qualified for a credit limit increase and given that she was now eligible for additional benefits on the card (which encouraged her to spend more), Anderson thought this was the perfect time to share this offer with her. She accepted, and remains a happy Cardholder today.
Even though the customer had every right to be upset at the beginning of the second call given the inconvenience and repeat call, Anderson resolved the situation before she could even bring it up. Anderson skillfully put himself in the customer’s shoes and did what he felt was right for them – as he does on all of his calls. We’d like to thank Anderson for his thoughtful and professional approach and congratulate him on being World Class Certified based on the positive call experiences he consistently delivers. He’s a prime example of how a sales call can also be a fantastic, customer-centric experience.
Anderson Henry – Millennium1 Solutions
Sharing a Bit of Your Own Personality Really Makes a Difference
“Injecting a bit of personality into each call helps my callers know they’re talking to the real me and not a machine.”
Every day you hear about great customer service stories, but do they all stand out as true differentiators or stories that raise the bar? Let me share with you a bit about our CSR Awaldi Stuart who does just that! As a top ranked CSR in our Contact Centre (#4), Awaldi demonstrates that he has the Cardholder’s best interests at heart by consistently looking for ways in which he can make the everyday just a little better for his callers. He uses our internal “freedom within a framework” approach to offer solutions and advice that is not cookie cutter in nature, but rather is tailored to what makes sense for the Cardholder. His can-do approach, attitude, and openness help Cardholders feel comfortable with him as does his natural way of matching his style to that of the Cardholder.
Awaldi takes the time to learn about the Cardholder and provides the same advice that he would give to his own friends and family based on their unique situation. While it may be easier to follow a script, Awaldi looks at his interactions as a moment to help, educate and provide service with flexibility, creative options and at times, a chance to go above and beyond. During the football season, Awaldi used his passion for the game to build simple and personable connections, injecting the “human element” and showing his personality in a way that resonated well with his callers.
Awaldi understands that what may be a normal call for him with a routine problem or call reason may not be routine for the Cardholder. In fact, it may be the most important priority for his caller on the day that they contact us. Keeping this in mind, he uses his compassion and knowledge to appreciate what the Cardholder is feeling, uses empathy, and targets prompt resolution. His consistency and commitment allows him to deliver world class service that is aligned to prescribed procedures while also injecting a personal touch.
Awaldi’s upbeat personality draws both his peers and his callers to him. His warm approach and genuine tone helps him gain the trust and confidence needed to take care of each caller he interacts with. He displays a positive approach even when handling challenging conversations and feels the most rewarded when he is able to turn what could have been a negative situation into a win for all. One specific example of executional excellence involved a situation where a Cardholder’s card was stolen and she required her old card number to provide to the local authorities for investigation. In this situation, the caller was an elderly client who had been through a very stressful experience having had her purse stolen while she was in a parking lot. She was very distraught, worried and over-whelmed by the incident which had occurred weeks prior, but was still very real for the client. Early in the call, it was clear that she was somewhat traumatized by the incident and was quite emotional and placing blame on herself. Awaldi was quick to attend to her emotional state by reassuring her that things like this happen and how he could only imagine how difficult it must have been for her. He skillfully and naturally empathized with her, while also affording her the time she needed to share her experience. He ensured he slowed down his pace to match the tone of the conversation and to walk her through what the next steps would be. The Cardholder needed her old card number to provide to the police officers who were investigating the theft, but unfortunately that is not information that we are able to provide over the phone. Awaldi explained to her that he could not provide such sensitive information over the phone but that if she had access to a statement she could go online and get it from her account that way. The caller advised that her son typically assists her with online account matters and that he was away on a business trip. Awaldi stepped in - knowing that she was still very overwhelmed – and provided her with personalized assistance endeavoring to help her get online. His first step was to walk her through the process of getting online as she acknowledged that she never really uses the computer. In spite of her limited computer knowledge, Awaldi knew this would be the fastest way to help her obtain the info required. He said, “We will go slow and see if we can get you into your account” reassuring her that there was no rush. This helped calm the caller quite a bit and Awaldi ensured he waited patiently and provided direction one step at a time as she attempted to access her online account.
After numerous attempts, Awaldi realized that the Cardholder’s limited computer knowledge was proving difficult, so an alternate approach was needed. Given her son was out of town and unable to assist her on site, it was time for a Plan B. Awaldi let her know that she could have the police contact us directly as a formal process exists for partnering with law enforcement when necessary. Through this process, Awaldi knew that we would be able to provide all information they required, without adding any new frustration or steps for the Cardholder. The Cardholder was extremely happy that this could be taken off her plate without her direct involvement. She said she felt relieved that the police and our credit card client could work together on matters like this. She was clearly under a great deal of stress and the fact that someone could take care of this on her behalf was a large relief. She shared how she was alone as her spouse had passed away several years ago and commented on how stressful she finds it to manage finances as he had previously handled these matters. Awaldi spoke about his own ageing parents, further personalizing the call and discussing how wonderful it is that she has her son for support. He ended the call reassuring her that as her card was now cancelled, that it could no longer be used and that she would not be liable for any charges incurred by the thieves. He reiterated our security protocols and closed the call including “we are here to take care of the people who chose to trust us with their everyday credit card needs and finances. We value your business, especially in a world where we know consumers have a lot of choices in who they want to do business with.”
Awaldi attempts to ensure every customer, during every interaction, everyday walks away feeling that they matter to us by making simple and repeatable personalized connections. Whether a conversation about the weather, family trips, holidays and even football, Awaldi believes that sharing a bit of his own personality really makes a difference to the experiences he delivers. His ability to do this well – while also balancing efficiency and other operational performance metrics – makes him stand out as a World Class CSR at Millennium1 Solutions.
Awaldi Stuart – Millennium1 Solutions
Personalized Retention with Real Value-Add for the Caller
“I was proud to have been able to help the Cardholder while also saving an account in a way that was relevant and meaningful to the customer”
As a CSR handling credit card calls, from time to time I speak with a Cardholder who would like to cancel, allowing me to leverage my retention skills. There are many different reasons why a Cardholder may choose to cancel their account; ranging from “I'm just clearing out debt” or “I have too many cards”, to product-related reasons such the interest rate or suitability of card features. These reasons are relatively common in this industry, but sometimes more complex retention situations occur requiring specialized handling, for instance when the caller is clearly upset at the beginning of the interaction.
One such example presented itself while I was still in the early days of nesting for our highest tier of service – servicing our client’s most high-value customers. Early on I knew she would be a pleasure to speak with; a very nice lady. I quickly realized that something was off in the tone of her voice that led me to believe that she was upset or just plain down. She was looking to close her account, to which I responded with a goal to learn more with "I’m very sorry to hear that, is there any particular reason why you wish to close your account today?" Initially, she advised that she does not use her card anymore so she no longer needs it. While reviewing her account I noticed that she actually used her card quite often for a prolonged period of time, but then she just stopped abruptly. This peaked my curiosity from a retention perspective, prompting me to gently probe a bit more deeply. She eventually opened-up to me and acknowledged that her real reason for wanting to cancel her account was due to a recent job loss. She stated that she was no longer able to afford to use credit so she wanted to have her account closed to help her manage her finances and prevent her from being able to just pay the minimum payments.
During the conversation, I continued reviewing her account and noticed that she had previously enrolled in the card’s optional account balance insurance product. Since she had recently lost her job I knew this product could add a great deal of value for her and that it may also retain her business offering a win-win. I took a few moments to remind her that she had this valuable insurance coverage, which she knew she had but had forgotten about its features. I reminded her of the product’s features and explained in a gentle fashion how I thought it might help her in her current situation. The explanation of the features quickly made the Cardholder considerably more cheerful and relieved. I provided her with the details and contact information she would need to initiate a claim and wished her all the best. After chatting briefly about hoping things start looking up for her very soon, she then advised me that she couldn't be happier with our services and was glad that I had told her about this feature. She couldn't believe that she nearly cancelled when she actually already had a product that could truly assist her current situation and relieve financial stress. This call made me feel terrific. It was a great experience for both of us as she was able to relieve some stress given her recent financial struggles and I was able to retain the business for our client while also testing my own knowledge of this valuable product feature. I was proud to have been able to help the Cardholder while also saving an account in a way that was relevant and meaningful to the customer.
Kaylyn Beckwith – Millennium1 Solutions
Empathizing and Thinking Outside the Box
“Our client was thrilled that I was able to save a longtime Cardholder and that I even cross-sold the retail channel and their cell phone provider services to her – all in an empathetic, caring, and helpful way”
As a Level 4 agent on one of our credit card programs, on a daily basis I deal with a wide variety of Cardholder matters; everything from declined cards to issues with accessing the online website for self-service.
Since I joined the Millennium1 Solutions family, I have often had the opportunity to sit side-by-side with our client stakeholders so they can listen to my calls. On one specific occasion, one of our clients spent the majority of a day listening to my calls. Most of them were what I would categorize as standard calls such as balance inquiries, assistance accessing our online website and many other general inquiries. The last call of my shift, however, was quite different.
The last call I had that day was unfortunately a very upset Cardholder. She was a long time Cardholder and was expecting a transaction to appear on her account that was for her sons’ post-secondary tuition. It was apparently a rather last minute payment, and it was critical that it be processed successfully or her son risked losing his seat in the post-secondary institute he had planned on attending. She further explained how hard he worked for his seat and that due to his dedication and hard work, she wanted to make sure that the payment successfully went through.
The complexity in this situation was her available credit as unfortunately, she did not have the available credit needed on her account to cover the tuition payment. She was so upset that she was fully prepared to close her account and explore her options with other credit card companies. This situation meant a lot to me as I was going through enrolment of my own eldest daughter in her post-secondary studies at that time. I wanted to do everything humanly possible to assist her and I was targeting a win-win with her son successfully enrolled in school, and her business retained for our client. Since I was currently going through the post-secondary enrolment situation myself, it was easy for me to understand her feelings and empathize naturally. This seemed to make her feel better about the situation and kept her calm while I looked into her account and explored options. I needed to investigate more deeply, so I placed her on a brief hold while I looked over her account to see what options were available. As I was reviewing her account, I noticed that the transaction had already been posted and declined as she did not have sufficient available credit on her account. It was very unfortunate as she was only a few hundred dollars short of the amount she required for the tuition payment.
I really wanted to be able to help her and to avoid the need for her to go elsewhere to obtain the credit she needed in order to have the transaction processed successfully. After looking further into the account, I found a credit limit increase offer that she qualified for. I returned to the Cardholder and I explained to her that I could increase her credit limit for her immediately and that it would not require a credit check. She was thrilled with the news because not only was it enough to cover the cost of tuition, but it would also cover the costs of books and additional items he would need.
This call was emotionally charged as during our interaction, the Cardholder also shared with me that her husband had recently passed away and along with battling grief; she was also battling breast cancer at the same time. This was one extra stressor that she really didn’t need. I was so happy to be able to assist in this small way given all the was going through. She informed me that now all of her business would go to our client’s credit card and she will be spreading nothing but positive comments regarding our customer service.
As I was processing the credit limit increase, the Cardholder made a comment about how she wished her cell phone provider was as reliable and helpful as we are. I immediately thought about our other channels and referred her to our client’s nearest retail store so that she could explore our cell phone provider services. She had absolutely no idea that our client offered those services and she expressed how happy she was that I took the extra time to provide her with the suggestion. She was ecstatic! She even took the time to say she knew that the call was likely being recorded and that she hoped that my supervisor listens and gives me a raise - to which we both laughed and then ended the call with a smile.
As I had the pleasure of having one of our client contacts sitting with me during this call, I had the added benefit of receiving real-time feedback. Our client was thrilled that I was able to save a longtime Cardholder and that I even cross-sold the retail channel and their cell phone provider services to her – all in an empathetic, caring, and helpful way.
This call has always stuck with me. In addition to my Agent role, I also serve as an Agent Trainer assisting our newest team members excel. I have recently used this call as an example in the classroom. I encourage them to smile on the phone. It's a simple tactic that truly works. Not only does it provide happiness to the Cardholder but it will also provide you the same happiness. You should always take the extra time to treat the Cardholder with the same respect you would want from others. Take the time to put yourself in their shoes, it will benefit you and your ability to provide exceptional customer service in the end. Taking the time to listen to a Cardholder’s story will always be beneficial – especially when we know they are upset and frustrated - taking take the time to find out why and connect on a human level really matters.
Trina Hardiman – Millennium1 Solutions
Thank you for calling Nationstar, this is Joe!
“It is a combination of his genuine personality and strong work ethic that makes Joseph such a successful agent; he is the level of excellence that we all try to achieve”
A simple greeting over the telephone can set the stage for any customer service call. It is all about the tone and attitude you project towards the person on the other end with just your voice. Johnson City ACT agents know this all too well since we are located in the heart of the south in Johnson City, Tennessee. Each customer interaction is handled with the utmost kindness and understanding regardless of the situation. Joseph Jablanofsky is a perfect example of our personalized service in Johnson City and proceeds to be advocate for the customers he speaks with every day.
Joseph Jablanofsky is best known for his unique opening greeting. Much like our customer service, it’s genuine and very memorable. The majority of his customers knowingly remember his name at the end of their calls. He always reminds the group that we are here to do right by our customers and make sure that we are keeping our promises. On several occasions, Joseph has volunteered to keep up with customer’s accounts that may need a follow up or just a correction made at a certain time. The customers that he comes in contact with appreciate his diligence which is shown in his record breaking World Class Call percentage.
Joe holds the amazing record of most consecutive World Class Calls in Nationstar history. He began in March 2015 and through February 2016 gathered a total of 43 straight World Class Calls. This is proof that the service Joseph lives by has successfully touched the lives of many customers.
Here is a short story that best encapsulates Joe’s best of class service:
A customer from Houston, Texas was interested in paying her loan sooner by making extra payments towards principal, but was confused on the process and logistics of how to get this done automatically each month. She had reached Joe in Customer Service. The customer was in a situation that was very new to her and needed guidance on how to reach her goal. Joseph had no hesitation and went straight to work. Joe’s tone and clear instructions set the customer at ease. He ordered her a coupon book and patiently answered all questions she could think of. The call had to be transferred to the Bankruptcy Department for additional assistance, but the customer left us her feedback from her experience with Joe:
“I was very satisfied with the first call of which was Joe. I was very satisfied with this gentleman. He really gave me the answers that I needed. He was prompt in answering them. He didn't ponder to find the answers. Joe was overall, excellent. I don't know how other else I could rate him. He was really awesome. He told me what I needed to know. He answered, of course, I mean, he was very patient, never sighed or acted as if he needed to get off of the phone. I don't think I've called Nationstar and had any employee that were up on the game and gave me the answers that I needed like Joe did. Most of all, he was most courteous. Okay. Hope you guys have a great day and the gentleman that helped me and I hope you all continue to give good service like you did. Thank you.”
It is a combination of his genuine personality and strong work ethic that makes Joseph such a successful agent; he is the level of excellence that we all try to achieve and that is why we are nominating Joseph Jablanofsky from ACT in Good Ole East Tennessee. According to our Customers, Joseph is the #1 servicing agent in all of Nationstar’s SQM history and it would mean a lot to Joseph and the Johnson City team to have a teammate take home Top CSR SQM Award!
Joseph Jablanofsky – Nationstar Mortgage
I Do It With My Heart
“I did not leave her alone on the phone because I felt the need to treat her like my own grandmother, and she was counting on me”
How do I even begin to explain world class customer service? I can say a lot of words about world class customer service. I can use a bunch of adjectives to explain what it really means, but with so many organizations focused on the same thing, I began asking myself “What really is world class customer service?”. All I know is, I come in to the office every day, set up my tools, have a few laughs with my friends at work, log in, and start answering calls. Every one of us does this job every day, but how am I different from the rest?
In our industry, we throw around phrases like “customer intimacy” and "customer-centricity". We use words like “delight” and “exceed”, but are those enough to be able to see if I have provided world class customer service? Imagine you’re an employee being asked to deliver a “world-class customer experience”. Where would you start? What would you do? Would you try to “delight”? Get “intimate”? Solve their problem? How do you do that? What I know is, when I log in to the phones each morning and start answering calls, I do it with my heart.
When I first started taking calls I had many challenges. My product knowledge was poor, I wasn’t comfortable using the tools I needed to do the job, but one thing I always had from the beginning was that I knew how to talk to people, and I put my heart into each call I took. I cannot remember all the calls I received since I started working in the industry, but among all the thousands and thousands of calls I took in my entire life in this industry, there was one call that stands out. To this day, it is something that remains in my mind and in my heart.
It was a Saturday night shift when all my friends were out partying, but I’m in the office working when my phone beeped. I delivered my opening spiel, and I heard a hysterical, crying voice of a helpless old woman on the other end. She said she received a threatening letter from Nationstar telling her that we will foreclose, and her property will be taken away from her. I had a lot of things swimming in my head to tell her, but I held up and let her vent.
She was crying all along and was having difficulty breathing, which I would probably also feel if I was in her shoes. She was in a desperate situation, all alone, thinking that nobody can help her out. After an emotional outpour that lasted several minutes, she paused, probably to catch her breath, and there was a moment of silence. I could still hear her sobbing.
I opened my mouth and gently uttered, “I am here to help you, but before we get started, I need you do to me a little favor, is that okay with you?” She said “Yes, what is it?” I politely said, “Can you please get yourself a glass of water first and drink before we start resolving your issue?” She said, “Okay, give me a minute” in a trembling voice.
From that moment on, I knew that I got her to trust me, and that I could help her with her ordeal. We discussed her situation. I did what I had to do. I had to talk to another department to get her a payment plan and we eventually resolved her issue. I did not leave her alone on the phone because I felt the need to treat her like my own grandmother, and she was counting on me. I didn’t want to let her down. She was relieved and very thankful. She even complimented me for what I did for her, which I appreciated, even if my manager did not hear it, but the part where I was deeply touched was when she said, “Thank you for your help. You are an angel.”
To this day, I always strive to get the same kind of reaction from my customers when they need me. The recognition from my manager/company is appreciated, but the feeling I get in my heart when I help someone is the most valuable reward to me. It feels good to truly help someone that needs it.
Russel Valendo – Nationstar Mortgage
Preparing For An Urgent Transplant
“This was no longer just a conversation between an insurance representative and a customer – it was one person listening and helping another person”
On a typical day in our call center, a Customer Service Representative will handle dozens of calls. Most of them are routine – questions about chiropractic visits, Health Savings Accounts, and dental cleanings. But, every once in a while, we have the chance to make a real difference in someone’s life. In those moments, Heather finds a way to connect at a deeper level and deliver world class service that far exceeds the customer’s expectations.
On a Tuesday morning in late October, Heather found herself on a phone call that would tug at her heart strings and test her customer service skills. The woman on the other end of the line sounded concerned and anxious. She told Heather that her husband was diagnosed with chronic liver disease, and they were preparing for an urgent transplant. It was clear to Heather that this phone call would be anything but routine.
Heather is an expert at understanding her callers and adjusting her tone to match theirs. On this call, she quickly shifted gears. Her voice, usually upbeat and cheerful, now sounded softer and especially empathetic. This was no longer just a conversation between an insurance representative and a customer – it was one person listening and helping another person. As the story unfolded, Heather learned that the woman and her husband had traveled from Alaska all the way to Florida for the transplant. They were staying with relatives and working with the local hospital. Her husband was put at the top of the list as they waited for a new liver. The doctor had said they needed to move quickly so they could be ready for the operation. Heather promised to explain the health plan coverage and also do whatever else she could.
The woman was confident that they had found a great medical team for her husband. But she didn’t know if the hospital was in her health plan’s network, and she was worried about how much this transplant would cost. Heather started by reviewing the family’s account, and she determined that they had already met their out-of-pocket maximum for the year. This meant that, if the healthcare providers were in the network, the health plan would pay the entire cost of the transplant and all related services – and the family would owe nothing. The woman was now holding back tears as she said to Heather “Oh my gosh, thank you! I want to cry.” Heather offered to call the hospital in Florida to confirm their network status. She then called the woman right back to tell her that the hospital was in the network. The health plan coverage was confirmed. The woman could now focus on spending time with her ailing husband and taking care of him.
In the midst of uncertainty, Heather gave this woman some clarity and peace of mind. But it was more than just facts and numbers. Heather connected with her at a personal level and showed that she really cared. She demonstrated true compassion for another human being, and she helped to lift them up. The woman’s anxious tone vanished. There was now a smile in her voice, and even occasional laughter. Heather decided to offer one more thing to resolve the call and help the family. She arranged for one of our Case Manager Nurses to stay in touch and work with them through this difficult time. As the conversation was ending, the woman took a moment to express her gratitude. “Thank you Heather”, she said. “You made my day, and it hasn’t been like that in a long time. So I thank you very much.”
Heather Sundheim – Premera Blue Cross
How to Be a Hero for Our Members
“Brooke tapped her resources and experience to devise some options”
When Brooke Jobe received a call from a Medicare Advantage member, at first it seemed like a simple inquiry about obtaining a prescription. But when he mentioned that in an effort to save money he had a gap in health insurance coverage and was out of insulin, Brooke realized the situation could be far more serious. Concerned about the member’s health, Brooke gently began asking probing questions to try to get more details about his condition and conducted a welfare check of sorts right over the phone. “Are you feeling OK today?” she queried. “How are your sugars?” Brooke wondered if the member had anyone there with him to help and learned his wife was away. At that point, she knew she had to do something to help the member.
Brooke tapped her resources and experience to devise some options and proposed them to the member.
The member chose a low-cost program through the insulin manufacturer. Brooke explained that the member would need to submit an application, which would take 24-48 hours to process upon receipt. She moved quickly through each potential solution because by this time she knew he needed insulin now. While investigating the options, Brooke discovered the member qualified for a voucher for one free dose of insulin. Because of her persistence, she was able to get the member an additional two doses of insulin for less than half the amount he had been struggling to afford, and it was available right away from his local pharmacy.
When asked why she is so committed to helping our members, Brooke explained, “I enjoy helping people, and in Medicare Advantage we have the opportunity to work with seniors. They are from a different era, and when you help them it’s like you’ve really, really helped them. They are so appreciative and sweet, and sometimes you could be the only one they’ve talked to all day or for a few days.”
Brooke’s actions show us exactly how to be a catalyst to transform health care – and how to be a hero for our members
Brooke Jobe – Regence BlueCross BlueShield
It’s Truly a Talent
“Being a Customer Service Representative is truly a talent of wearing many hats”
I have always believed that being a Customer Service Representative is a difficult job that not everyone is able to excel at. People that are not in the field often have preconceptions about our jobs. They often think that a CSR’s job is simple and don’t realize how challenging these positions could be.
Because we are on the front lines, we are often the ones who must manage all types of client emotions including any crisis situations. We must constantly fulfill our customers’ high expectations; deliver exceptional service, keeping our “cool” even when clients get aggressive; prioritize our company’s objectives while keeping a smile on our face in order to ensure world class service at all times. Being a Customer Service Representative is truly a talent of wearing many hats: Friend, Psychologist, Financial Advisor, Seller, Lawyer, Accountant, Life Coach, and Tax Specialist.
Even though my job is very demanding and stressful at times, I would not change my field as servicing customers is extremely rewarding. What I love about my job is the opportunity to bond with my clients. I get to assist them in their journey as my subsequent actions will determine how to best direct them in getting resolution resulting in an eventual unforgettable customer experience, which to me is a privilege. Our client requests are frequently very complicated, but at the end of the day they are relying on me to get them an answer or find a way to get it done.
I recall one event in particular when a client called regarding an over contribution to her Tax Free Savings Account. She received a letter from the government advising her that she went over her contribution limit by roughly $20,000 in which she was charged a 1% penalty of the over contribution amount for months. I could feel the client’s panic in her voice, and because she was a widowed senior, I could understand how lost and desperate she felt about dealing with this issue alone. Our client explained to me that her husband used to take care of her finances. What I reminded myself while speaking with her over the phone is that she could have been my grandmother and therefore I took this situation very seriously. The Client was not at all comfortable using technical devices such as computer or fax. I asked her to provide me with her financial advisor’s name so I may reach out to him or her. Once she provided me with this information, I called the branch representative and asked him to forward me by fax the client’s government letter so that I may open an investigation. A day later, the client visited the branch and I was able to start working on her case. After researching the client’s transaction history and statements, I found the problem! The Client did not do anything wrong, but in fact there was an error in reporting the transaction that brought her account to be over the specified limit. This had to do with a transfer request from one TFSA account to another that had been coded incorrectly as a contribution deposit. In fact, not only was the client fine and within her contribution limits for her Tax Free Savings Account but she was also entitled to get a refund for the penalties charged by the government. I called the client back shortly after our initial conversation and advised her of the situation. She felt very reassured and was thrilled to be informed that she will get a reimbursement for the fees she incurred considering that this was a reporting error.
This experience and in particular the client reaction after seeing full resolution of the issue is the kind of story that to me makes me feel like a Super Hero. Now when the client calls back, she always requests to speak with me. I feel trustworthy and connected with this client. I know she will always be thankful and grateful for what I have done. An experience like this is very rewarding and motivating which makes me feel special as a Customer Service Representative who could make all the difference in the world.
Mona Rghif – Scotia iTRADE
Victim to a Clerical Error
“The key to being a World Class customer service representative ultimately comes down to persistence and treating the customer’s concerns as though they are your very own”
My favorite aspect of customer service is the opportunity to apply my talents in an effort to make someone’s day. I can honestly say that nothing is sure to make my day like hearing from a customer that I have made their day. Every once in a while this opportunity comes about in the most unexpected of ways. We are all no doubt familiar with that dreaded call which begins with our client saying “I want to speak to a manager”. Already the stage is set. The outcome looks bleak and we find ourselves in a position which is likely to be challenging to say the least.
Picture a client who has fallen victim to a clerical error. They had previously spoken with three different representatives, who were either unable to identify the issue, asked our client to provide much unnecessary documentation, or failed to follow-up and contact the client, let alone rectify the problem. At this stage, the client’s trust in the organization is clearly broken, marred by misinformation and misgivings, but is hopefully not beyond repair; which is where I come in.
A good customer service representative is knowledgeable, empathetic, fastidious and knows when to listen. A great customer service representative will – in addition to these traits – ask the right questions; leave no stone unturned; and be an avid advocate for their client in their uncompromising pursuit of resolution.
Step one was to make a diligent effort to understand the nature and history of the situation. Once I had obtained all the pertinent facts, I asked our client to allow me some time to investigate the matter and assured her that I would contact her the following day. Due to her past experience, persuading her took much pleading. The next step was to identify a solution, which proved to be somewhat more difficult.
The situation as I saw it was simple. A mistake had been made, the result of which was that funds were erroneously withdrawn from an incorrect bank account (an account that our client shared with her father) instead of her own personal account. The fact that her father might miss his mortgage payment, which was due within just two days, made the matter somewhat more pressing. She had done her part and contacted us as soon as she was aware of the situation. Could we not just reverse the transaction? Apparently not. I have always believed that rules are to be followed; a belief I hold to this day. However, I do not believe that rules are not to be questioned.
The next step was to search through our procedure manuals to identify the obstacle and hopefully find a solution to our dilemma, which would inconvenience our client as little as possible. Having identified no obstacles and found the optimal solution, I raised the matter to senior management.
I am fortunate enough to work for an organization which will always put the client experience first, challenging all of us to do better every day. When I questioned the existing process and challenged our policy, I was pleased to see that senior management was highly receptive to my concerns. As it turns out, the error was the result of a gap in our process and an outdated policy.
Our department then went on to explain the articulate the situation to our operations team. Despite initial resistance, it became clear to them that the resolution was simple and that both our process and policy needed to be updated to address the current environment and avoid situations similar to this occurring in future. The best thing about situations like this is that they help us an organization improve our client focus and allow for our support departments to embrace this philosophy.
The very next morning I called our client to deliver the good news and inform her that the funds would be returned to the bank account that afternoon. I could clearly sense her relief upon learning that no further action was required from her or her father and she could not be happier as she said “Thank you so much… You’ve made my day”.
For me, the key to being a World Class customer service representative ultimately comes down to persistence and treating the customer’s concerns as though they are your very own!
Sammer Salama – Scotia iTRADE
Taking Ownership of the Problem
“The client had gone from frustrated and confused to relaxed and grateful”
“Hi there! This is Ruby speaking; may I please begin by confirming your policy number?” I often times repeat this opening question in excess of 70 times a day. When you initially answer any call, you never know what is awaiting you on the other end of the line. It is a complete mystery. This can pose an interesting challenge. Every call requires you to identify the caller’s request and efficiently find a uniquely tailored resolution that meets his or her individual needs. However, what remains invariable is that as a CCR you have the opportunity on each and every call to leave lasting impression with the client.
Who is Sun Life Financial? As CCR’s we are often times the first line of communication with our clients, therefore we hold a great deal of significance in terms of what our clients think about our company as a whole. I take this responsibility seriously and take this mindset into account with every interaction I have with our clients. Often times this means taking the extra time to really listen to what the client is saying, acknowledging his or her concerns, and thinking outside of the box so the client can disconnect the call entirely satisfied with his or her experience. In the story that I am about to tell, I was able to do just that.
I started as I always do. “Hi there! This is Ruby speaking; may I please begin by confirming your policy number?” The woman on the line replied by asking me to speak very slowly and loudly. I indicated that I could definitely do that for her, and repeated my name, and asked how I could be of assistance to her. The client explained she has Multiple Sclerosis and has difficulty speaking and difficulty hearing. At this point I recognized that this phone call was going to be different than most others that I handle. I started off by assuring the client that I would definitely be mindful of that and explaining I needed to verify her identity. On a standard phone call the entire process of introducing myself, collecting the client’s policy number and verifying the caller’s identity takes thirty seconds to one minute. Because of the pace I had to speak at to make sure I was being considerate of the caller’s request to speak slowly and annunciate each syllable, the entire process took about 15 minutes. I wanted this client to understand that I cared about accommodating what she had requested of me and I was going to do whatever I could to help her.
After authentication she continued to explain to me that her life insurance products provide her with peace of mind and that she is very confused and upset by a statement that she recently received for one of her policies. She was guaranteed by the advisor that as long as she continues to pay her premiums her policy will never expire. However, the statement that she received indicated that her policy will end in 29 years. She indicated that her grandmother lived to be 100 and she is not comfortable having a policy that will expire at any point. She was clearly extremely upset and confused by the communication that she had received. She had also mentioned that she did not wish to deal with her advisor and prefers that we not contact the advisor regarding her policy for personal reasons.
Just as the client was finishing explaining all of the details of her issue, the entire CCC experienced a CSW outage. We were being advised to ask all callers to call back either later in the day or the next business day. I knew immediately that I would not be satisfied with the experience I provided this client if I simply advised her to call back. She needed answers, she needed a solution and most of all she needed reassurance that everything was taken care of.
I proceeded to do my best to explain the workings of the policy to the client. I explained what the statement meant and how she could ensure the policy remained intact for the remainder of her life. Though she listened intently, I could sense by the tone of her voice she was still not completely satisfied. I then thought to ask the client, “What exactly can I provide for you, in order for you to feel at ease about this situation?” She paused and thought for a moment.
She asked that we write her a letter. The letter needed to be in large bold font and well-spaced to accommodate her disability. The letter needed to outline the parameters of the expiry of all of her policies, and completed as soon as possible. I assured her that we could absolutely do that for her. I then took ownership for this solution by advising her that I would personally make sure this was completed for her. I made note of her policy number, and planned to check on it the next business day to make sure that the information I had collected was received and acted upon by the appropriate department. At the end of the call when I had noted all the details of our conversation, all of her concerns and exactly how she wanted the concerns addressed, I asked the client if there was anything else I could do for her. The tone of her voice softened. She explained that she had never spoken to someone in a customer service role that was so committed to her complete satisfaction, and was so willing to adjust to her specific needs. She thanked me over and over again and told me that she would finally be able to sleep that night, after worrying about this for days on end.
Often times at the end of my day, I reflect and think what could I have done better, and what did I do well today? On this particular day I knew that the interaction I had with this client left a lasting impression. I had gone above and beyond to find her a unique solution, by being understanding, patient, and solution oriented. I took ownership of the problem and the solution that we had reached together by providing my personal assurance that the requested steps would be taken promptly. By the end of this interaction, the client had gone from frustrated and confused to relaxed and grateful. I pride myself on playing an integral role on the Sun Life Financial team, and working continuously to achieve complete client satisfaction.
Ruby Sahota – Sun Life Financial
Finding A Solution
“In well under ten minutes this member's experience had gone from being unpleasant to extremely satisfied.”
I took a call in late summer of 2015 from a member that I could immediately tell was extremely upset by the tone of her voice. I knew right away I would have to do everything I could to change this by the time I was finished with the call.
When I asked how I could help her she explained to me she had been trying to make an online claim submission for a few days now and that this was her third time calling for assistance in how to do so. I asked her which step she was having difficulties with and she told me that once she got to the last step of submitting the claim there was an error message that stated she must submit her claim by mail. The reason she was so upset by this point was because during her first two calls she was assured she would be able to use the member website for her claim and would not have to mail it to us. It was a rather expensive drug and she needed the money back as quickly as possible.
I told her I would help her resolve her problem and see why the error was happening. I confirmed online claim submission for drugs were in fact available for her plan. I requested the Drug Identification Number for the medication she wished to submit. I took down this number and started searching through Siebel to see if there was anything in particular to it that would prevent an online claim submission.
Once I had searched the drug in Siebel, the expense code came to INJ00 (injectable drug). I knew I had previously seen a note in our Knowledge Management tool (KM) about this expense code and was able to find exactly what I was looking for. The KM stated "INJ00 cannot be submitted online, and must be submitted by mail" which explained why she was getting the error message.
I informed the member of my findings and apologized for the fact she was told differently on previous calls. However, she was still upset that she had spent so much time that entire week trying to submit the claim because she thought she was the one doing something incorrectly to cause the error. I apologized again for the misinformation but I could tell she was dissatisfied. I knew I had to come up with another option and asked her to allow me some more time to see if there was something else I could offer to make her experience a better one.
I started searching and recalled seeing a post on the Customer Call Center Homepage under "Knowledge for you" about Digital Image Capturing that had started early July 2015. I located the past post and read the facts about it, and discovered that claims such as Injections that cannot be submitted on a computer, can be submitted taking a picture using the smart phone app. I went back to the member, asked if she had a smart phone, and if so what kind. She informed me that she has an Apple iPhone. This was perfect! The Digital Image Capturing was only available to iPhones at that time. I was so relieved that I now had the best option for her and she sounded excited too when I told her I found something to resolve her problem. I told her that if she did not already have our Sun Life mobile app that she would need to download it from the App Store. She had questions about the login information required and I assured her it was the same as the member website.
By the time I had finished explaining how to submit the claim, from which option to choose to how it will ask for a picture of her receipt, her tone and feelings towards the situation had completely changed. She told me she couldn't thank me enough for not only figuring out why she was getting errors but for finding a solution that made her claim submitting experience an even simpler and faster one.
In well under ten minutes this member's experience had gone from being unpleasant to extremely satisfied. I was not only proud of myself with how professionally I handled and helped this caller, but I knew that I was making a difference in the Group Benefits Call Center.
Stephanie Motovsky – Sun Life Financial
Just in Time
“She went above the call of duty”
A member, called to let VSP know that Carol helped save her eyesight. The member was very emotional during her call and shared, "I wanted to let you know the jewel you have in Carol and that her assistance saved my sight.
I have been seeing the same doctor for the last 10 years or so, and have been having trouble the last year and a half with cataracts. I called in to express my concerns after my most recent eye doctor appointment because I was still having trouble seeing with the glasses the doctor prescribed. I was fortunate that Carol took my call. She was genuinely vested in my situation and took the time to listen to my story. I wanted a second opinion and Carol offered for VSP to cover the additional examination.
The new doctor was fantastic and he was able to help me. He noticed the cataracts had already begun to attach into my retina, and had I waited any longer I would have needed a retinal specialist and could have potentially been left blind. I should have had the cataract surgery two years ago. Carol contacted the new doctor to make arrangements to cover my examination. She went above the call of duty by also covering new lenses and a frame after my cataract surgery. She made this whole process effortless and I am so very thankful she answered my call!"
Carol Elder – VSP Vision Care
2014 Top Twenty-Five CSR Finalists Great Customer Service Stories
Are You Alright?
“It never really occurs to us that through meaningful customer service interactions both parties can leave the call changed for the better.”
Working as a customer service representative we always assume we will be the ones helping the customers. It never really occurs to us that through meaningful customer service interactions both parties can leave the call changed for the better. I had one such experience with a customer who called in sounding very upset. After she went through the motions of verifying her identity, I decided to deviate from the standard follow-up and asked her if she was alright. She seemed taken aback by my question as if someone on the phone from a company should not be asking about her actual well-being. She gave a sharp intake of breath and explained her exceptional situation to me. Her mother had been recently diagnosed with a terminal illness, and her father was having trouble keeping afloat with the love of his life in mortal danger. She let me know she had been estranged from her parents for a few years now, and wanted to offer them an olive branch in the form of making a large lump sum payment to her father’s account, really just hoping she could find a way to get back into a better standing with her parents before it was too late and she lost her mother. Her story hit very close to home as I had recently lost my grandmother, whom I had not been too close to myself.
Her situation gave me pause, and I told her how to go about fulfilling the payment, and offered her some anecdotal advice. I let her know about my grandmother, how I’d slowly become estranged from her as well, and how her illness had been so sudden. I let her know some possible next steps to take based on my own experiences, how to help out with more than just money, and let her know no matter how estranged one got, going to see her mother and father, offering her support to them, being present was more than enough to get the lines of communication back up and running. She started to take deep breaths, trying to keep herself composed. She asked me if my grandmother had survived, and if we’d gotten closer. I told her my grandmother had passed, but before she did, I’d spent many evenings by her bedside, getting to know her very well. I told my customer no matter what sort of hardships she’d been through with her parents, it was different now, and if it was within her power to do so, she should go to her parents, and simply offer to be there. She lost her composure then and began to cry softly over the phone. I apologized, thinking I had said something wrong, or that I’d made the situation worse. She sniffled and said simply that I had given her hope.
All she had needed was some reassurance, someone to tell her to just do what she could, to listen and to share. I could feel my own eyes water but I kept it together. I wished her the best, and told her to keep strong. She thanked me profusely before hanging up. I paused writing my notes. She’d called for something so simple and even simpler words “are you alright” could act like a therapeutic session for a customer. I replayed the conversation in my mind and realized it was the first time I’d opened up about the last weeks of my grandmother’s life. I was glad those memories, painful or otherwise, had helped a customer, and a family.
Jordana White – 407 ETR
Fight for the Right
“We are an intricate part of a member’s survival plan”
As a Customer Service Advocate, you are privy to situations that are sensitive. You take on the role of the customer’s advocate and fight for the right of a patient that is often too sick to concern themselves with policies and procedures. Daniel is the consummate example of being a true advocate for our customers.
Last fall, Daniel received a call from Mr. and Mrs. Doe regarding their new policy. Understanding this was a new group policy, Daniel presumed they wanted to know general information about their policy. Little did Daniel know that the conversation that took place on that day would profoundly influence his commitment on enhancing the customer experience. The Does were a family like most other families, they were consumed with work, raising children and establishing a simple way of life. They were living a quiet existence until they were given the worst news any person could ever receive: “You have cancer.” This was the news given to Mrs. Doe, the matriarch of the family. This completely devastated the Does and shook their current way of life and future plans.
During her initial call on that fall day, Mrs. Doe had already begun her biweekly treatments. She had received several Explanations of Benefits from her previous insurance company when Mr. Doe’s employer abruptly changed insurance carriers. As anyone could imagine, unexpected change is uncomfortable, but unexpected change that directly affects the outcome of a life-threatening medical diagnosis can be downright frightening. Coverage, provider network and out-of-pocket expenses were questions that required thorough clarifications. Daniel could hear the unnerved tone in her voice. He knew that simply answering her questions would not be enough. She needed special care. Through gentle, leading questions, Daniel was able to identify her most pressing concerns and render the necessary support and patience needed to resolve her inquires. She presented several issues that needed immediate attention. She had mounting medical bills that were unclear and felt they were processed incorrectly. She had upcoming procedures that required pre-authorizations and because this was a new policy to her, she needed clarification on her duties as a patient. A person in her condition did not have the strength nor will to be concerned with what this would entail. She had one job, one obligation: to get better, for herself and her family.
Daniel made calls to her providers to untangle out-of-pocket disputes. He also made sure that services rendered to Mrs. Doe around the time her family transitioned to BlueCross were filed to the correct insurance company and made sure she understood her patient responsibility regarding those claims. Once one issue was resolved, he would contact her to give an update and then begin to work on her other concerns, ensuring that she was kept informed of each and every step of the process so she could concentrate on her health.
Approximately a month after their initial contact, she was so impressed with his service, she felt compelled to send an email of thanks. In her email she stated: “Without Daniel, I am not sure I would have made it through this process. Being a patient is very stressful, and I am very sick most days. It is hard some days to put my feet on the floor and get up at all. I feel like Daniel has become a trusted partner in my survival plan!” Her last statement really resonated with me about the role of Customer Service Advocates. We are often forgotten, but we can make a traumatic situation better. We are an intricate part of a member survival plan. What a monumental duty!
Our company highlighted Daniel and his story in a Customer Service Week video shown to employees throughout the company to educate them about what our Customer Service Advocates do.
Daniel Waterman – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina
A True Customer Advocate
“As an advocate, when we all work together as a team, we can get anything accomplished.”
There are times when you go above and beyond and there are times when you really go ABOVE and BEYOND. This is the case for Erika Worthy, a Customer Service Advocate who handled an escalated issue earlier this year. A member called because his coverage had not been reinstated. He had contacted his employer and was given a standard response that this issue was being “worked on”. However, when Erika received the escalated call, the member explained that he had an autistic son that needed medication right away. The member stated they could not afford the cost of the medication and that they did not know what to do. The member was frustrated with the situation and was looking for someone to help. Erika understood the urgency of the situation and jumped in as she normally does to resolve escalated issues. She started working on every possible solution to get the issue resolved. In between making phone calls to other areas, Erika called the member back just to let him know of the progress. She let the member know that no matter what it took, she would get it resolved. After several calls to various people, Erika was able to get coverage active, but the work did not stop for Erika. She called the member and conferenced the pharmacy to make sure they were able to run the prescription for the autistic son. Erika had resolved the issue and the member was thrilled. The member stated he had never had a customer service experience where someone did not want to “pass the buck”. Erika’s shift had ended an hour-and-a -half earlier, but she stayed late to on this issue. She was on a mission to get this resolved for the member and did not want to put the responsibility on to someone else. When Erika got home, she was still worried that the member did not get the prescription, so she texted a coworker to follow up with the pharmacy to ensure the prescription was picked up without any issue. When talking about this issue, Erika contributed her success to the team. “As an advocate, when we all work together as a team, we can get anything accomplished.” Erika said situations like this make her proud to be an advocate for the member.
Erika Worthy – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina
Building Trust to Obtain Resolution
“I helped establish trust with the member by being open and candid about what changes I had the capability of making.”
It’s a popular expression that you never have a second chance to make a first impression. Though this may be true, one particular experience I had with a caller would suggest that first impressions can be overcome. While I’ve received angry calls before, this caller was absolutely livid from the moment the call began. This member would soon be going onto Medicare and he wanted to make sure that his spouse did not lose her coverage. Normally, this is a fairly easy transition, but this family had purchased their BCBSVT plan through Vermont Health Connect (VHC), our state exchange. This adds an additional level of complexity as VHC is required to handle all enrollment and billing and removes BCBSVT’s control of resolving these types of issues. This member had been dealing with VHC on the issue for months. During this time no progress had been made in terminating his plan and activating his wife’s coverage. Instead he had been instructed to overpay his premium to keep a two person plan active while they worked out the changes.
He was frightened at the possibility that his policy would end and leave his wife stranded without coverage, agitated by the amount of money he was forced to overpay, and furious that his concerns weren’t being heard by the representatives from VHC. These well-founded emotions manifested in an irate aggression toward whoever was on the other end of the phone, and in this case, it happened to be me. There was very little that I could do to directly resolve his concern. However, it was clear that the member was going to need an advocate on his side to get this issue taken care of with the state’s exchange. I started by spending an extended amount of time working with the member, first acknowledging the myriad concerns that he had and empathizing with the anger that he was feeling before even considering moving to a solution. These kinds of cases are challenging, because while the member views my company as the insurance, there is a limited amount of control I have over the enrollment for the member. However, simply stating that this wasn’t something I could help with would not bring resolution to the member.
I helped establish trust with the member by being open and candid about what changes I had the capability of making and assured him that I would stay with him through every step with the state representatives. I performed a conference call with the member and VHC. I helped explain the situation with the member on the line and when the conversation would slip off track, or unclear answers were being provided to the member by the VHC representative, I helped to redirect and seek clarification to ensure the member’s concerns and issues were accurately resolved. Ultimately, there was little that could be done at the time of the call, but I advised the member that I would personally attend to his policy to ensure that his wife never lost coverage through the transition and would make certain that every part of the process that could be done through the insurance company would be completed. Once VHC got his wife’s enrollment to BCBSVT, I made sure that all balances and claims were transferred from the old policy to the new one without any lapses in coverage. I proactively called her primary care physician to provide them with her updated policy number and alerted them that they would see an adjustment to their claims. I also alerted the member of this to ensure they understood each part of the process and ensure they did not experience anymore unpleasant surprises. Throughout this process, I kept in steady contact with the member so he’d be alert to any possible changes.
During one such conversation, I had just finished explaining where the insurance was in the process of moving her wife’s coverage when he stated that he needed to speak with my supervisor. Gruff to the point of being inscrutable, I connected him to my supervisor with a fair degree of trepidation. What followed was an unexpected email from my supervisor passing on the message from the member’s conversation: He said that in his entire professional and personal life, he has never dealt with a more helpful, polite, efficient, and just an all-around good employee. He (the member) said Anden deserves some recognition and he was very impressed with this young man’s professionalism. He went on to say that if he was still in business he would steal Anden from me and hire him in a second. Considering the virulence of his anger from the original call, it was difficult for me to imagine him expressing such positive sentiments. Every change within the state’s system moves slowly and the change for this member was no different.
My first fiery call with him was on 09/16/2014 and as of the time of this writing, I’m still monitoring the account for possible errors, disenrollment or misapplied premium amounts. Every morning, I check to confirm that his wife’s account hasn’t been terminated by accident and every two weeks, I take five minutes out of my day to call the member to confirm that everything is going well even if the state’s system hasn’t changed. On my desk, I’ve pinned a small thank you letter he and his wife mailed to me on Christmas as a reminder that no matter how a call starts, how difficult the problem may be, you can make a difference and positively change the lives of others.
Anden Drolet – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
Swift Action to Obtain Urgent Resolution
“Cindy knew she had to fly into action to help this member and his daughter in their time of need.”
One morning Cindy received a call from a member who recently received an urgent call from his daughter’s college. The member’s daughter was severely depressed and the college suggested his daughter seek inpatient mental health treatment right away. With the father frantically driving from Vermont to Massachusetts he had little to no time to research inpatient facilities. By the tone of the member’s voice she could tell that the member was desperately seeking help as this was nothing he has ever experienced before. Cindy knew she had to fly into action to help this member and his daughter in their time of need. Cindy discussed with the member the benefits for inpatient mental health treatment, however it was very difficult for him to focus in his current state of mind and the member explained they wanted to just get to their daughter and then discuss benefits at a later time.
The next morning Cindy spoke with the member again and found a treatment facility, however this treatment facility was not in contract with the local Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan. Cindy knew the only option was for the member to submit a request for an out of network prior approval, which could take 48 hours. The member had called the facility, they had a bed available for her that day and the member was becoming concerned that she would not be able to be admitted today due to the approval process. Cindy took immediate action and ownership of the member’s concerns. Cindy was able to reassure the member that she cared about the situation and would work on this right away. She comforted the member and told him that she would get back in touch with him as soon as possible. Cindy took it upon herself to become the member’s voice and began to work across several departments to get the member’s out of network prior approval authorized. Leaving the member hanging was not an option for Cindy, and she was going to do her best to make sure that the member was able to get the treatment they needed. One of the benefits of being a small company is that Cindy could work closely with other departments. She explained the urgency of the situation and the prior authorization representative agreed to expedite the request. All the while keeping contact with the member so that he was aware of every step being taken.
The very next day Cindy was able to contact the member and inform him that his daughter’s authorization has been approved. She knew her experience with this member was not over, there would need to be a follow-up in a few weeks with members as services were being paid upfront by the member. A few weeks later Cindy contacted the member to check-in and the member was thrilled to hear Cindy’s gentle and calming voice. Cindy knew that once the member’s daughter completed treatment there would be a large claim that would need to be submitted and processed. Fast forward a few months and the member and Cindy have had many conversations. The member was happy to report their daughter was discharged and seeing a counselor on outpatient basis. The member now needed Cindy’s assistance in submitting a subscriber claim for their daughter as the inpatient claim was over $50,000. Cindy didn’t hesitate and initiated the next phase with the member. Cindy’s job was not to process claims, however she knew this was a huge financial burden on the member. What normally takes 30-45 days, Cindy accomplished in just few weeks. The claim was processed directly to the member. Cindy was committed to provide World Class Service to our members. Through proactively working across several departments, Cindy was able to expedite the out of network prior approval, and again a few months later expedite a large claim for the member relieving a large financial burden. This type of above and beyond service really sets Cindy apart as a World Class representative.
Cindy Tilotson – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
Determination, Team Work and Empathy
“I wanted to ensure the member did not need to make any more calls”
My call began like many routine calls with a member checking the status of a claim. I followed my usual process, checked on the claim and noticed it had not yet been processed. Based on some notes I was reviewing it looked like it was awaiting additional information before the claim could be finalized. I thought I would simply need to relay this information to the customer and the issue would be resolved and I would move on to the next customer. That is not what happened. She began to tell me her about situation involving the difficult ordeal she had to go through in order to be reimbursed for services she had. Normally claims are sent by providers’ offices and patients do not need to be involved with the claim process, but she had submitted her own claim and was intently waiting to be reimbursed.
The member explained that earlier in the year she had admitted herself into a substance abuse rehab facility, and through a cracking voice due to the tears she was trying to hold back she told me she had paid for the services up front by emptying her 401K fund. When she was finished with the treatment, she discovered the facility did not participate with insurance and she was stuck with the difficult task of trying to submit her own claim for the services that she says saved her life. She had tried calling her doctor who erroneously told her to call another Blue Cross plan out of state. She had been sent in multiple directions and put forth great effort and felt like she was getting nowhere. It had been over six months since she had been discharged and the issue was still unresolved. I could tell this member needed someone to take ownership of her case as she felt alone and overwhelmed. I assured the member she would be making her last call and I would resolve her dilemma personally. I coordinated with our Inter Plan Program (IPP) department and our member ombudsman to proactively obtain the information that was missing. We were able to push through the issues that arose and obtained all the necessary information to key a claim, but then a new problem emerged. The services she had received required a prior authorization which unfortunately had not been obtained before she was admitted. Additionally, she only had benefits with in-network providers, requiring additional authorization for the out of network provider. Normally we would just deny the service outright, but considering the situation, I reviewed this case with our Integrated Health Management (IHM) team to see if an exception could be made.
As a team we decided to proactively try and obtain the clinical information we needed to do a retro-review for the member. I made sure to inform the member where we were at in the process and went to work again. I wanted to ensure the member did not need to make any more calls, so I collaborated with the out of state Blue Cross plan and had them contact the provider to obtain the clinical information. We quickly obtained the information, but it wasn’t sufficient. Still determined to see this member through to the end, we kept working to get the information we needed. Over the course of about two months, I made weekly calls to the member to keep her updated as to the progress of her claim. Once the information finally arrived, our IHM team was able to establish medical necessity and authorize the services retro-actively. This allowed our IPP department to process the claim to the member’s benefits. I was finally able to make the last call to her advising of the final processing and the total amount of the check she would be receiving which paid for almost all of her expenses.
As a courtesy, I followed up with the member one week later to ensure she received her payment. The member was so relieved she had called our call center and only had to make one call in order for us to resolve her difficult ordeal. Through determination, team work and empathy, I was able to turn this out-of-the-ordinary call into another one of our everyday success stories.
Heather Young – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
Taking Ownership to Obtain Resolution
“I put myself in her shoes, followed it to the end and made sure this was resolved.”
I received an early morning call just after we opened at 7:00 AM; the caller was a frantic mom calling about her son. I could barely hear the mom’s soft and distant voice; it was really hard to identify the problem at hand because we had such a bad connection. This mom was calling from Thailand, she did inform me that there was poor phone service, and they are twelve hours ahead of us. I knew I had to talk fast so I didn’t use up all her time on the phone she was using, but be clear so we could get the issue resolved.
A speeding truck had hit her son and his friend in Thailand. The other boy did not survive and her son was in serious condition. Once the mom learned of the accident, she booked the next flight out to Thailand. She got there with little money, no one to help her navigate, and her U.S. cell phone would not work there. She had to buy a cell phone from that area and still there was little service. This is about the time she called me at BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont. The mom poured her heart out to me, and I could feel her pain. I listened to her speak, I acknowledged her and asked validating questions back. She explained the whole situation, and stated that the hospital was demanding money from her because they were not getting an authorization or approval to move forward from blue card. She was being pressed against the wall; she had called our blue card worldwide call center a few times and was getting nowhere. Her concern was to be with her son, not chasing down an authorization. I wanted to make sure that she knew I was taking ownership of her situation to get a resolution.
While she was on the phone, I conferenced in the blue card worldwide call center to speak to a representative to find out what was going on, to see if they had been contacted and why an outreach to the out of country hospital had not been done yet. We did find out that the call center was waiting for an authorization from us. They received all other eligibility but needed an authorization from us to give to the hospital in Thailand. Since I was on a conference call with the mom and the blue card worldwide call center, I wanted to get an authorization during the call, but it was so early our IHM (Integrated Health Management) department was not open yet. The mom indicated the best way would be to communicate through email as the phone service was costly and unreliable.
As I worked with IHM in the early morning hours to put in place an authorization for the son, I kept the mom constantly up to date by communicating through email. I was also able to be in constant email with the supervisor of IHM as well. I was in contact with their dedicated BCBSVT case worker, making sure she also was communicating with the mom via email. We got the authorization in place, sent it to blue card worldwide, and then followed up with blue card worldwide’s call center to make sure they called the authorization over to the hospital in Thailand.
One of the mom’s touching emails back to me read, “Thank you so much, Candace. You have not lost your humanity, despite working in a huge and unwieldy system.” I cannot begin to imagine how she was feeling when jumping on a plane to see her son who was barely hanging in there, then the hospital demanding money from the family because they do not have an authorization from the insurance company, and then the mom having to make numerous calls. I was so thankful for my co-workers in case management and in IHM for their quick response and assistance with this case. I personally would not want to be in another country worrying whether my kid was going to live or die, and on top of that, wondering what was going on with my insurance. I put myself in her shoes, followed it to the end and made sure this was resolved.
Candace Pischetola – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
Follow-up to Gain a Member’s Trust
“Although Paula may have not had the member’s complete trust at the end of that first phone call, she gained his trust when she in fact did call him back as she promised.”
Diligence and tireless effort is all in a day’s work for this World Class CSR. Often times in Customer Service, it’s easy to forget that what you do makes a difference when you take call after call, day after day especially in an industry such as health insurance that is ever changing and highly stressful. As a Customer Service Representative for CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, Paula Miller makes a difference every day, but to one member she made all the difference in 2014. Paula received a call from a member who had received a collections notice stating he owed over $11, 000.00 for claims that were overpaid. The member felt he didn’t owe us this money because he had already paid the money to the provider for medical services rendered. Most of us would be quite anxious and worried to receive such a large bill and this member was no different.
Paula immediately started putting his mind at ease by reviewing the potential overpayments on his account and reassuring this member that she would get to the bottom of it. The amount of claims to review were extensive and Paula needed more time than was feasible on that first phone call. She explained the service steps she needed to take and committed to calling him back the next day. The member was hesitant to let her go, but Paula reassured him that she was going to fulfil her commitment to call him back. Although Paula may have not had the member’s complete trust at the end of that first phone call, she gained his trust when she in fact did call him back as she promised. The result of Paula’s research that first day landed her with a very complex issue involving Medicare and a large volume of claims which took many days to fully resolve.
Through Paula’s efforts and collaboration with our claims and accounts receivable departments, she was able to remove the $11,000.00 financial liability from this member. I can’t even describe all the calls and emails it took for Paula to resolve this, but there were no less than 20. And although the actual steps to resolve took significant time in Paula’s day, she never failed to give the member an update every two days. She truly gained his trust in her, but also gained his trust back with CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield. This member took the time to speak to Paula’s supervisor when the issue was resolved to let her know how much he appreciated Paula’s hard work and follow up. Even when she had no update to report, she still checked in with the member so he knew he was not forgotten. Paula never failed in providing these updates until this issue was completely resolved. This is typical of the service Paula provides daily and why she deserves to be World Class CSR of the Year.
Paula Miller – CareFirst
Own Every Call
“For a small moment in time he is their warrior.”
When we think about the characteristics that we would want all customer service advocates to possess, there are several traits that come to mind. Knowledge, compassion, empathy and leadership are just a few. Selflessness, willingness to advocate on behalf of others, and thinking outside the box to find a solution for a member, these are the other qualities. A customer service advocate should bring these traits to work every day. Eric Marks does just that. Eric provides a world-class level of service on each and every call by using these traits to ensure our members have their issues resolved on the first contact with our call center. Eric has been a customer service advocate for two years and has grown into one of our strongest silent leaders. He leads by example but often fades into the background. He does not seek recognition or accolades for providing world class service. However, Eric strives to take ownership over the issues he finds our members in. This isn’t just a one-time occurrence for Eric. He is always resolving issues for our members. Eric’s goal is to help whomever he comes in contact with.
For instance, one Friday night after 5:00 PM, Eric’s path crossed with one of our members who needed help with his medication. The member was new to our plan and was trying to get his prescription filled at the pharmacy before the weekend. The member was at the end of his rope when the phone rang at Eric’s desk. Eric immediately recognized that this member had a trying experience up until this point. Eric took ownership of the issue and worked with our internal drug support team to figure out why the prescription was being rejected. Once they figured out what was wrong, Eric reached out to the pharmacy and asked them to rerun the prescription. The fix put in place by drug support worked and the pharmacy had the medication ready for the member upon his arrival back to their store. Eric called the member and let him know his prescription was ready and even told the member how much it would cost. The member was grateful for this. He could not thank Eric enough. Eric found a way to get the much-needed medication for the member when the member truly felt as if all hope was lost. Why? Eric wanted to own the issue and make sure the member did not have any additional issues with this prescription. Eric wanted to take care of this matter on the first call. He did just that and helped solidify the member’s perception of how much his health insurance carrier cared for him as a person. This was due to Eric’s willingness to put his own needs aside on a Friday night and get the job done.
Over the course of his two-year tenure, Eric has only had two escalated phone calls. This is phenomenal. This is a true indication of his ability to own every call. He listens to the caller’s needs and even hears the needs when the member is not speaking them. Eric has an innate ability to understand what the member is trying to say. He is a calming force on the phone. He de-escalates any issue and works to find a solution to whatever the problem our members are facing. He takes on their problems and for a small moment in time he is their warrior as he finds a way to get their needs taken care of. By always putting our members first, handling their issues on the first contact, and providing superior customer service on every call, I believe Eric Marks is a wonderful representation of what a customer service advocate should be.
Eric Marks – BlueCross and BlueShield of South Carolina
What Does it Take to be a Real CSR?
“I chose to serve.”
One memorable call I had was five minutes right before the end of my shift and I was excited to finish the call as soon as possible. Instead, I got an angry and troubled voice. The customer was so furious he told me that if I could not assist him I should connect the call to a manager or someone else. Though I was tempted to pass the call off, I knew that he needed help and I needed to do something to help him. I decided to provide my empathy statements differently from the standard responses and not only did it lessen the aggravation, but it also gave me the opportunity to bring up his account information and learn that there was a four month negative credit reporting dispute.
As the customer’s emotions hindered him from explaining the situation thoroughly, I used effective probing questions to obtain more information. Bit by bit, the story unfolded making me realize that the situation was far more challenging than what I thought, but I encouraged myself not to give in and to focus on the goal of resolving the call. The customer’s mortgage servicing rights were recently transferred to Nationstar. He was very particular with all his payments so he had set up an automatic payment with a third party vendor to make sure all his payments were made on time. However, the customer was unaware of the transfer to Nationstar and his payments were sent to the prior mortgage servicer address instead of being sent to the new payment processing address. The customer had made multiple attempts to submit a credit dispute to our research team. However, the research team’s instruction was that the customer must contact the third party vendor and ask for a letter stating that it was the third party vendor’s error of sending the payment to the wrong payment processing address. He rebutted that he already made the request to them but failed to get such a letter.
Being fully aware of the situation, I realized that it was up to me to fix this and no one else. I told my customer that I would be the one to talk with the third party vendor to help him with the request. We attempted a 3-way call, but we got an uncooperative representative. I kindly asked the representative if there is a way he could contact someone to make a follow up on the request. The representative decided to connect us to another agent who agreed to email me the required document. I let the customer know that I felt even more confident now that the situation could be corrected. Before concluding the call, I contacted his prior mortgage servicer to get more details. This time, the customer thanked me for my patience and willingness to make another conference call though it was getting late in the evening.
After the last conference call, I learned that the prior mortgage servicer forwards any excess payment to the new mortgage servicer automatically but could take up to 30 days after the transfer. I filed a credit dispute, which I escalated to the research team with the attached supporting documents. I monitored the submitted research request daily, and contacted the customer as soon as I got a response.
A month passed when our CEO received a letter from this customer recognizing my efforts. I could have passed the call off that day. I could have gone home when I was scheduled to. I could have given him a canned response about contacting the third party vendor as he was instructed prior, but I chose not to. I chose to serve.
Jerry Dormido – Nationstar Mortgage
Strong Partnership with Support Team Ensured a Positive Result
“I wasn’t sure if our procedures would allow for anything to be done, but I wasn’t willing to give up just yet.”
I often handle call types where customers are concerned about interest or other charges on their credit cards. Recently, I handled a call with a credit card customer that from the opening had the potential to be challenging. This caller came in quite displeased and clearly had a very negative view of the credit card company. He started off by introducing himself as a professionally employed individual with knowledge of the finance sector. Reading between the lines and factoring in his tone, he was warning me that I better get this interaction right!
As I listened intently while he explained the situation, I learned of a $3.50 statement balance that went unpaid for two statement periods, which resulted in a delinquent status being automatically applied to his credit file. He kept repeating how he could not believe that such a small amount could negatively impact him and then he shared more details that helped explain his level of displeasure. He was in the process of applying for a mortgage so the timing could not have been less ideal.
To start, I explained how the small unpaid balance had ultimately been the root cause of the situation and educated him on options to avoid this issue in the future. He explained that the card is not used frequently, and that his wife used his card in error. He had not checked for statements or payments, as he did not realize it had been used. This client was not speaking of his credit card company in a very positive light and I knew that this interaction was our only opportunity to turn around his view. I told him I was not sure if our procedures would allow anything to be done, but that I was not willing to give up just yet. I wanted to see if there was anything creative we could do to change the impact that this small error was having on his credit score.
I understood why he was upset, so my empathy was certainly natural. I did not know at this point if I could earn back this client’s trust, but I wanted to try. While the customer was on hold, I escalated his concern to have his credit file reviewed. It did take a bit longer than initially anticipated, so I refreshed the hold a couple of times, and ensured he knew I was working on a solution. As a part of the escalated credit review process, I was able to remove the delinquency status from his credit bureau file, which immediately corrected his credit rating. I was finally able to deliver good news to the client and he became speechless. I simply reassured him that I meant what I said when I told him I understood and was not going to give up.
This tough situation was resolved in one call, which made me proud, but I could not have done it without the help of our support team. With the help of my Team Leader, we were able to immediately engage the proper channels and resolve with positive results – all while the client was on hold. This correction of the client’s credit file not only improved his view of his credit card company, but also allowed him to secure the best rate for his mortgage.
Patty Nauss – Millennium1 Solutions
A Path Towards Resolution
“What started out as a frustrated member going through a difficult experience was now a satisfied customer”
Getting a call from an upset member with a denied claim is never easy. It takes an abundance of focus displayed through listening skills and patience, as well as the ability to empathize with what the caller is going through and why they are feeling frustrated. Heather took such a call from the spouse of a member with a denied claim. Her husband had recently undergone a risky surgical procedure, and he needed follow-up care to help his recovery and achieve the best possible outcome. Unfortunately, the member’s healthcare providers had not submitted all of the documentation that was needed and so the claims had been denied.
As a result of this denial, our members were facing a very large medical bill from the hospital, not to mention the stress of worrying how they would be able to pay for these services. They called customer service to find out why their claims had been denied, and what could be done about it. The call was connected to Heather, and she immediately recognized by the tone of the member’s voice that they were very upset and frustrated with the claims denial. Heather immediately put her great soft-skills on display; she took the time to listen and acknowledge the member’s concerns, and after hearing what the member had to say, Heather offered to review the claims, find out why they denied, and then determine what steps, if any, can be taken to resolve the issue.
After reviewing the claims in question, Heather immediately spotted the root cause of the problem — the member’s claims had been denied because we were missing some specific information and, without it, we could not determine whether or not the services rendered were medically necessary. This basis for this decision had been made available to the provider, but they had not taken any actions yet to provide the missing information. So, Heather made an outreach call to clinical review to find out what exactly was missing, and then she relayed that information back to the member so that they could take a specific list to their provider and get them to send the missing records to us. This helped to put the member at ease, because she now saw a path towards resolution. Towards the end of the call, the member was very grateful for the assistance that she received. What started out as a frustrated member going through a difficult experience was now a satisfied customer that knew exactly what needed to be done to get her husband’s claims paid.
It came as no surprise when, on the very next day this member got surveyed by SQM, she told them about the great experience she had. Here’s what she had to say: “She was very helpful. She answered all my questions. She looked up everything and actually consulted with another department to make sure that she was giving me the correct information gave me a phone number to make sure this information got to the correct place it needed to be overall, she was very kind very informative and just very good at her job.
This is just one example of how Heather frequently goes above and beyond to help our customers. She doesn’t just answer the question for them; she explores the issue and looks at it from every angle to identify problems, anticipate needs, and make sure that all of the issues get resolved before the end of the call. For the year, Heather has received 36 surveys from SQM, and 32 of these were rated as “World Class Calls” (that’s an 89% WCC rate!). As a result of her outstanding performance in all of our key results areas as well as her demonstration of our core values, Heather was promoted to Sr. Customer Service Rep in September of this year, and in this new role, Heather will be mentoring our newer associates and teaching them the meaning behind words such as “World Class Service” and “First Call Resolution”, expectations Heather lives up to each and every day.
Heather Sundheim – Premera
A True Service Hero
“Ended up saving over $700 a month in premiums!”
Leslie has been nominated twice and has won one of our highest awards as a Service Hero in 2014. She is an outlier on her team as far as receiving member compliments. Members regularly ask to speak to her Supervisor directly or send emails, notes and cards.
One day Leslie received a call from a member. Our member was in the waiting room at Providence Hospital where she had a scheduled follow up appointment. She had learned that her provider would be considered out of network and was confused by what that meant and how it occurred. She was having a difficult time finding a provider that would see her due to her numerous medical issues. Our member was on both Medicare and Individual policies. The individual policy impacted the network and reimbursement options that she could utilize. The individual policy was over $700 per month in premiums and our member indicated she had previous visits at Providence Hospital that she was concerned we would not cover. Leslie promised the member that she would help her. Leslie moved ahead with contacting Providence to review the claims and discuss if a payment reduction or financial assistance was an option. The good news was that the 2014 claims on file were not from Providence and they were processed out of network in error. Noticing this, Leslie sent them to our claims division to make the adjustments needed. From there, she worked on setting up a case management referral. Leslie contacted sales and asked for a packet to be sent to our member and asked about options outside of open enrollment for plans. She then called our member back and explained that if she qualified for LIS (Low Income Subsidy) through Social Security she could move to a supplement or Med Advantage plan. Leslie continued on to let her know that the LIS and sales literature had been mailed to her for review. She then provided her with a sales contact number. Leslie continued to remain in touch with our member for the next 6 weeks as she was in and out of the hospital to ensure that she was receiving the required information and could support any questions she may have. Our member was effectively moved to a much lower cost plan due to Leslie’s help and as a result ended up saving over $700 a month in premiums!
Leslie Wassmuth – Regence BlueCross BlueShield
More Than Just a Customer Service Representative
“I truly feel that I am my member’s advocate and advisor.”
Many Medicare members have unique challenges. Most are over 65 years old and many have physical or emotional disabilities. I remember one particular member who called in crying and upset. She had recently lost her husband and she was dealing with major pain management issues. She was just one of many who are all alone and have no one else they can depend on to help them with their medical concerns or insurance issues. The member was so distraught that I asked if I could call 911 to have someone check on her, she refused, so I decided to call her hourly until I could find a counselor and pain management provider for her to see quickly.
I know that each member needs to be worked with in a manner comfortable to them. I pride myself on being able to quickly determine our callers’ needs, build rapport, and answer the questions they ask and more importantly, answer the questions they don’t know they need to ask. I do this by speaking to my members in a caring, clear, and understandable manner, and tailoring the experience to each member’s individual personality and style. I know that what I tell a member will help them make informed decisions that can directly affect their quality of life. I have a passion for helping our members understand their benefits and take great satisfaction in knowing they received the care they need. I truly feel that I am my member’s advocate and advisor. It has been very gratifying to have the members I spoke with help me become a World Class Certified Customer Service Specialist. But my role at Regence MedAdvantage is so much more than quoting benefits and explaining claims! As important as that is, I get a special sense of satisfaction in taking the member out of the middle by making calls for them and by getting them the information they need.
But, my role in the member’s issue doesn’t end at the conclusion of the call. Knowing that many of my members don’t have anyone to check up on them after surgery or to care about how their treatment or procedure went, I keep their information handy and I follow up with them a week or two down the line. When appropriate, I follow-up periodically throughout the year to make sure members with special needs feel that someone cares about them and is concerned about their well-being. I have followed this particular member for months with her ups and downs and helped her with claims and other appointments. It is always rewarding when I call the member and find her happy to hear from me and doing well. I know I was a part of helping her get to that point. This kind of personal attention is what makes this position so much more than just a job. I always remember that I don’t take a hundred calls a week or more. No, I speak with a hundred individuals with individual needs and make an effort on every call to positively affect their quality of life. And that’s why I look forward to coming to work each day and speaking with our Medicare members, and knowing that they have rated me as a World Class Certified Customer Service Specialist makes me proud and gives me a great sense of personal satisfaction.
Trisha Wells – Regence BlueCross BlueShield
“After all my years of business with your Bank, I am at my wits end!”
“After all my years of business with your Bank, I am at my wits end!” Those were the opening remarks of the customer wanting to throw in the towel! She had a good credit card payment history and banked with Scotia for many years. She had traveled overseas and left her personal assistant in charge of her financial obligations. Upon the client’s return, she received statements showing that her credit card was severely past-due and had incurred fees, something she had never experienced before. She subsequently visited the branch and was advised that the request for waiver of charges needed to be put in writing. She was quite upset and annoyed with the suggestion given and I suspect this is why she was referred by them to the contact center. By the time I got her, the customer was filled with a wave of emotions. She sounded extremely distressed and disappointed that after all the plans she left in place to ensure her bills were settled on time were not done. The bank she expected to “have her back” was asking her to put it writing. She wasn’t feeling valued like a Customer. It was almost as if she was told to take a number and wait. She was at the point of closing all accounts and settling the card balance. I personally felt hurt just listening to her tell me “she was at her wits end” for something that could have been easily resolved. Right away I knew I had the solution and I was able to help. I made a quick assessment of the account and being empowered to make discretionary decisions, was able to reverse the charges without a letter and restore her account. This action not only retained her business, but created a positive memorable experience and made a fundamental difference in the life of this customer. I also now realize that I may well have by extension, retained the business of her family and friends, and made her a loyal customer of the Bank. Hearing the customer say to me, “What you did for me today really changed how I viewed the Bank and its service standards. You really are making a difference,” left a feeling of intrinsic reward. I truly felt like I was her “new” personal assistant that made a difference and helped to “Save the Day”.
Danielle Angus – Scotiabank International (Jamaica)
I Love What I do
“It struck me that there was more at stake here for both client and firm.”
I love what I do! I truly love speaking to clients, understanding their needs and resolving their issues. It gives me a sense of accomplishment when they tell me that I made a difference in their lives; that they can feel that I genuinely care and that they are very happy that I took care of their needs.
During a call that I received, the client was already extremely upset and her request was to have her funds transferred into her retirement plan account. She indicated she had sent all her documents to us, but fell ill and which was why she did not get a chance to look into it. Now that she was on her feet again, she was shocked to find out that not only she did not receive her payment as requested; she was also taxed a large sum in the process. It was a complicated situation so I had to ensure that I was listening and asking questions to fully understand the situation. It was a lot of money, so I was extremely empathetic. Once I fully understood that it was not something I could resolve on the spot I advised her that I would take full ownership and that this was an urgent matter that I was going to resolve. I provided her my direct number and promised to call her on the same day with an update.
I immediately contacted our back office inquiring why she was taxed for unlocking her funds when she simply transferred the funds to an RRSP account. I also had to find our why the payment was not done as per her instructions on the initial application. I was told they will look into it, and that I should get an answer the next day. Keeping my promise to the client, I called her back and advised her of the status of her inquiry and reassured her that I was on it! The ensuing investigation determined a system error incorrectly withheld 30% in taxes. I was advised this would be reversed within 3-5 business days.
For the payment, unfortunately the answer was not in client’s favor. I was told that since the client did not follow up on the payment, it was not paid out. It struck me that there was more at stake here for both client and firm; more than just ensuring that we simply adhere to our service delivery model. The client was relying on the funds for her livelihood and this represented her only source of income. Knowing how important this was to the client I decided to escalate the matter further so that all relevant parties are involved. It was deemed that existing provisions allowed for us to fully accommodate client’s request. A payment was issued and sent to her bank account on the same day. Furthermore, the initial tax treatment was revisited and reversed.
I reached out to the client once again, and I shared the good news with her. I was able to resolve all of her issues promptly and that her maximum payment would be in her bank account the same day. By this time she was nearly in tears. She said that she is convinced that I am an individual who is not simply out there doing my job, but that there’s genuine care in my service; and that this was clearly evident on every level of my interaction with her. It is reactions like this that make me love what I do!
Melliza Beroy – Scotia iTRADE
Turning Around the Client Experience
“Nothing motivates me quite like turning someone’s negative experience into a positive one.”
The primary goal of a customer service representative is to get the call resolved. The primary goal of an SQM World Class Certified representative is not only to get the call resolved, but to provide a unique, memorable and pleasant experience whether starting with a blank slate or turning around an experience that started badly. When faced with a new situation, I take the steps necessary to find a permanent solution and to educate the client of all applicable information and consequences. With situations where I am not the first contact regarding a situation, I take extra care to ensure that I am the last, most accurate and most helpful person the client speaks to. Nothing motivates me quite like turning someone’s negative experience into a positive one. In situations where the client gets the short end of the stick, I work on behalf of the client to come to a reasonable and speedy solution the client can be satisfied with.
One example of this is when I had a client who was confused about a transaction that occurred on an account. There was a movement of assets from her husband’s non-registered account to her son’s Tax-Free Savings account as a contribution. She has authority on both accounts so she was able to see this transaction but could not remember asking for the transactions. Upon further investigating I found a letter of direction she had sent attempting to set up power of attorney (authority to transfer shares and cash between these two accounts on an ongoing basis), signed by all three family members. It was not the required Power of Attorney form, I confirmed with her that it was not an instruction to transfer specific assets, but rather an attempt to set up sufficient authority to do so in the future. The damage was done and assets were already contributed from the husband’s non-registered account into the son’s TFSA, causing a taxable over contribution. Someone else had interpreted the letter differently.
I empathized with the client’s shock and disappointment and guaranteed that everything will be resolved as soon as possible in a method that inconveniences her least. As a permanent solution to her original problem, I showed and explained the Power of Attorney form to set up authority for the future, and the proper procedure and letter format required for movement of cash or securities between ownerships. I apologized, explained to the client what went wrong, confirmed the original request with her, and corrected the incorrect or incomplete information she received before ensuring that she understood my message as I intended her to. I requested the client to allow me what I believed was a reasonable time frame to resolve the issue, committed to keeping her informed along the way.
I pulled all available strings, provided proof of error and expressed the client’s point of view while coordinating and negotiating a solution with other departments involved, and the solution was found quicker than expected. I called her the next day to let her know that the correction will be processed within days, and the contribution will be cancelled. As the letter provided originally was misinterpreted, no further action by the client or her family members would be required. Again, I committed to call her with updates and leave messages as required. Within the same week, on the Friday just before leaving work for the weekend, I was pleased to receive an email informing me that the error was corrected and the client has been made whole. With a smile on my face, I called and left a message with her husband (as instructed) to let his wife know that the issue was resolved, and to wish her a happy and stress-free weekend. Leaving on vacation the next week, I put the situation out of my mind. As it was resolved I did not expect for the client to communicate with me again. To my pleasant surprise, upon my return to work, I had received a hand-written thank you card from this client. For me, it was just a regular part of my daily duties, but to her it was so much more.
Anna Gizicki – Scotia iTRADE
A Life of Customer Service
“You could say customer service is my calling.”
Through my adult years, most of my career choices have somehow allowed me to help others. I guess you could say customer service is my calling. Sun Life Financial is the second company that I have worked for that celebrates just that customer service. Not just mediocre service, but World Class service. Through my years at Sun Life, I have been blessed with many skills to provide just that. I believe that the more you can offer your customer the better their experience. May it be from assisting them with their benefits coverage or providing them with guidance in selecting their plan, every little piece matters. With recognizing that, I have been fortunate enough to be World Class Certified for the past 4 years. I have always felt that knowledge and assistance is the key.
I had a member call into the customer care centre one morning that was on the brink of tears. She advised me that she had called Sun Life on multiple occasions, and she was at her wits end with the company. Every time she called in about her daughters declined claim she would keep getting the same answer: just have the pharmacy resubmit the claim and we will be able to process it”. But little did the member know, they were wrong. See, the member had been trying to get an expensive Cancer medication for her daughter approved through her pay direct drug card and it kept declining. She said it normally would not be an issue; she could have paid for it herself and mail in the receipts. But since this was a very expensive cancer medication and she had been off work, caring for her sick daughter, a $1200.00 out of pocket experience was not feasible. As she finished explaining her situation I quickly reviewed her claims, and saw what was happening. The codes that the pharmacy was submitting were mixed up. Now instead of just advising what to tell the pharmacy, I decided to resolve this matter once and for all.
As Sun Life is an incoming call center, outbound calls are not a part of our everyday call flow, but I took it upon myself to ask the member for her permission to contact her pharmacy to rectify the situation. She obliged, and I placed her on hold. I then proceeded to contact her pharmacy and was lucky to speak to someone who knew the members situation. When I was reviewing her daughter’s claims, I noticed that the code that the pharmacy was using to identify her daughter was in fact one that was supposed to be used for the member only. So at a quick glance of the claim, you would see the daughter’s correct name and date of birth which would lead you to believe everything was ok, except it was being declined. I then walked the pharmacist through the claim submission, which was able to reflect in our Sun Life system right away. The pharmacist then apologized for the inconvenience caused to the member and asked if I could let her know it was approved and ready for pick up.
When I came back on the line and apologized for the wait. I told her everything was fixed. As she started to speak I could hear the hesitation in her voice. I ensured her that I walked the pharmacist through the claim and I saw the approval myself. I gave her the full claim details right down to the penny to reassure her it was approved. I also advised what happened with the past claims so she was aware for all future ones. I then proceeded to happily advise that the pharmacy has the prescription ready for her. The member then thanked me with the sound of happy tears in her voice, and wished me a wonderful rest of my day. After we disconnected the call. I had an overwhelming sense of pride in myself. Not only was I able to resolve an ongoing issue for our member and hopefully relieve some burden, but I believe I was able to bring some confidence back to our member regarding our customer service. It is moments like these that make me love my job. I truly enjoy providing excellent customer service and helping people.
Erica Kelloway – Sun Life Financial
Going Above and Beyond to Ensure a Memorable Experience
“I knew my job was done and that I had gone to the lengths that were within my reach to provide the service that was needed from Sun Life Financial.”
Every time a call comes in there is one thought that comes to mind, “How can I go above and beyond to answer their question?” At the end of every call there is one thought that comes to mind, “Did I do everything I can to answer this members inquiry?” This is why I am certified again in 2014. My members come first. I always find a way to go above and beyond to make sure that this experience was not only a memorable one, but one in which I was able to resolve their issue. Considering I do this on every call, this particular instance was one that was easy to remember. A few months ago a call came in and I felt the nerves and sadness in the caller’s voice as soon as I responded. I knew this was going to be a call to remember. I followed the same routines as usual, identifying, authenticating, and the logging, but I completed it with patience to make sure the caller did not feel more stressed than need be.
When asked how I could be of help, the caller started expressing her personal barriers and panics, letting me know that she suffered from cancer. Usually this is not something people automatically share as openly, however she felt I could be trusted. She has recently been diagnosed and had no idea what steps to follow, what she had to do, or who she had to call. I made sure to acknowledge the unfortunate events she was experiencing as well as provide during this difficult time. I promised her I would not disconnect the call until she felt comfortable and at ease with the information I was to provide. I needed to know everything to be able to respond to what was needed. I asked for her permission before hand and asked her about her situation and where she was with her knowledge towards the newly diagnosed disease. Once all of this was gathered together I confirmed EVERY detail possible that was needed to my knowledge for cancer patients. We started going through a list of medical equipment that might be needed, such as wigs or living aids. I made sure to confirm the coverage even if services had not yet been prescribed to inform her as best I could about her options.
Even though we currently were not aware of which drugs she would be prescribed, I educated the member on how to confirm her own coverage instead of having to call every time. I had even researched online any other aspects I may have been missing to make sure there would be no other reason for this member to call in after the end of our discussion. Once I felt that every detail was discussed she started crying. I told her everything would be alright and asked if there was anything else I could have done to make her feel at peace. She said: “I am not crying because I am sad Gen, I am crying because you are the first person I have told since the news was broken to me and I would have never thought that my insurance company would be the one to make me feel like everything will be okay and I will survive. Thank you Genevieve for being the person you are and making this horrible experience a memorable moment even if just for 10 minutes.” I knew my job was done and that I had gone to the lengths that were within my reach to provide the service that was needed from Sun Life Financial.
Genevieve Tees – Sun Life Financial
A Lasting Imprint
“This experience has helped me to decide that even over the phone you can touch some one’s life”
I have been lucky enough to have an experience where I was not only able to help someone; but where it left a lasting imprint on my heart and brings a smile and a tear every time I think about it.
Back in May I received a call from a woman. She was quite shaken and was looking into withdrawing money from her retirement account due to hardship. As I looked through this I realized that she had already processed a withdrawal due to financial hardship two months earlier for low income. Knowing that a person can only process one withdrawal due to hardship in a calendar year for low income, it saddened me to have to communicate this to the member.
As I began to explain the rules indicating that this was not possible, she interrupted and explained that she had lost her job during a time when her husband was going through some medical treatments. They had the opportunity to take out more than they did at that time but she had just finished a job interview and at that time the position looked promising so they decided only on a smaller amount. She also indicated that she had spoken with her city counsellor and they had told her that it was up to the institution whether or not they would allow for a 2nd low income. Still being a newer employee I told her I would look into this and call her back. I followed up internally to see if there was any possibility that I might not be seeing. Administration replied to me advising me that there was no way. This did not seem right to me and I dreaded being the one to have to call the member back and break her heart.
I continued to mull over hardship withdrawal rules and sure enough, there it was, right in front of me. Although she could not apply for low income, I recalled her saying that she didn’t want to lose her house. I immediately emailed administration and had them confirm that as long as the hardship withdrawal was for a different reason she could apply under the different category to see if she qualified. Administration replied back just as fast confirming this. I immediately placed a call to the member and told her about this new possibility for applying based on her mortgage requirements. We both were ecstatic. I told her I would e-mail her the forms and she could submit them right away.
Wanting to see this though and provide her and her husband with peace of mind I gave her my e-mail address so we could communicate more easily. A few days went by so I decided to take a look to see where things were at when I realized the forms had not been received. I called her back right away to try to rectify this and get her the proper forms. Once I was able to confirm that I was going to send her the proper forms right away, the member became very upset. She told me that even if I did this, she had no way to get the forms to us because she had no money to send them back to us by courier. I quickly offered fax; but she had no ink in the printer and no money to buy ink. A lump came up in my throat and tears in my eyes. I felt that I had to help this member any way that I could. I noticed that she lived in Kitchener, close to where our office is so without hesitation, I offered to bring the forms directly to her house and put them in her mailbox. I told her I would do whatever I could to help. After a very heartwarming conversation she said that she may be able to print them off at a friend’s house. I gave her the right fax number and within days she received the funds in her account.
After a few days I received a follow up email from her. “I would like to thank you again for all you have done for me regarding my situation. Words cannot describe how much this means to me and my family. You are a true example of outstanding customer service, listening and caring for your customers. Thank-you! This experience has helped me to decide that even over the phone you can touch some one’s life.”
Kerri Schebesch – Sun Life Financial
An Experience to Remember
“This will be one I will never forget and I will continue to cherish my time working with Sun Life.”
My journey with Sun Life started just over a year ago, I had never worked in a call centre previously and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Working at Sun Life truly gives me the ability to help people and make their “Sun Life” experience outstanding. The most rewarding day I experienced, was when a disgruntled customer called in and I had no I idea what to expect! But let’s start with this email: “Excellent customer service Michelle! If there is one reason I am staying with Sun Life now, is because you kept and delivered on all your promises.” Sun Life Customer. I received that message from our customer after resolving a lengthy problem for him.
Our journey together began two days earlier, when I answered a call as per our process “Thank you for calling Sun Life Financial, you’ve reached Michelle…” The gentleman replied expressing his concern about a transaction that could not be processed from a previous representative. It seems he had a restriction flag on his account for bankruptcy, which he was not aware, and the discharge papers were never processed, which was his main purpose for calling in. Without hesitation I contacted the administrative team. Priority # one for me was to confirm what information was needed so I could remove the restriction flag (as many of you may now, with this restriction on the account I would not be able to process any of his requests). Therefore, removal was necessary. He expressed instantly, with threat, to remove all of his money within SLF and seek out services elsewhere. He had lost all confidence in SLF; this saddened me but also sparked the flame that fueled my ambition. It was clear to me that the key to a successful resolution was clear communication with our customer.
The outcome had to be resolution; therefore I pledged to him what my obligation to him was as a SLF representative, “I am very sorry sir, for the occurrence of this situation. This situation should not have come into existence, but I reassure to you, that I will do whatever it takes to resolve this problem.” Going above and beyond is what I pride my customer service on, take the steps necessary in order to exceed all expectations. I accomplished with essential composer the removal of the restriction within 24 hours. I remained in communication with him during the entire process, in order to give him the assurance and understanding he was undoubtedly looking for. I sent his discharge papers on high urgency. As soon as I gained knowledge of the forms being sent in, I contacted him immediately. I noticed that the funds were being sent out in the form of a cheque, which would take more time. Therefore I called him immediately and requested his banking information to have the funds deposited directly into his account. The member was not only happy that I was making this my number one priority but, was pleased to see I was making sure to take every measure to have this funds to him asap.
Once I received the message from my team to say the flag was removed I processed the withdrawal and called the member to give him the timeline as to when he would be seeing his funds and that he could rest assure that the problem had been fixed and he would not be having issues moving forward. The member was incredibly grateful for all of Sun Life’s hard work in the matter and that I had let him know what was going on every step of the way until there was a resolution. It is safe to say this will not be my last rewarding and touching experience. But, this will be one I will never forget and I will continue to cherish my time working with Sun Life.
Michelle Robinson – Sun Life Financial
Changing the Future One Call at a Time
“Willing to go above and beyond”
In my role as a customer service advisor, I am always willing to go above and beyond for my client, especially when they are in a situation of great distress. There have been multiple occasions where the reward of helping people has far exceeded my salary or recognition of “providing good customer service”. Below is one particular event that I will always remember and remind me that I love what I do.
I received a call from a young, single, brand new mother who was on disability prior to delivery. Due to a premature delivery, her newborn baby needed vital medications. It was after delivery that she discovered her benefit coverage was discontinued. The medication was extremely costly and was going to be a serious problem for a new mother whose child was already ill and at a high risk of additional health problems. During the call, it was emotionally difficult to absorb, and it was impossible to relate to what was happening to this young mother. I recognized immediately that this needed to be handled as quickly as possible, regardless where the error originated. I made the promise to her that I would take ownership and stay with her through the entire process. Although she was in tears and distraught beyond comfort, I listened carefully to what she was saying. She was able to give me some background information, such as when her coverage stopped, and that her healthcare provider advised they have not received necessary information from her employer.
I first contacted her ability advisor to ensure that the correct paperwork had been submitted to, and received by, the benefit department. This was instantly confirmed, but I still needed to confirm that the provider was notified. This process required a day or so in order to be confirmed. At this point, I informed my caller of our progress and assured her that I would do everything in my power to have this resolved as soon as possible. An extra sense of urgency kicked in when I learned that her newborns medications were almost gone. She could not afford the cost of additional medication right away. My attempt to understand and my compassion for her definitely gave her a sense of support and helped to alleviate some of her stress. The following day the benefits resolution specialist followed up and advised that there was an error with the providers interface. This was not the news that she wanted to hear, and the fix could take days before her benefits would be reinstated. I escalated the ticket to my resolution specialist and my management immediately in hopes that we could resolve this sooner. Fortunately, our departments saw the urgency of this situation and contacted the manager of the benefit department. Hours later, my resolution specialist, along with my manager, and the client, advised me that the information on the providers interface was corrected and that she would be able to use her coverage the following day. While I was waiting for an update that day, I called her to let her know at what stage in the process we were at. That alone changed her emotional status and she felt that she finally had support. When I relayed that her coverage would start again the next day, she was finally able to relax and enjoy being a new mom. She said she felt so relieved and was so grateful that I was patient and understanding of her situation and that I was quickly able to address her problem.
The most rewarding feeling of this experience was after learning that because of this situation, our client put a practice in place to have management notified of special circumstances like this. I take a lot of pride in knowing that my actions have helped others and will continue to help others. A new process has been put into place by our client to address sensitive issues and we now have a team of individuals who personally follow up and monitor issues like this. The client worked closely with our contact center and together both teams developed training and reference materials to identify sensitive issues and ensure timely resolution moving forward.
Davor Ilic – Telus Sourcing Solutions
Committed to Make a Difference
“Going above and beyond is what led to getting her retirement information to the correct contacts in such a timely manner.”
I want all employees to understand that we are here for them and care about their needs and concerns. I enjoy taking ownership and following through on my commitments. I had received a call from a Registered Nurse whom had submitted her retirement application months previous and wanted to know when to expect payment. The employee advised me that she had worked with her manager to ensure that the retirement documents were submitted for processing well in advance of her retirement date. At this point, she had not yet heard back from anyone for follow up, and was very concerned, which prompted her call.
She told me of her 25 years worked as a Registered Nurse and how much she and her husband were looking forward to their dream cruise vacation, once she was officially retired. I immediately searched for the retirement request, which had been processed correctly in the system, and therefore was already reflecting as “pending retirement”. After asking the employee for the specific dates in which she submitted the documents and how they were submitted, I was able to determine the underlying cause. The employee had submitted the retirement documents directly to Local Authorities Pension Plan (the pension plan administrators), prior to submitting to her own HR for approvals first. This in turn, holds up the retirement process for the employee, which can cause delays in payment. I then reviewed the system data and I was able to see that the employee’s Manager was new to the organization. In this case, the Manager had signed off on the sections in which the pensions department should have approved, and then submitted the documents directly to the Local Authorities Pension Plan based on the address on the top of the form. It was an honest mistake, and it was now my job to help explain the situation to the employee, which understandably upset and frustrated her. The thought of their dream vacation being cancelled or postponed brought her to tears as it had been booked almost a year in advance.
I reassured her I would do everything I could to address this issue. By being empathic and compassionate, we formed a real connection, and this is when she was able to let her guard down a bit and open up. I really wanted her to feel that I was there to help and not just there to listen. I informed her that although a mistake was made, we were going to have this resolved together very quickly. She told me she still had blank copies of the retirement application forms on her home desk top and saved copies of the forms submitted. I stayed with her on the line and walked her, step by step, through filling out the forms. Furthermore I ensured she had the correct fax number to the Pensions Department and waited on the call with her until she received confirmation her fax went through. She was very grateful for the assistance and guidance. I had committed to change this bad situation into a relatively positive one. She had earned that dream vacation and I was going to see that happen. I then contacted the Pensions department to ensure that they received this application and to expedite it to Local Authorities Pension Plan for further processing. I then contacted the employee’s Manager. I explained the situation, and we walked through the retirement process guidelines. I gave the Manager my personal contact information for follow up as I wanted to let her know that I would be there if she had further questions or concerns. The manager was so grateful that we were able to assist her friend and colleague with the process.
Going above and beyond is what led to getting her retirement information to the correct contacts in such a timely manner. It was then that I was able to call the employee back, to advise that her application had been received and forwarded and was processing with Local Authorities Pension Plan. She was beyond ecstatic, and this to me is what retirement should be about! Recognizing the challenges experienced with retirements, I brought the issue forward to my management team. After working very closely with the Client for three months, the process for retirements has been thoroughly reviewed by the Client. At the request of the Contact Centre management team, the retirement sessions for employees were reinstated after being cancelled in 2012. The retirement package for employees is being fully reviewed and a retirement team is in place at the client level to ensure that all retirement tickets have personal involvement from an HR Advisor to ensure a seamless path to well-deserved retirement. Can one person make a difference? I like to think so!
Jennifer Ryan – Telus Sourcing Solutions
Quick Thinking to Resolve a Unique Situation
“Rachael immediately realized she was going to have to forgo general processes to assist this couple.”
Losing the ability to speak would be absolutely terrifying. Add being forced into retirement and having to call your HR contact centre for assistance with this in depth process. This situation occurred to a client who had been diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia. This is a debilitating condition of the brain that affects the ability to comprehend information and form speech. Rachael received the phone call from the clients husband. Immediately she could tell that he was extremely frustrated and worn out. He explained that his frustration stemmed from calling the contact centre numerous times previously and being told he was not able to speak on behalf of his wife. Furthermore he could not be provided with any details of her account. He fully explained his wife’s medical condition to Rachael and was adamant that the process needed to change. Rachael immediately realized she was going to have to forgo general processes to assist this couple. She explained to him that she would answer any and all questions regarding his spouse’s retirement process, as soon as she could verify her identity.
Verification is a process of four questions; name, job title, union, and employee ID number are the most common. The client had provided her name and ID number; Rachael just needed two more pieces to move forward. Determined, Rachael asked the 3rd question in hopes to get them on the right track. The client appeared to be struggling, repeating the question over and over, trying to formulate the words “Nursing Assistant”. Rachael realized that these two questions, although simple for most, would not be for the client due to her condition. With quick thinking, she changed up her line of questioning. Rachael was able to get through verification by asking the client her Date of Birth and her Home Phone Number. The verification process that normally takes 30 seconds took nearly fifteen minutes. Rachael accepted that challenge with patience and compassion. Once verification was complete, Rachael was able to receive verbal confirmation from the client, that going forward her husband would be able to speak on her behalf. With her husband back on the phone, Rachael answered all questions they had about the Retirement process and Pension. She then explained that she would create a ticket on the clients file, and he would be able to provide this ticket number with all future calls to the Contact Centre. This would provide proof of permission for the client’s husband to speak on her behalf. At the end of this conversation, he expressed his satisfaction regarding the result of this phone call. Rachael let him know that in the future he could request to speak with her directly as they had built a great rapport.
One week later, Rachael answers another call and immediately recognized the husband’s voice. Without preamble he went on to explain that earlier that day, prior to her shift starting, he had called the Contact Centre and was not assisted as she had promised. Rachael immediately asked if she could have a moment to review the file notes. The previous agent had not been comfortable releasing information, as he had not called with his wife. Communicating with the nearest supervisor, Rachael explained the entire scenario and was given permission to answer any questions he had regarding his wife’s Retirement Application. Following this conversation, Rachael emailed Management and her Resolutions team, explaining the situation in full. With persistence she fought to have a solution to this situation as it was a fairly sensitive issue. After a review, it was found that there was no clear process in place for a situation where an Employee needs to have someone speak on their behalf. Due to this situation, and the persistence Rachael had ensured that he could speak on his wife’s behalf, Management was able to clearly outline a new process and sent it to the client for approval. The process was approved and going forward, when the client’s husband calls the Contact Centre, an email will be immediately sent to Senior Management, who will call him directly to address any questions or concerns.
Rachael’s attitude towards work challenges is only one of the great qualities she brings to the table. Rachael was able to build trust between the client and the contact centre which is vital for ensuring the customer experience is exceptional. Rachael constantly puts forth enthusiastic energy and is a pleasure to work with. Her ability to interact positively with the clients transfers onto the floor and influences those around her. Combined with extensive knowledge on Alberta Health Services procedures and practices, Rachael is an absolute asset and is relied upon for more than what her job title states. Rachael is a pleasure to work with and is always happily available to help in anything asked of her. I’m happy to sing Rachael’s praises as they are well deserved.
Rachael Clarke – Telus Sourcing Solutions
Going Above and Beyond One Last Time
“His last wish was a simple one”
A social worker who worked in a nearby hospital called us one day with a compelling story of one of their clients. The client in her care was a 19 year old with a terminal illness who was nearing the end of his life.
Due to the various treatments he had undergone, the client’s vision had become impacted and he had been unable to see clearly for months. The client shared with his family and his social worker that his last wish was a simple one, but would mean the world to him. He wanted to be able to see clearly for his last days of life. While his parents had taken him to get an eye exam, the competing priorities surrounding the young man’s struggle made it difficult for them to find time to order glasses for him. His social worker reached out to VSP and spoke with one of our CSRs, Kelly Durkee.
Inspired by the clients story and wanting to help, Kelly reached out to his VSP provider, spoke with the office manager, and was able to secure approval for the social worker (who had agreed to pay any copays and cover any out of pocket expenses) to pick up a pair of glasses for their client. The solution was appreciated by all parties involved, but it weighed heavily on Kelly as she felt there was more that could be done to help both the social worker and their client. After reaching out to her supervisor to share her concerns, she contacted the provider’s office again and learned that anti-reflective coating was recommended to help reduce glare of the harsh hospital lighting. Kelly, empowered to make a decision, chose to provide the office with a new authorization to bill for the glasses with anti-reflective coating fully-covered and all copays waived. Not only did this help increase the client’s quality of life in the hospital, it also cancelled all out of pocket expenses for the social worker. The social worker called VSP back to share that she was brought to tears by Kelly’s generosity. She also shared that when she spoke with her clients parents about what Kelly had done for their son, they were inspired to go pick up the glasses themselves. While the client did pass away two days later, the social worker explained that his final days were happy ones. He was able to enjoy his favorite TV shows and play with his tablet. More importantly, he was able to see his family clearly before passing.
Helping people see is VSP’s mission, and Kelly went above and beyond to ensure that the client’s last wish came true. We are truly inspired and proud to have her with our company.
Kelly Durkee – VSP Vision Care
2013 Top Eleven CSR Finalists Great Customer Service Stories
Creative Thinking Saved the Day for a Customer
“Aidan ran with the idea and executed it perfectly.”
Sometimes a little creative thinking can help make a difference and leave a positive, lasting impression. Such was the case last May when Aidan Lyall, a CRCC representative, saved the day for a customer who had run into a problem we have probably all faced once or twice. The customer had rushed to attend a meeting in downtown Toronto and parked his car in one of the many downtown lots. Hours later he went back to collect the car and realized he could not remember where he parked.
The customer called CTFS and Aidan, who had only been on the job a few weeks, took the call. The customer asked if there was a way to tell where his credit card had been used that day. Aidan ran with the idea and executed it perfectly. She not only searched through the customer’s transactions and retrieved the postal code for the most recent one; she then used this information to find the location of the parking lot using Google tools. Once that was established, Aidan asked the customer for his current location and gave him walking directions back to his car. Needless to say the customer was extremely thankful, which is reflected in the customer’s comments.
The customer called back just to say thank you for the help Aidan offered today. He was so happy that Aidan was able to tell him where he had parked his car so he was able to find it. He had lots of good things to say about Aidan and all the great help she provided and felt it was necessary to call back. As he said, “people only call back to complain, but rarely call back to say thank you and I wanted to make sure Aidan was thanked again for the service she provided me this morning. Great job!”
Aidan Lyall – Canadian Tire Financial Services
Customer Treated like Family
“The steps Jo-Ann took next set her apart as a World Class representative, particularly as the call moved from a very typical situation toward one that required quick thinking, compassion and extreme service.”
It was late on an August evening when Jo-Ann (an experienced representative in our Roadside Assistance division) received a call from a young, new driver. The customer was visiting Toronto and was involved in a minor accident on a ramp of the QEW (one of Ontario’s busiest highway that sees approximately 200,000 cars per day on some sections). The customer was very nervous and upset. Jo-Ann displayed great composure as she asked the customer important questions to help determine what happened and exactly where she was located. The steps Jo-Ann took next set her apart as a World Class representative, particularly as the call moved from a very typical situation toward one that required quick thinking, compassion and extreme service. First, noticing the customer was young in age, Jo-Ann offered to get in contact with the customer’s parents. The quick thinking teen, however, had already spoken to her parents who advised her to contact Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance, because she had coverage with our plan. While on the call, a non-contracted tow truck driver arrived and started to hook up her car, which created additional anxiety for our customer as this tow truck driver expected cash payment and she did not have enough money to cover this expensive demand. Jo-Ann provided excellent guidance and direction to the customer helping her maintain control of the situation and coached her on what to say to the tow truck driver. Meanwhile, Jo-Ann followed up directly with our contracted tow truck driver to have the vehicle towed off the ramp safely, and have the long distance tow covered. She then made arrangements for the customer to receive a ride home and followed up with her later to make sure everything was okay. The next day, the customer’s mother called to commend Jo-Ann for her amazing service. She was genuinely appreciative for the level of compassion Jo-Ann demonstrated, saying she treated her daughter like her own family.
Jo-Ann Topolinsky – Canadian Tire Financial Services
Conferencing a Member’s Call to Obtain First Call Resolution
“Joslyn decided not to transfer him, and instead decided to conference the call to obtain First Call Resolution.”
Building a great rapport with our members is one of our top priorities. Josyln received a call from a member who wanted to gain a better understanding of his healthcare product and services that were rendered. In the beginning of the call, the member expressed his confusion about how his medical and prescription claims were processed. However, with Joslyn’s pleasant tone and thorough explanation, the member was able to comprehend how the claims were processed. Joslyn gave the member all of the requested information and the amount that went towards his deductible.
Joslyn’s excellent customer service did not stop there; after giving the member a detailed explanation of his medical plan, the member had additional questions concerning his prescription product and wanted an explanation on how his prescription claims were processed. Although Joslyn does not handle prescription calls and is limited to the specific prescription data, Joslyn decided not to transfer his call and decided to conference the call to obtain First Call Resolution. Joslyn was able to speak with our Pharmacy Vendor and gave them a brief overview of the issue/concern which allowed the member not to repeat himself.
Joslyn stayed on the line with the member and our Pharmacy Vendor until the member confirmed his understanding of how the prescription claims were processed. A deductible audit was performed and mailed out to the member. Joslyn followed up with the member to ensure all requests, needs, and issues were resolved/addressed. The member stated how grateful he was to have experienced great customer service by Joslyn.
Joslyn Knight Cherry – CareFirst
Efforts Rewarded by Gaining a New Customer
“This caller did not have any previous dealings with our company in the past, and I could tell she wanted more personal service. This was an opportunity to make a lasting impression.”
I originally took this job at the call center to help people. As time went on, I felt I was just going through the motions. Most calls seemed so alike to me. My customer feedback was middle of the road. Last year my organization modified our Quality program, shifting an increased focus on the end to end customer experience. When I participated in workshops to put the message into action, I was shaken out of my daze. I now understood that every level of my organization from my company president all the way down to my supervisor said that making customers happy is what our organization should be about. By focusing on each customer and not just what I had to do for my job, I felt invigorated. I was SQM certified with World Class Calls for the first time in my life. Each call was different because each client was different. Each interaction with a customer was an opportunity for me to shine.
One such chance came while I was working the late shift. The caller was a potential customer interested in purchasing personal health insurance. Our process is to direct the caller to a licensed advisor, who will call them back in a few business days. If the caller wanted to speak with an advisor right away, I could transfer to a financial center. Unfortunately, because it was so late at night, the financial centers in the client’s area were closed. There is also the option to purchase personal health insurance online. If the caller does not want to speak with an advisor, our normal process is to direct the caller to our website and leave it up to them. This caller did not have any previous dealings with our company in the past, and I could tell she wanted more personal service. This was an opportunity to make a lasting impression.
Using effective probing, I found out that she wanted insurance for herself and for her daughter right away. She was not sure how to navigate our website, so I opened up a browser window and walked her through step by step. She then had questions about certain plans that normally would be answered by our personal health department. Unfortunately that department was closed. I felt it was my duty to try and help this potential client as much as I could, so I diligently tried to research the answers to her questions. The caller was concerned about security and did not want to provide her credit card information online. I knew this was a make or break moment for whether she would choose our company for health insurance. Although this was not a part of the website that I am overly familiar with, I quickly located other payment option details for the client. I provided her with the location of a PDF form so she could fax us her banking information to have the payments taken directly from her bank account. The client was happy that she did not need to provide us with her banking information online. I let the client know that she could buy the insurance online and follow up with the personal health insurance tomorrow to find out how quickly her policy would be in effect.
The caller was so thankful that I was able to assist her with this urgent request. I was so happy to see that my efforts were rewarded by this client choosing to do business with Sun Life. I felt I had gone above and beyond to deliver superior customer service to this potential client. I work in the life insurance area and I often get calls from customers needing assistance with products that I do not handle. If something is not my area of expertise, I am confident that no matter where I direct the customer to, the next employee has the same mandate to put the needs of the customer first. It is really empowering to know I am really helping people and my company is behind me all the way. That is why I am proud to represent Sun Life Financial.
Lynn Desouza – Sun Life Financial
Going the Extra Mile for a Customer in Need
“Normally this process could take a month, but through perseverance Max was able to get the approval within a few hours.”
Max received a call from a nurse case manager who was reviewing a prior approval request for a customer’s knee surgery. The surgery had been scheduled for eight months but the customer was new to her insurance plan so the prior approval needed to be completed in an expedited fashion. Unfortunately, the member had a waiting period for pre-existing conditions on her policy that happened to be the only thing that hindered her surgery from being approved. A waiting period like this was only applied to a customer when they did not have any previous coverage, but the customer stated she had been on another carrier’s policy for over a year but had not realized she needed to let the insurance company know. The solution was simple: obtain proof of previous insurance from her old carrier. The problem? The process to get such proof can take weeks; the surgery was scheduled for Monday, and it was Thursday morning.
Understanding the gravity of the situation, Max sprung to action. With the member on the line he obtained the phone number for her previous insurance carrier and made a conference call to obtain the proof of coverage. After the other insurance representative verified the customer’s information, he informed them that her policy was still active. The member had not paid her premiums and assumed the policy would be automatically cancelled but the carrier needed to be informed before the policy was officially terminated. The representative said he could take the cancellation over the phone, but it would take up to two weeks to process and then another week to generate a proof of cancellation. Max did not want to give up, so pressing the matter he asked if there was anything else that the representative could do. The representative informed Max that this member’s policy was a COBRA policy and that his company was a third party administrator for the insurance carrier that had held the original policy through the customer’s previous employer. He informed them the original carrier would be the only one that could generate a proof of coverage. Even though they had already been on the phone for over forty-five minutes, Max did not want to give up. Asking the representative to connect them to the original carrier, he made another conference call to ensure this proof of coverage could be obtained. When Max and the customer finally obtained someone that could assist them, the new representative told them the only thing he could do was mail the proof of coverage and the customer would receive it in two weeks, or fax the proof of coverage directly to the customer. The customer did not have a fax but she did know someone who did. The three formed a plan: the representative would fax the proof of coverage to the member, the member would forward it to Max’s attention, and Max would then make sure it was reviewed to remove the waiting period from the member’s policy.
After almost two hours on the phone, Max disconnected the call and waited for the fax. After two hours and constantly checking, the fax finally arrived. It was exactly what they needed. He quickly scanned the document and contacted the department that could remove the waiting period. After everything was finalized, he called the nurse case manager who was able to approve the authorization so the member could have her surgery. Normally this process could take a month, but through perseverance Max was able to get the approval within a few hours. The customer was able to have her surgery that Monday without any further issue.
Max Tardie – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
The Member Needed More Than a Hand – He Needed a Friend
“I did not know him and that was my first time talking to him, but I knew I had to be strong for him.”
As a Customer Service Advocate, I try to go above and beyond on all my calls, but there is this one call in particular that stands out from all others. In late summer 2013, I received a call that was life-changing. I usually take my calls personally and extend every helping hand possible. But it was clear to me that this caller needed more than a hand, he needed a friend. For his privacy, we will call him Mr. Doe.
There was an elderly man in his seventies who maintained employee/spouse coverage with BlueCross BlueShield Small Group and his coverage included Medical, Life, and Dependent Coverage. He was calm and quiet as we discussed hospital claims and his responsibility for the claims. As I began doing my research, I noticed the claims in question were not for him, but rather, for his wife. I explained to Mr. Doe that we did not have authorization on file and I would not be able to assist him, but I gave him options so that he could get the assistance that he needed. I said that if I could speak with his wife for verbal consent, then I could assist him. This man became extremely quiet at this point. It did not cross my mind that anything was wrong. After a 30-40 second pause, he said his wife died from cancer. My heart melted. I did not know him and that was my first time talking to him, but I knew I had to be strong for him. I gave him a few minutes to gather his thoughts. He went on, saying they married young and that she was his friend, his love, his life, and he missed her. Of course at this time, my eyes became very teary, but I stayed focused. He then said he stayed by his wife’s side during her illness. She had terminal cancer and he took full responsibility by staying home to care for the love of his life. He seemed tired and lost, as if he did not know where to start. He was unable to retain the information I was giving him. It was almost as if he was still appalled or numb from losing someone so dear.
My eyes were tearing more and more as he poured his heart out, but I managed to hold it together during the call. I knew there had to be other options for such a delicate case, and as he explained how he used money set aside to pay property taxes for his wife’s medical bills, I was trying to think of other options. He said he was counting on his wife’s life insurance policy to pay for the property taxes and funeral. I was concerned and afraid that he may not be eligible for the medical or life benefits which he desperately needed. There were many roadblocks. From no HIPPA on file, to the hospital, funeral home and others pushing for payments, I can only imagine how distraught he must have been. I know how it feels to care for an ill loved one. To be fully responsible for another life and take care of your personal business as well can be a struggle. I was determined to ensure he received the assistance he needed.
Through gentle, leading questions, I was able to determine that he worked for a company for many years and had accumulated leave and sick pay which likely covered most of the time he took off to care for his wife. I called the company to confirm the accumulated leave time and advised the company to reference this in the event there were any questions about him being actively at work and his eligibility for benefits. I also advised them that they should explain he was using leave accumulated over the years. With his approval, I was able to conference call one of his daughters and receive an email address so I could forward the life claim form to him with instructions on next steps. His daughter confirmed that she would help her father with this process. I told him that we would need legal documents to show he was his wife’s personal representative so we could share the medical claims information with him. I explained to his daughter that we could answer yes or no regarding EOBs, if they had one in their possession. I continued to follow up with one to two calls per week for the next three to four weeks with him. I offered my support by checking on the status of the completed documents and nudging him (or his daughter) to follow through so he could receive the life insurance claim benefits and get the medical bill resolved. I also called Companion Life for additional information regarding the filed life claim and to assist if possible. Knowing his state of mind, I was not comfortable with his ability to complete documents accurately. He was relieved to hear my voice on each and every call and it gave him time to share more about his loss. He seemed to need that and it genuinely seemed to comfort him. I did not need to have the constant communication with him after this call was completed, but I care for my callers and I understood that this was not just a caller, but a person with great loss who needed some additional assistance. I showed him that BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina cares about their members, not just as a number, but as a person.
NOTE FROM PAM’S MANAGER: Pam was truly touched by this member and she has in turn taught her team to take time with their customers. She has taught them to look at each person that calls in as a person and not just an ID card number, and also to not be afraid to go that extra mile and offer additional assistance that may not be in the regular line of duty. The relationship Pam had with this caller will no doubt affect the customer’s relationship with BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. The next time he goes to select health insurance, he will remember how much Pam cared about him in his time of need and how she went the extra mile just to ensure he was OK. Pam is truly what a great Customer Service Advocate should be.
Pamela Cragin – BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
Taking Ownership of the Situation to get Resolution
“Rachael immediately reassured the customer that she would do everything in her power.”
Rachael displays World Class Customer service with each and every call she takes. She consistently demonstrates an ability to prioritize and own an issue until she determines what is truly impacting her customer. In the first week of December, Rachael received a telephone call from a frantic customer. This customer was very apprehensive as she had injured herself while on vacation and did not qualify for employer paid benefits such as short term disability. She was going to take a chance and apply for government benefits. To receive these benefits, your employer must provide the government with the necessary paperwork, describing your past 12 months of income earnings. Due to the circumstances behind the request for the required paper work, our payroll department was unable to immediately release this paperwork to the government, causing delays for our customer. The customer was understandably upset; she had injured herself at the beginning of the most stressful 31 days of any year, December. She was also worried about the delay in the government receiving her paperwork. Rachael immediately reassured the customer, that she would do everything in her power to ensure that the paperwork would be released as soon as possible.
Rachael investigated the cause of the delay and discovered that we had not received the request to do so from the customer’s office. The customer stressed that she confirmed it was sent three times prior to speaking with Rachael. Rachael advised the customer that she would check her file throughout the day and update her as soon as the necessary paperwork was received. Her intent was to expedite the process once it was received, but the documents were not received that day, or the next. Rachael, knowing that there must be an additional reason the information had not arrived, and concerned for the customer’s situation, took ownership of the issue and reached out to her Resolution Specialist. She also sent an email to her Resolution Specialist’s office to discuss the situation and possible options. Rachael convinced her Resolution Specialist to contact the customer’s office directly to find out where the paperwork was sent. Their inquiry determined that the paperwork had been sent for approvals, and not for processing, due to the type of leave. Rachael and her Resolution Specialist were able to speak with the approver of the paperwork and received confirmation that it had been submitted for processing. Rachael was able to contact the customer and assure her that the issue was definitely being addressed and that the necessary paperwork was being created and processed. This reassured the customer and demonstrated that her issue was important.
Rachael made sure the customer was updated throughout the process and made numerous phone calls to her during this four-day period. Rachael has a remarkable ability to empathize with customers. She is the first person to put herself into another’s shoes and show them she truly understands. She understands that she is helping people like herself, with families and everyday problems and concerns; and she treats them the way she would like to be treated.
Rachael Clarke – TELUS Sourcing Solutions Inc.
Only One Call Needed by Member to Obtain Urgent Resolution
“I was committed to getting this taken care of before not only the holiday, but also before everyone left for the day.”
When asked to write a member experience story for 2013, it was hard to pin point just one, as taking the member out of the middle and ensuring first call resolution, has become so engrained in our call center; it is simply the way we do business. Thinking outside of the box and going above and beyond is just what we do. For example, it was the day before Christmas break and close to our close of business; most companies had already closed down for the holidays when I received a call from a frantic mom. She was understandably very upset; her son was sick and needed medication. She had gone to the pharmacy to obtain his medication and was told that she did not have coverage and would need to pay out of pocket for her son’s medication. This medication was very expensive and she could not afford the cost. She called our call center looking for assistance and resolution. I reviewed her membership and confirmed that her son had not yet been added to her group policy. I reassured her that I understood the urgency of the situation and told her not to worry; I was committed to getting this taken care of before not only the holiday, but also before everyone left for the day.
Five minutes prior to closing, I reached out to another department and asked them to expedite the load of this membership into our medical and pharmacy systems. This was completed in just a few minutes for this member. After getting the membership loaded into our systems, I called the pharmacy and had them process the member’s prescriptions to their benefits. I then called the member back and let her know that her prescriptions were all set to be picked up at the pharmacy. The member was extremely thankful that I had taken ownership of her issue and worked so quickly to have it resolved. She was able to pick up her son’s medication that day and she only had to make one call, something I feel very proud of.
Sarah Pollard – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
Quick Thinking to Re-Unite Member with his Wallet
“Thanks to Susan’s quick thinking we were able to help save our co-worker from a lot of anxiety and frustration.”
As a CSR at VSP Vision Care we talk to members, doctors and clients. Occasionally we get calls from members asking about dental coverage and sometimes we get calls about package delivery when they mistakenly think we are UPS. When a non-member called us, CSR Susan Elkins was not thrown off. The gentleman on the phone explained he had found a wallet on a hiking trail in Colorado belonging to one of our members. He went on to explain that the wallet held sensitive information such as a social security card. Susan felt she wanted to help locate this member and get him reunited with his wallet. She asked the caller if he would mind holding while she did some research. He said it was not a problem because he really would like to see the wallet returned. Susan contacted the member’s employer. She explained the situation. The employer was concerned about giving out the member’s address. The employer offered to contact the member and connect the member with the gentleman who found the wallet. Susan returned to her caller and asked if he would provide his phone number. He did. She told him that they were in the process of contacting the member and to expect a phone call. She thanked the gentleman for his good deed.
This member was a nurse vacationing in Colorado. When his employer contacted him he did not realize that he had even lost his wallet. He was so thankful for the Good Samaritan because he would have had great trouble returning home to Missouri without it. He was very lucky that the gentleman who found the wallet was smart enough to contact Susan at VSP who went way above her call handling requirements to get this member’s wallet returned. The employer sent this compliment to Susan: “I just wanted to give a shout out to Susan Elkins in your service department. Susan received a call from a stranger in Colorado who found the wallet of one of our employees vacationing in Colorado. The wallet had everything, including social security card in it. This gentleman is the first hero in this story! Susan kept the caller on the line while she called me to validate our employee’s information. She is the second hero! While I searched for a way to contact our co-worker, Susan got back on the line to let this Good Samaritan know we were working on a solution. We were able to get in touch with our co-worker. They both made contact and the wallet was safely returned. Thanks to Susan’s quick thinking we were able to help save our co-worker from a lot of anxiety and frustration. This is a perfect example of VSP going above and beyond the required service level. Just another reason why we love VSP!”
Susan Elkins – VSP Vision Care
Recognizing an Opportunity to Make all the Difference for the Customer
“I realized that I could turn what could have been a call I would want to forget into one that would help me define myself as a representative who is truly focused on customer care.”
Sometimes in customer service it can feel a little easy to forget the impact we can have on the lives of our callers. In our day to day quest to resolve their concerns, we must always stop to remind ourselves of the influence we have and what can sometimes be the lifeline role we hold for our customers. Early in my Sun Life career I was presented with that moment of truth, where I realized that I could turn what could have been a call I would want to forget into one that would help me define myself as a representative who is truly focused on customer care.
The call came from a plan member whose plan had terminated recently. He had been to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription that ended up not being covered. Assuming we had made an error, he called the CCC very angry and more upset than one would initially expect for the situation. In fact, he was so angry at the outset that he threw down his phone and just could not talk about it. I sensed there had to be more to this story. I hoped he would return to the line and so I waited patiently. Luckily, his wife returned to the line and apologized for her husband. Their stress was palpable. Through empathy and reassurance, the story began to unfold and I came to understand. I also recognized my opportunity to relieve their stress.
The story was not an uncommon one. The company our client was working for had forced him into early retirement and he and his wife were left emotionally and financially unprepared for the challenges this upheaval would bring. They were under the impression they had a little more coverage time on their plan and were shocked when I told them that the plan had indeed been terminated. The husband being unable to talk, the conversation continued with our client’s wife. In probing for understanding and seeking possible solutions, I asked her if she had any coverage of her own. She did not think she did, but low and behold I found an active plan under her name. They had never thought to see if her plan was still active because her husband’s plan had always covered everything for them. The olive branch was found. Now the relief was palpable.
It did not end there. Upon reviewing their new-found coverage, we were nearing the end of our conversation when she mentioned they were hoping to figure things out on an upcoming trip to Cuba. We went through the travel insurance under her plan and I informed her she would need proof of coverage to enter Cuba. She did not have access to a computer with which she could print the card, so I asked her when they were leaving, to see if I would have enough time to mail a card to them. As it turns out, they were leaving the very next day. Well, I did not give up. I asked her if there was anyone she could go visit that day with a computer who could print the card with her. Fearful, she said her daughter was already at work and she would not be able to get to her house before their departure the next day. I asked her for her daughter’s phone number and together with her on the line we called her daughter to explain the situation. Unfortunately, her daughter was out for lunch and unable to access a computer. The barriers seemed to keep coming. My determination was steadfast. I was not letting this go until they were helped; pure and simple. I asked for her daughter’s fax number and told them that I would fax over the medipass during my lunch hour and that I would then call her back to make sure that she had received it. Finally, a resolution.
Although we are an inbound call centre I felt it was necessary, after I faxed the medipass, that I call the couple back to make sure everything had been received. The wife answered and while talking to her, her husband actually came back on the phone and apologized for his earlier behaviour. He broke down explaining how hard the early retirement was on them. He had always been the provider for the family and now he felt helpless and insecure about their future. Now I knew there was even more we could do. I explained to him the guidance our Advisors can provide and asked if he’d like to be contacted by one of our Sun Life Advisors after their trip. He took me up on the offer immediately, with gratitude and happiness in his voice. Lost with this new life change, they finally felt that knowledgeable help was on the way and they were not alone to find their way. I was very grateful that I was given this chance to be of service and make such a difference. When the conversation was over, I was exhausted. So much had happened, but I was very relieved that I could help them and proud of myself for my caring, perseverance, and out of the box thinking. From the very start and all the way through our initial discussion, this call could have taken a very different path with unfortunate results.
As a CCR it can sometimes be challenging to not react to those negative emotions that land on us with our first hello. We just have to remember that everyone calling us has a story, and that we do not know what has led them to this level of distress, and to this phone call. We do not always get to know the story but making the extra effort to find it out will always give us the opportunity, if we seize it, to be that person who made all the difference. I remember that call vividly and proudly, and strive every day to be the person that my callers will fondly recall the next time they think about Sun Life Financial. It is a privilege and great responsibility to have such an opportunity to touch so many lives daily.
Tara Gray – Sun Life Financial
Working Together to get to the Root of the Problem
“I had to do something. The family was stranded at a gas station a long way from home with no available credit.”
One evening a call was transferred to me through the security queue from another CSR because of a security block on the account. The callers were frantic – they were travelling home to Ontario from a Florida vacation and neither of the credit cards on their account was working. They, along with their young children, were relying on their credit cards to pay for accommodations, food, and fuel on the way home. They were considerably worried about their ability to pay for the trip home without the use of their cards. After listening to the situation, it was easy to empathize with them. I assured the customers that I was here to help and that we would work together to get to the root of the problem.
Upon viewing the account, I could see that in addition to the security flag that caused their account to be blocked, all of their available credit was used and the account would actually be over its limit once several new pending transactions were also posted. I followed our processes by first reviewing the transactions the system had flagged with its security block. Quickly I was able to determine that the primary card holder’s card had been counterfeited and used in another state. Unfortunately, even though our system had caught the fraudulent activity and blocked the account, the fraudulent transactions that had been processed exhausted all of their available credit. The transactions were all on the primary cardholder’s card so I was able to cancel that card and reissue, which also allowed me to remove the security block from the account. The second card on the account was then reactivated, but I knew the family would still have no available credit on their account until the fraudulent transactions were removed from the account, which can take some time.
I had to do something. The family was stranded at a gas station a long way from home, with no available credit to pay for their gas, food for their children, or accommodations for the night. My next step was to look for any credit limit increase offers that the account might qualify for. Luckily, there was one available so I explained the offer and by processing the limit increase, it gave them the funds needed to hold them over until the fraudulent transactions were removed. The couple was understandably frightened and upset when they realized that their card had been compromised, but I was able to put them at ease by explaining that the situation was certainly not their fault and that they would not be held responsible for the fraudulent transactions. By the end of the call, they were no longer stranded, the fraud investigation was well in progress, and they definitely had an interesting story to tell friends and family about their vacation.
Wendy Cleversey – Millennium1 Solutions
2012 CSR of the Year Great Customer Service Story
Member did not Have to Reschedule Surgery
“Liza began to work across several departments to identify the delay and rectify the situation.”
Liza received a call from a member who was part of a newly contracted employer group. The member had been preparing for months to have a total hip replacement in a few days and was concerned that he had not yet received any materials for his new benefit plan. In addition, the surgery was going to require precertification by our medical services staff.
The precertification process cannot be initiated until the member’s benefit plan is active. During the member’s initial phone call, Liza was not able to locate an active benefit plan for the member or the employer group as there was a delay in the enrollment process. Liza was, however, able to discover through her research that all the necessary information had been received from the employer group including the member’s application but everything was still in the process of being set up in our systems. The member became increasingly concerned that he may have to postpone his surgery and was quite frustrated with the delay in the enrollment process.
Liza took immediate action and ownership of the member’s concerns. Liza was able to reassure the member that she cared about the situation and would work on this right away. She comforted the member and told him that she would be back in touch with him as soon as possible. As a customer service professional, Liza’s responsibilities did not include sales, the application process and enrollment, benefit set up, system configuration or medical precertification. However, Liza took it upon herself to become the member’s voice and began to work across several departments to identify the delay and rectify the situation. Leaving the member hanging was not an option for Liza and she was going to do her best to make sure the employer group’s enrollment was completed and the member loaded into our systems.
One of the joys of being a small company meant that Liza could work closely with other departments. She contacted the group sales representative, the account manager and the group enrollment department to request this paperwork be pushed through as a high priority. She then walked over to the configuration department that was handling the benefit set up for this new group. She explained the urgency of the situation and the configuration representative agreed to expedite the benefit set up process. The system configuration and set up were completed the next morning and Liza then worked with the membership department to load the member’s application as a priority. All the while keeping contact with the member so that he was aware of every step being taken. The next day Liza was able to initiate the precertification process with our medical services staff and make sure that any necessary approvals were in place including the member’s prescription medications.
What normally takes weeks, Liza accomplished in two days due to her commitment to provide World Class Service to our members. The member was extremely pleased and expressed to Liza if he would have had to reschedule the surgery it would have taken an emotional and physical toll on him and his family. Through proactively working across several departments Liza was able to expedite the enrollment and precertification process so that there was no negative impact on the member. This type of above and beyond service really sets Liza apart as a World Class Call Center representative. It also reflects how the culture of World Class Service is spreading its way through our company, from customer service representatives to other departments for a total World Class member experience.
Liza Mountford – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
2012 Top Ten CSR Finalists Great Customer Service Stories
Distraught Husband Whose Wife had Only Days to live
“He took ownership of this situation and refused to quit until he was able to help.”
Aaron got a call late on a Friday afternoon, from a very distraught husband whose wife was in the hospital with only days to live. Her primary insurer had been cancelled for some reason and she was not able to get her medication from the pharmacy for pain. Aaron went to his manager for assistance with this call. He took ownership of this situation and refused to quit until he was able to help.
In the employee’s file he was able to see the benefits were active at the primary insurer end and the disconnect was with the secondary insurer. Aaron took it upon himself to call the secondary insurer directly, and working in partnership with them, he was able to get the benefits reinstated immediately. Aaron asked the secondary insurer to call the pharmacy immediately to get the prescription filled for the ill wife. The prescription was filled and the patient was able to finally have some relief from her pain. Her husband was extremely grateful that Aaron took charge of this and that it only took one call to have this resolved. Aaron was so very relieved to have been able to help and ease the gentleman’s anxiety, and the wife’s pain; Aaron commented, “That call made my day today.”
After Aaron ensured the most pressing issue was covered, he then followed up to ensure her coverage was updated with the pharmacy to prevent further stress to the family at that critical time.
Aaron McCulloch – TELUS Sourcing Solutions Inc.
Staying on the Line with the Member Until the EMT Arrived
“Allan kept her calm by talking to her and reassured her that he was there with her and would not end the call until he knew she was safe in the care of the EMTs.”
Allan Bondi received a call from a member of Detroit, Michigan. The member explained to Allan that she had an emergency. She needed medical transportation. She had called her health care doctor but had been told to call back when the doctor’s office was open. Allan could have easily explained that she called the wrong number and that we are her vision insurance carrier.
However, Allan quickly recognized that this was not a normal benefit call and his caller needed assistance. As he was looking through the member’s vision benefit screen he noticed that this group had a comment regarding transportation for members and provided a listed number to call. Allan placed the member on hold and called the number. He was placed on hold. After a minute, he checked in with the member. In a shaky voice, the member told Allan that she was having trouble breathing and her chest hurt. Allan immediately hung up with the transportation line and called 911. Allan is located in Sacramento, so he explained the situation to the Sacramento dispatcher who then provided him the number to the Detroit Police Department. After another transfer with Detroit Police Department, Allan was connected with the Detroit 911 dispatcher.
When I listened to the call I was amazed at how calm, clear and concise Allan was as he jumped these hoops and explained the situation. The Detroit dispatcher told Allan to tell the member that assistance was on the way and to loosen her clothing and provide any medication to the EMTs that arrive. Allan agreed with the dispatcher and let them know that he was once an EMT. I believe this made the dispatcher feel good about letting Allan stay on the line with the member. Allan swapped the line back to the member. While on the line it was very clear that she was under duress and scared. She even let Allan know that she was scared to have an ambulance come. Allan kept her calm by talking to her. They talked about family. The member shared with him that she is proud of her children and that her son is a wonderful high school student and her daughter is about to graduate from college. After 30 minutes the EMTs finally arrived. She was scared to open the door. Allan reassured her that he was there with her and would not end the call until he knew she was safe in the care of the EMTs. The member was then in the hands of the EMTs. CSRs are heroes to our many callers every day. This time Allan was a Super Hero.
Allan Bondi – VSP Vision Care
Urgent Need for Money to Avoid Eviction
“She started crying again and thanked me repeatedly for getting this completed for her.”
Working in a call centre you never know the situation of the customer or what you will need to do to resolve an issue. On this particular day, a customer called our call centre and reached me. This customer was extremely upset that her pension had not been unlocked and a withdrawal that she requested had not been processed. She was dissatisfied with the service of Sun Life Financial and felt that we were not living up to our brand promise. She was requesting the total amount in her Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA) to be unlocked and transferred into a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) along with a cash withdrawal. She was quoted from a previous call centre representative (CCR) that the turnaround time was 1-3 business days. When I got the call we were on day 5 of when she originally faxed in her request.
She was desperate to get this money as she could not make ends meet and may even be evicted from her apartment. She was in tears. I listened to her frustration, felt her pain and told her I would investigate and get back to her the following business day. I immediately went into action by emailing the administration team on an urgent priority in hopes to get an answer the same day. That unfortunately did not happen. The following day when I still did not hear from the administration team, I pulled a colleague over to help me review the legislation rules regarding her pension and we looked over the transfer request to make sure it would not be rejected. After we both decided that the request should be good to go, I called the admin team directly and walked them through our customer’s situation. This is not something we normally do in the call centre, but I felt this issue needed to be dealt with as soon as possible. The administration team stepped up, agreeing to backdate the inter-product transfer to pull it from a LIRA and into an RRSP. The administration team then current dated the withdrawal even though we were already past the cut-off time to process. They were impressed that I went out of my way to call them as they do not usually hear from us. I felt it was nice to put a voice to the name that I always see in emails.
I then looked over the service request and saw that that the member had called in again earlier that day and had the call escalated. She felt we were holding her money for no reason. She was tempted to even call the Ombudsman’s Office to complain about our services. When I called her, I reassured her that Sun Life Financial would never hold her money intentionally if that was not her request. I told her we processed the withdrawal that day and it would process that evening. The maximum would be 3 business days before she sees it in her account. The plan member was thrilled. She started crying again and thanked me repeatedly for getting this completed for her. She stated that I restored her faith in Sun Life Financial. She would keep her business with us, because she knew that we cared and took her request seriously. It all came together in the end. While I was on the front line helping the plan member, this was a team effort. The plan member’s urgent needs were met and we ultimately delivered on our brand promise.
Angela Proulx – Sun Life Financial
Delivering Exceptional Service to a Threatening Customer
“She had to demonstrate all the essential customer service skills to satisfy this understandably irate customer’s needs.”
Cherisse Wallace truly demonstrates a passion for serving all her customers. She continuously receives customer commendations (both verbal and written) for her dedication to satisfying customer needs.
One story in particular is most significant this year as the customer was threatening to end all relationships with Scotiabank Trinidad and Tobago, based on the poor customer service received to date from the organization. Cherisse was not at all disheartened by the customer’s threats and simply focused on delivering the very best solution to resolve her concern within the shortest possible time frame.
The customer had previously provided Scotiabank with instructions to issue a cheque payment to a competitor credit card. The customer however, received a call from the competitor bank advising late fees and additional interest charges will accrue on the credit card account due to non-payment of account. Of course, once Cherisse answered the phone she had to demonstrate all the essential customer service skills to satisfy this understandably irate customer’s needs.
Cherisse did not just deliver exceptional service; she far exceeded the customer’s expectations. She first contacted the mid office at Scotiabank and checked on the status of the cheque. She kept the customer informed of any significant development in the process. Consequently, she was able to obtain full resolution of the issue on the same day she received the call. Cherisse created a positive, memorable customer experience and she successfully changed the customer’s perception of the service provided by the organization. The customer took the time to write to the centre following her interaction with Cherisse to ensure management were made aware of the service provided by this outstanding employee. Cherisse was promoted in May 2012 due to her consistent delivery of superior customer service as confirmed by her World Class certification for the second consecutive year!!!!
Cherisse Wallace – Scotiabank International Trinidad and Tobago
Empathy for a Family Brings Them Financial Relief
“Her interaction with me completely changed her thoughts on the integrity of insurance companies.”
Last year I was a CCR struggling with my Voice of the Customer (VoC) results. This year, I far exceeded the score required to be world class certified. It was in that evolution that I grew to understand both the impact I can have on my callers, and the fierce sense of pride that comes with doing right by them.
One day I received what seemed, at first, to be a clear cut request from a member for the balance of a particular spending account. That’s how simply it had started but certainly wasn’t how it ended. She mentioned she had incurred some very costly expenses and was hoping to have most of it covered by her spending account. When I asked who the expenses were for, she matter-of-factly explained that they were for her son but because of his age he was no longer a dependent on her plan. With that, I hoped I would find a healthy balance in her account. Unfortunately, it was quite low. Before I relayed this information however, I probed for the nature of the expenses that had been incurred. Based on the expenses she named, I started to wonder if perhaps her son might actually qualify as an over-age dependent on her plan if he met the criteria required to be considered disabled. If that happened, at least a portion of these expenses could be reimbursed.
I was eager at the possibility but also a little nervous about prying into such a sensitive matter. I knew that this possibility could potentially relieve a huge financial burden for the family. That potential was definitely worth my relatively inconsequential moment of discomfort. So, with care, I asked. She easily offered the fact that yes her son had special needs for his ongoing care, at which point I explained why I was compelled to ask. Her reaction was one of cautious excitement and gratitude to me for taking such an interest on their behalf. I assured her that I was only too happy to help. On the inside, I just felt such empathy for this family and a growing pride in the role I was playing as this issue unfolded.
I explained the next steps and upon realizing that we didn’t have her employer phone number on file, I asked my customer to give me a moment as I searched Google, where I was able to find the phone number we needed. I then conferenced the employer into the call and explained my reason for calling. Rather than waiting for the mail, I also suggested that the required forms be faxed directly to us so that we could expedite reprocessing of the claim. Even at that point I don’t think I really appreciated the impact of the actions I had taken in this call. Then, I heard it from my caller. She told me what this meant to her family and that her interaction with me and my company completely changed her thoughts on the integrity of insurance companies. She couldn’t believe that we would actually look for a way to pay towards her son’s expenses. I guess I had never looked at it that way before but I came to understand the powerful message that was sent through my actions. That call stuck with me and will always serve as a reminder of the difference I can make in the lives of my callers.
Craig Shantz – Sun Life Financial
Customer Preparing for Retirement Provides Suggestions for FCR
“Due to this, the TELUS Sourcing Solutions’ client will be making some changes to improve call resolution for all their customers who phone in for this same reason.”
Jordon received a call from a customer preparing for retirement. This customer had called in 3 times previously but still needed guidance with the retirement forms. Jordon was very patient and calm throughout the call; she took the time to give step by step instructions to the caller and ensured that the instructions were clearly understood by the caller. Jordon followed up via email with the customer. She also engaged the client Benefits team to make sure the forms were correct and confirmed that they had been received. The caller was very appreciative of Jordon for taking the time to help address all of the caller’s concerns. The caller had some suggestions on how to make the process easier for retirees and Jordon in turn sent those suggestions to her manager who passed them on as well. Due to this, the TELUS Sourcing Solutions’ client will be making some changes to improve call resolution for all their customers who phone in for this same reason. The customer was very happy to have finally received the answers she needed and that she will no longer have to call us back to follow up.
Jordon Lowe – TELUS Sourcing Solutions Inc.
Working Through the Night to Complete an Urgent Request
“Much team work, communication and outside the box thinking was required in order to successfully complete this urgent request.”
On July 22, 2012 at 9pm, Richard Cloutier received a call from the Director of Business Care for Rogers regarding an ongoing issue which required support for one of our corporate clients. Their incoming call centre had lost all service and was unable to receive calls from their customers.
Working closely with other departments, Richard determined the new types of plans the client required and quickly created a new account. He then manually activated all 65 wireless phone numbers, SIM cards and devices enabling the client to resume business using our wireless network. This work ended nearly 5 hours later and Richard worked through the night until 4:00am. Here is the client feedback on Richard’s efforts:
As a member of the (Client) team, I want to thank you very, very much for turning 65 cell phones and activations around in under 5 hours! This is greatly appreciated by us and we are thrilled with the can do attitude of everyone at Rogers. Your ability to step up and get us everything we asked for during this time of urgency is truly above and beyond! Warmest thanks.
Richard, ever so humble, has said that much team work, communication and outside the box thinking was required in order to successfully complete this urgent request. Richard’s hard work and commitment to his clients is second to none which is why he is often regularly called into these critical client situations where his expertise, experience and customer focus are most needed. On behalf of all the clients that you have supported, especially when we are faced with emergencies and need your help, thank you, Richard!
Richard Cloutier – Rogers Enterprise Service Delivery
Restoring the Business / Client Relationship
“You truly exemplified the kind of service that one should expect when paying for services.”
This nomination for Rokhaya came directly from one of her customers:
The reason why I am submitting this letter is because I would like to commend you for your outstanding customer service. You demonstrated the utmost professionalism, care and diligence when trouble shooting issues that I was experiencing with my mobile account. During the months of May through July, I had an ongoing issue with the voicemail service, which I subscribe to from Rogers Tele-communications. I contacted Rogers on several occasions regarding this matter and each time I spoke with a different customer service representative. Even though I was told that the problem was rectified, my voicemail was still was not working. Unfortunately, this went on for several days until ultimately, my file had been transferred to you.
Despite the fact that it took several weeks for my phone problems to be resolved, Rokhaya, you did continuous follow-ups with me, as well as, you provided me with a direct line to you, in case I had any concerns in the process. You were always very apologetic for the delay in resolving the problems with my phone service, unlike some of the other staff I dealt with during this issue. You truly exemplified the kind of service that one should expect when paying for services. As a business owner myself and as a patron of Rogers, I see the importance of quality customer service whether it is being provided or being received; it is something that makes for a rich and valuable experience between businesses and clients.
Once again, I would like to sincerely thank you for your excellent customer service. I am certain you hear many complaints about the service provided by Rogers and it is equally important to hear positive feedback from customers. Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions.
Rokhaya Gueye – Rogers Enterprise Service Assurance
Family of 6 Stranded After Hitting a Deer
“She was proactive in finding out what would be easiest for the customer, but also not cost the corporation a lot of money.”
Last year Tracy did not achieve World Class Certification, but because of her dedication to be more customer service oriented and more focused on resolving customer issues, she has achieved World Class this year. One particularly dramatic customer service story is indicative of her enthusiasm for doing as much for a customer as she possibly can.
Working on a Sunday afternoon, Tracy got a call from a customer who had been on his way home from vacation with his wife and four children in their minivan. The night before, they hit a deer on a highway and caused so much damage that their vehicle was no longer drivable. With no available credit and only $50 in his pocket, the customer couldn’t afford to get a motel for the night and had to sleep, all six of them, in the van in the tow yard. They called to make their insurance claim the next morning and got Tracy.
She found out that the family lived about 280 km from where they had their accident and the town that they were in had only one car rental agency. She knew right away that it wasn’t going to be a straightforward call and would take a little leg work. Without any money in their pocket, Tracy started to research how to get all six family members home. She was proactive in finding out what would be easiest for the customer, but also not cost the corporation a lot of money.
She tried the towing company first. If they could tow the vehicle and bring the whole family, that would be the best option, but the tow truck could only take four passengers in the cab of the tow truck. Next she tried the rental agency: they had only one vehicle left in their lot which could hold only five people. She thought if they took the rental car, the last person could take the bus home, and therefore she looked up the bus fare on the internet (thinking that the customer still had some money in his pocket and could use that and get reimbursed). However, the bus fare was just over $50 and there was no way to directly bill. And even if that had been an option, the vehicle towing was still an issue. The customer was insistent that his vehicle was not a write-off.
Tracy knew that she would have to get manager approval for any plan she put forward to the customer, but instead of simply transferring this call to a manager to deal with, she took on the challenge. She decided to call the towing company and rental agency to get some dollar figures so they could make the best decision. During their conversation, the tow driver explained that while he could take some family members in the tow truck, his wife would be willing drive the rest of the family in her car. Tracy negotiated how much they would be paid for this service and then called the rental company to find out how much they would charge for the rental and the out-of-town drop-off fee. While she did all of her research, she called the customer back to make sure he knew that she was still working on it and that she had not forgotten about him.
By the time she presented the options to the manager for approval, Tracy had done all of the research and care so that it was easy for the manager to make a sound decision for the corporation, but more importantly, for the customer and his family. Tracy took extraordinary steps to ensure that this was a positive customer experience for this family. This call started out as a dramatic no-win situation for this family, but luckily for them, Tracy took the extra time and attention to help this family get back on track and feel like their insurance company had their best interests in mind. Way to go, Tracy!
Tracy Hall – Insurance Corporation of BC (Claims)
Emergency Credit Limit Increase Calms a Frantic Mother
“I plead the customer’s worthy cause of an emergency limit increase.”
Ever since I was young, I was taught that you either do things right, or you do not do them at all because the things we do define us and our success. I am always willing to help those around me because they are integral to my own development. This is why I am committed to finding solutions to the problems that I am faced with and I make the effort to make each interaction a memorable one.
One day I had the opportunity to help a customer with a problem that she did not know how to solve. She said, “I hope you can help me because I do not know what to do. My son, who is living in Spain, is relying on you to help him so he can eat dinner and is not kicked out of the place he is staying.” I told her that I was eager to help and proceeded to verify her information. As I was verifying her information she told me that the card her son was using to try and buy a book with was not working and that this card was the only means he had to buy his necessities. After carefully listening to her needs and looking into what was happening, I was able to see that there were no funds available on the card. Upon hearing this, she became even more anxious and asked desperately, “Now what am I and my son supposed to do? I can go and put money on his card; however, it will not be available for him today and it will be the middle of the night for him when the money is available to him where he is.” I asked her if she could hold and notified her that I would do my best to resolve her issue so that her son would be alright and able to sleep in his bed.
I plead the customer’s worthy cause for an emergency limit increase. It was authorized and I returned to the phone with the news that the card could now be used. The customer was overjoyed because Scotiabank and its CSRs cared about her situation and placed so much trust in her. She concluded that:
Nobody in my 56 years has looked after me and helped me the way you have, Alesandro. Goodbye and bless you. I am very proud to be a part of Scotiabank, I am proud to be a customer and proud to know that people like you are the ones looking after my interests. Words are not enough to describe you, but I do know that you are genuine and someone who tries to excel at what they do. You deserve the best. Now I know I will always have somebody to go to if I have problem, your service is incomparable.
In cases like this, I feel like a doctor and that the solutions to the financial problems of my patients (clients) are in my hands. They can only achieve the definitive solutions to their financial needs by offering efficient, truthful and timely service. I know I have achieved what the customers expect by listening to how satisfied they are after I have looked after them.
Alesandro Valenzuela – Scotiabank International (Dominican Republic)
2011 CSR of the Year Great Customer Service Story
Going the Extra Distance for Surgeons’ Cell Phone Needs
“It isn’t often that one comes across a person who simply shines at their job.”
I would like to take this opportunity to tell Rogers what a fabulous employee they have in Danny Sipchand. Working for the Department of Surgery at a university as a Finance Assistant, it falls to me to order surgeons’ cell phones, deal with billing issues, have travel packages put on for their trips, and make certain they are getting good value. Cell phones are a vital part of a surgeon’s practice, as they serve as pagers, schedulers and phones. Situations truly can be life or death, especially if a surgeon is on call. They rely on their phones more than most professionals do. This makes them very demanding customers, as dependability is crucial for them. I regularly deal with cell phone carriers on behalf of almost ninety surgeons. They have iPhones, Blackberrys, and Androids. This doesn’t make it easy to service their needs as no two are alike.
Since I have had Danny Sipchand as my dedicated Rogers rep, I have found that the stress of handling all these accounts has gone. He constantly surprises me by going the extra distance, whether it is to review an account’s history to see if the most cost efficient package is in place, give recommendations on the most appropriate travel package based on usage for that account, or handle any issues that might arise, Danny consistently, eagerly, and most pleasantly, meets and exceeds my expectations. I have yet to have Danny disappoint. This in itself is incredible, as I’ve had many, many issues with Rogers’ representatives over the past three years. It is only since I’ve worked with Danny that I have become a huge Rogers’ fan and I can honestly say that the credit for this goes directly to him. It isn’t often that one comes across a person who simply shines at their job. His enthusiasm for his job shows each and every time I contact him. I actually do boast to people who have corporate accounts with various cell phone carriers that no one could be luckier than I am with my rep. I’m not easy to please, as I am expected to provide excellent service to my many demanding surgeons. If they aren’t happy, I’m not happy! And we are all extremely happy with Danny Sipchand.
Recently I asked Danny about an account that was corporate, but not one of the university’s accounts. One of my surgeons was moving from one corporate account over to another corporate account. Although I knew I was asking something of him that was out of his area, he not only assisted, he orchestrated the move so that the account was moved with no hassle, no problems, no glitches and no worries. This is so typical of what I have come to expect from Danny. He thinks outside the box and genuinely tries to help with any situation. I told my own manager that we could use more people like Danny in our department! I might add that I have recently switched my personal cell phone from another carrier to Rogers. This is something I wouldn’t have considered in the past. However, dealing with Danny has convinced me that this is a company I can trust, with employees who care. I no longer dread having to contact Rogers regarding a problem or a change I need made. I look forward to Danny’s cheerful reply and I know that I am in good hands!
Danny Sipchand – Rogers Enterprise Service Delivery
2011 Top Ten CSR Finalists Great Customer Service Stories
Persistance Restores Needy Member’s Health Coverage
“It was the right thing to do.”
As Bob Salisbury’s supervisor, I am honored to share a story about Bob’s dedication to exceptional customer experience. This experience touched many customers; a plan member, medical providers and government agencies. Most of those involved are completely unaware of the special customer care Bob provided.
A plan member called with a simple question about her medical insurance. Initially, there was nothing unusual about the call. Bob reviewed the member’s account and realized, due to a change in eligibility, she no longer had health insurance coverage. Since this customer did not request any additional information, Bob’s only duty was to inform her that she was no longer covered by our plan. Instead, Bob went one-step further; he reviewed the customer’s information and realized that because of the loss in coverage, she was liable for thousands of dollars in pending, unpaid medical bills. Bob’s continued persistence revealed several communication challenges with this particular special needs plan member. This member is blind, suffers from short-term memory loss due to a fall and has very limited financial resources. Most importantly, she had recently lost her support system due to a family death. Bob understood this member needed assistance due to her fragile state. He placed calls and shared important information with local senior and government resources. As a result, the member met at her home with local agencies that could help. An error that was discovered during the meeting, resulted in two government agencies working together to reinstate the member’s insurance coverage. In the meantime, Bob diligently monitored the member’s account to make sure her medical bills and claims were reprocessed and to eliminate her financial liability. He attempted to contact her several times during this period but, unfortunately, she lost her telephone service and could not be reached. To this day, the member is completely unaware of the exceptional customer service Bob provided. Nevertheless, his efforts behind the scenes to coordinate assistance resources ensured proper claims processing, resolved her coverage eligibility and saved her a significant amount of money. His efforts also ensured she had much needed health coverage.
Bob doesn’t feel what he did was extraordinary, he feels he just did his job. His efforts weren’t for recognition or appreciation. He simply provided outstanding customer service because as he said, "it was the right thing to do."
Robert Salisbury – Blue Cross of Idaho
Getting Urgent Antibiotics to Member in Peru
“I did not give up.”
I recently had the opportunity to assist one of our members who had travelled to Peru and needed urgent care services. The member needed antibiotics, which under normal situations wouldn’t be covered when provided by an out-of-country pharmacy, but due to the urgent need, we were able to review for reimbursement. Unfortunately, the member’s pharmacy receipts were not legible, which would normally result in their claim form being returned. In an effort to prevent this delay in reimbursement and additional work on the member’s behalf, I offered to call the pharmacy in Peru to obtain the required information. To complicate matters more, the telephone number on the receipt was invalid but I did not give up. I called the Peruvian Embassy in the United States in an effort to obtain a valid telephone number for this pharmacy. After obtaining the valid phone number, and as a bilingual representative, I was able to communicate with this pharmacy via phone and email. It took several phone call conversations and email communications via their website requesting the necessary information from the pharmacist in Peru. With hard work and determination, I was finally able to get the required documentation and have the member’s reimbursement processed. The member was very surprised that the Plan would put that much effort into resolving his issue and I was happy to exceed his expectations. It’s cases like this that make me proud to be a customer service representative.
Barnney Sandoval – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont
Helping Visually-Impaired Person set up Printer Over the Phone
“I also like to believe that I helped to build her confidence.”
I’ve been a customer service agent at Brother for three years and helping a customer over the phone can sometimes be a challenge. The main challenge is in regards to the fact that we can’t see each other and the main method of communicating is through a common language. At Brother Canada, we offer support in both English and French. Occasionally, if the customer needs support in another language, and if we have an agent that can speak that specific language, we’ll go that extra step and support them in their preferred language, because we believe in going ‘over and above’ for our customers
One of the experiences I had was helping a customer that had vision problems. She needed to set up her Brother wireless printer over her home network but it was near impossible for her to do this since she needed to see the keys on the machine to set it up properly. This was quite the challenge because the customer had no way of seeing the keys that I needed to refer to or the characters she needed to enter to complete the process. So I proceeded to spend the first several minutes just getting her used to the keypad and going over the control panel with her from a tactile perspective. Within a few tries, she was able to memorize the location of certain keys and with my guidance she was able to remember some of the sequence. However, since the sequence of steps required accessing several functions, I immediately considered using shortcut keys so that she could get to the right submenu in fewer steps. It became a little tricky when we got to the network security function of the process. All customers looking to set up a wireless machine need to enter security information in regards to their wireless network. Luckily for us, the printer makes a beeping sound with every entry. So I guided her along the process by listening to the beeps required at each step. The difficulty was in trying to figure out the right number of beeps with the right function that needed to be selected. With quite a bit of perseverance we managed to figure out the right number of beeps per step. I really felt proud to have helped out our customer in such a unique situation.
I had always assumed (up until that point) that language was the main barrier to phone support, but other limitations can also be a barrier too. I didn’t want that to get in the way of helping out our customer though! I also like to believe that I helped to build her confidence by showing that there are no limitations to what someone can do if they just persevere and have a little support along the way!
Sam Wong – Brother Canada
Finding the Perfect Gift for Husband’s 50th Birthday
“I always want the collector to have a positive experience.”
Building a good relationship with Collectors has always been a practice of mine, as I always want the Collector to have a positive experience during their interaction with me until the Collector hangs up their phone.
I had a Collector who did not have access to a computer or any relative to assist her in seeing what Air Miles has to offer online. She desperately wanted to order a birthday gift for her husband who was going to celebrate his 50th birthday. I advised her we have more than 1,000 different rewards online. She said he always kept eyeing a laptop or computer, which they could not afford. She said he also loves to read books which are, again, expensive to buy. I suggested an Apple iPad so he can browse the web, send email and even read books with portability. She loved the idea but there was a slight problem. She was just short of a couple of Air Miles. She was willing to pay for the difference which I advised her that she cannot do. As a goodwill gesture I talked to a supervisor to see if I could do something for her. I had to put her on hold, spoke to the Lead Representative who was kind enough to put the needed Air Miles into the account and book it. The Collector was ecstatic! She could not stop thanking me for this extraordinary gesture. Moreover, she did not have to pay a penny. I was glad to help her find the perfect gift for her husband.
Blaise D’Mello – LoyaltyOne
Arranging to Bring Man with Broken Hip Home
“I’m 62 and I can barely move because of the pain.”
One busy Monday morning, I received a call and heard a man’s sniffle. "Thanks for calling Air Miles, Samina speaking, how may I help you?" I asked.
"Yes," he cleared his throat, covering up that he was crying. "I’ve been trying to get help for the past few days, but nothing has happened so far."
"What seems to be the problem?"
"I’m on vacation and I’ve broken my hip. I can’t get treatment here, so I want to come home. I’m sixty-two and I can barely move because of the pain," his voice trembled. "Every time I’ve called, no one would help. Please, do something! I want to come home."
"Certainly. I can book you a flight right away."
"No!" he cried. "Someone tried to book me a flight, and it was over $2000 because no Air Miles seats were available. I can’t afford that. Listen, I’m in a foreign country and I can’t help myself because of my hip. Is there anything you can do?" he asked, his voice cracking as he began to sob.
"Okay," I said soothingly. "Let me put you on hold and call your airline." I dialed the airline’s number. After twenty minutes of negotiating, I had lowered the ticket’s price to $200. I went back to the other line and gave the man the good news.
"Oh, thank you, thank you!" he exclaimed, crying again. The happiness and relief in his voice was so genuine, it made me smile myself. "Of course, no problem."
"You’re an angel," he said gratefully. "You may have saved my life!"
I had a warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach, like I’d really made a difference in his life. That part wasn’t in the job description, but that I could make a difference, meant the world to me.
Samina Rifat – LoyaltyOne
Reuniting Client with Purse Revives Happy Vacation
“A woman’s purse is her life, I’d rather lose my husband.”
While every day is an adventure, this is doubly true when you work in customer service. I received a call from a national retail store employee asking for my assistance. A purse had been found containing a Scotiabank client card and they hoped I could help my client reconnect with their belongings. After recording the employee’s contact information, I assured them I would do whatever was needed to help solve the problem and follow up with them when resolved.
I immediately left a voice mail for the client at home, but right before disconnecting, it came to my attention the real gravity of the problem: the client and store’s area codes were three provinces apart. Realizing my customer was now far from home, and without a purse, I immediately doubled my efforts. I was concerned for their well-being and knew that I would have to get creative in order to speak with them. Much to my chagrin, trying a secondary office number only confirmed my suspicions that they were, in fact, away on vacation. After pleading with the receptionist about the urgent need to get in touch with my client, they reluctantly provided me with an unlisted cell phone number. Then, as if out of a Three Stooges movie, I heard the line ring twice and my new friend, the employee at the store, answered my client’s phone which was, of course, resting comfortably in the found purse. I relayed to the receptionist my fruitless efforts in calling the cell, and asked if they knew more about where my client was vacationing and who they might be staying with.
As luck would have it, the office was small and they knew that the trip was to visit with a sister in Toronto. Unfortunately, the only information they had about the sister was a name.
My first real break appeared when I discovered that the sister’s phone number was listed on phone directory website. My client’s in-law actually answered the phone and knew about the situation intimately. A search party was out as we spoke, on the hunt for this missing purse. Gratefully, I was provided a reliable cell number. The sister answered the phone within one ring, and immediately handed the phone over to my client. I remembered overhearing a hesitant and confused voice ask, “How is Scotiabank calling you on my phone?” Understandably, my client was crying and audibly upset, so much that before I could even introduce myself my client exclaimed, “Someone stole my purse! Any charges on my cards aren’t mine! Stop them! Catch them!” Once I had a chance to reply, I calmly explained, “Your purse has been found at a store today.” After about 5 seconds of dead silence, they said, “Oh my Lord how could we have forgotten about that last store – is it still there?” So I conveyed that everything was safe and sound, in fact waiting for pick-up at the store’s service desk. I could tangibly feel the sense of relief on the other end of the line, followed by a torrent of appreciation, “A woman’s purse is her life, I’d rather lose my husband than my purse!” This was the comic relief I think we both needed, and we both shared a heartfelt laugh. My client reassured me that they were only a few minutes away from the store and were headed there now. Before I was let go they had to ask me, “Exactly how did you know to call my sister? How on earth do you even know her number?” So I proceeded to explain the comedy of errors surrounding how I managed to find where they were. My client was beyond impressed that I obviously put myself in their shoes, because as the client put it, I simply could have left a voice mail and moved on with my day. The client told me that I “completely floored them” with going further to make it right.
This type of customer experience is not entirely an everyday occurrence. It certainly left a lasting impression for the customer, and provided me the satisfaction in truly making a difference for them. Hours later I followed up with the customer on their cell phone to make sure they had reached the eye of the storm, and if there was the need to report anything lost. Wonderfully, nothing was missing and the customer could continue with their visit. After thanking them for their business, I knew that the vacation was repaired, and I would probably be an anecdote to a great story for them to tell when they returned home.
Gordon Ryan – Scotiabank
Giving Battered Mother Hope for a Better Tomorrow
“She left with her daughter with only some pocket change and a ScotiaCard.”
My goal as a Customer Service Officer is to be committed to providing World Class Care, Every Customer, Every time. I have a passion for service excellence and always do my utmost in creating memorable customer experiences.
I received a call late on a Friday night from a woman sounding panicked and out of breath. The woman was calling from a payphone in a rural area of Saskatchewan with her 2 year old daughter crying in the background. My immediate response was to reassure her that I was here to help. I learned the woman was recently new to the area and needed help but did not know where to go. She explained that she had a domestic dispute with her husband and left. I could empathize with the customer as life sometimes brings us a lot of challenges and obstacles that we need to overcome. Abused and battered, she left with her daughter with only some pocket change and a Scotiacard. I learned that the woman was married to a man who was physically abusive to the extent she could take no more. I tried not to let the situation affect me as I needed to focus on the customer and situation at hand. I comforted her and gave her reassurance that everything will be okay. I stressed that I was there for her and would remain on the line until a solution was found. They had no one. No family or loved ones that could help them in their time of need.
I searched Google and immediately looked up a local women’s shelter. I found a location only 30 minutes away. One of the customer’s immediate concerns was how she was going to get to the shelter as she feared that her husband may have emptied their joint bank account. I pulled up her account information and it was clear that her suspicions were correct. I took immediate action and recommended to my manager that we provide emergency cash due to the customer’s circumstance so she could take a taxi to the women’s shelter. I searched on Google again to see if there was a cab company that accepted Interac. Luckily, I found one and called them for an estimate of what the cost of cab fare would be from the customer’s current location to the shelter. I provided the cab company the customer’s location. The emergency cash was granted. I stayed on the line with the customer until the taxi arrived.
I proceeded to contact the women’s shelter to advise them that a woman and her 2 year old daughter would be arriving shortly. I asked the woman at the shelter if she could be so kind as to give me a quick call to confirm that they arrived safely. Forty-five minutes later, I received a call from the women’s shelter confirming that the young lady and her daughter arrived. The social worker went on to say that she wanted to express her gratitude to me for my assistance and that I had helped the woman and her daughter hope for a better future. It is times like these I realize how important my role is and the positive impact we can all make as Customer Service Officers at Scotiabank.
Mally Metlege – Scotiabank
Retrieving Passport, Cards for Distraught Traveller
“She was so relieved she started crying.”
I have rushed cards all across the world, had customers going from panic and tears to laughter and joy. I have felt the personal connections so deep that I felt like I was part of their families. I make connections and impact customer lives on a daily basis, that’s what I do and love. I would like to share with you a call that I took recently that stands out to me.
As the call came through, I barely introduced myself before I heard a panicked and frantic voice, “It’s gone! I can’t find the cards anywhere. I can’t even find my passport! I feel like I can’t even breathe right now.” I empathized with her right away and I told her that I was going to take care of it and not to worry. She then told me that she was out of the country, traveling. I empathized with her again and knew this was going to be a unique situation.
After getting some more information, I was able to find her accounts and go over transactions with her. She told me she was on this trip alone and just separated from her husband. I could hear her sobbing. She said her mind really wasn’t where it should be. I couldn’t imagine what she was going through. I comforted her and talked to her about the separation. I then asked her if she remembered where she was last. She told me that she was in a taxi and went to pull out cash and suspects that when she was pulling out the cash her pocketbook, which had her cards in it, might have fallen out of the purse.
She then said, “I’ll never get it back. It’s gone!” Automatically I was on the computer searching for taxi contact numbers within that city. I asked the customer where the taxi dropped her off and got the exact address from her. I could still hear the panic in her voice. I comforted her and reassured her that I was going to take care of this. I asked if I could place her on hold.
The very first taxi company I called said that they just received notification that a woman’s passport and cards were left behind in a taxi. They would need the lady to describe it and come in person to get it. I asked if I could conference the customer in. I went back to the customer and told her. She said, “Oh my God! Are you serious?” It was the customer’s pocketbook! The customer was ecstatic! The place where they were holding her cards was not far from the customer. She had enough cash on her to get there. I gave her my number and told her to call me back once she got there and had her passport and cards. I wanted to make sure she was getting back what she needed. She called me back about 20 minutes later, which felt like hours to me. I couldn’t handle the anticipation of waiting to make sure she received her belongings.
When she called back she asked, “What was your name again? I can’t believe you did all that for me. Where are you from?”. She was so relieved she started crying. She told me she would never forget, not only getting her passport and cards back but the conversation we had in regards to her separation. She told me it meant a lot to her. I felt like I was talking to one of my friends at this point. She said it surprised her that I cared so much about her. I told her not to worry and that we appreciated her business and it’s helping customers like her that makes me feel proud to be a CSR. I knew from that point on she was going to be a Scotiabank customer for life.
A typical day for me is going the extra mile and delivering exceptional customer service. It’s something I strive to achieve each and every day; it’s second nature to me. This is why every day, every customer, every call, I truly feel empowered with my title as a CSR. I help my customers become financially better off by finding unique solutions to suit their everyday financial needs. As a CSR we have the power to care and create positive memorable experiences for our customers. It’s all about the experience whether it’s a basic balance inquiry, a complicated situation or an upset customer I’m up for the challenge and can’t wait to make that memorable experience for my customers.
Tricia Hann – Scotiabank
Following an Issue to its Resolution
“My customer was extremely frustrated and was trying hard to remain calm.”
When I think about my retirement I imagine a stress free time when you can enjoy yourself and take advantage of the savings you have built up during your years of working. Unfortunately, for one customer, their retirement was permanently put on hold until his funds could be released from his account.
During my first conversation with this customer I learned that he had made multiple calls to our call centre for an update on the status of his retirement package and the transfer of his funds to his personal retirement plan. My customer was extremely frustrated and was trying hard to remain calm. I could hear in his voice that he was struggling to keep everything professional. He had been pro-active ensuring that all the necessary paperwork had been forwarded so there was no delay in receiving his retirement installments. Although I do my best with every call to find resolution I knew right from the beginning it was up to me to resolve this issue to ease the burden of follow up for my customer.
My customer was previously told that we had all the necessary information to ensure that he would be receiving his monthly retirement payments. A few days later, a representative in another department called to advise him that we could not continue with the request as certain plan stipulations were not met. This delay was going to stop him from receiving his retirement installment, posing severe financial stress on him. I knew further investigation would be required before his issues could be resolved. I assured him that I would be taking ownership of his account and that there would be no more back and forth. Being an inbound call centre we typically do not provide our personal extensions however, I made an exception. I explained I would be in contact in the next couple of days with the next steps to take. There was no way I was going to transfer this man to another line or tell him someone would be in touch.
Once the call had finished, I contacted the necessary teams to find the cause for the delay and a solution for the customer. In a very short time I received a response advising that nothing could be done as the plan rules had to be followed and the member would have to wait until a specific date for us to be able to transfer his funds. I promptly called the customer to provide this update and promised him I would to monitor his account to ensure that once this date arrived, the transfer would go through. Although he was no closer to receiving his retirement income, he was pleased that I had called him back the same day and was comforted that we were aware of his situation. I was pleased to hear that he had faith in me and was feeling hopeful that resolution was getting closer.
Regrettably, for my customer, the date came and passed, and no funds were transferred. I started the necessary follow and was told that there was yet another delay which was out our control. I was dismayed that my customer was no closer to getting his money and concerned as I knew he was relying on this money to survive. With apprehension, I immediately contacted my customer with this update. Suffice to say he was not at all pleased with the latest update. He was at a loss and could not understand how this could be happening. Once again I assured him I was on top of it and would continue to find resolution.
I started making phones calls and emails on my breaks/lunches (as the queue was too busy to get time off to do it) to other areas, ensuring that I had covered every possible contact. After a great deal of persistence, I was able to get assistance from a colleague in another department and they expedited the issue by working with the customer’s former employer to facilitate the transfer.
When I think back, I know that it would have been easier for me to have provided the initial response that there was nothing we could do and leave it at that. At the time I tried to imagine myself in the customer’s shoes and if I were him I would want to know that there was someone on my side who understood and honestly wanted to help me. Following up on an issue to its resolution and building trust with the customer is something I strive to do every day. For this particular situation it was truly rewarding to find out a few days later that the member had called back to let me know how thankful he was that I helped him right to the end. He had an income again, one that he had saved all his life for. It was very rewarding to have taken the time to make the extra phone calls and different contacts to find the resolution.
Valerie Dibowski – Sun Life Financial
This Marine will Never Forget Daughter’s Eye Exam Help
“Just the act of caring enough to go that extra mile made a big difference for me today.”
Kim spoke with a member who was experiencing problems with a doctor when confirming eligibility for his daughter. During their conversation the member began to cry. While they talked, Kim learned the birth date of his twins which is often an issue with insurance claims. The member was tired and frustrated with insurance companies and doctors’ offices. Upon reviewing the account Kim determined why the doctor was having trouble confirming the daughter’s eligibility. Kim placed the caller on hold and contacted the office to give them an authorization so the member’s daughter would get her eye exam. Kim returned to the member’s call to let him know everything was resolved.
The caller felt so strongly about the service Kim provided he called back and through sobbing tears left this message:
Kim just helped me. I spent 14 years in the Marine Corps and have completed two trips to Iraq. After coming home I got in a very bad motorcycle accident and spent four months in the hospital. My twin girls were born three months premature. My wife had numerous medical conditions, from depression to chronic fatigue, blood disorder, and a few surgeries. My whole family has been in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices for the past 12 years. In my entire existence dealing with insurance companies, I never had one representative call on my behalf to a doctor’s office to fix a problem I was having. And I just wanted to say, thank you, because she did something for me that I will never forget for as long as I live. Just the act of caring enough to go that extra mile made a big difference for me today. Every day counts for me because of this debilitating pain. Today was a good day just because of that one phone call and I wanted to make sure you were aware her work ethic.
Kim Ostry – VSP Vision Care
2010 CSR of the Year Great Customer Service Story
Getting Funds Fast to Stranded Theft Victim
“Empathy, emotional connection and creative problem solving can and do go a long way.”
"Thank you for calling Scotiabank, my na—," my usual greetings were stopped in mid-sentence by convulsive weeping and incoherent words that seemed so distant. After a few seconds, the phone connection cleared up and I could make out the words, “help me!” Following my reassurances, she calmed down long enough to explain that she was calling from Thailand to report the theft of her purse. She just arrived at a hotel on the outskirts of Bangkok for a month long backpacking trip. Utter despair was palpable in her voice when she added that she was now without her bank card and without cash. As I probed empathetically for more information, the severe urgency of her situation became more evident. She didn’t carry any other debit/credit cards nor travellers cheques. Her parents did apply for a supplementary credit card with another financial institution but that bank could not deliver the card on time for her trip. Hence her ScotiaCard was literally her lifeline; without it she would be spending her first night in Thailand on the streets. The hotel owner would not give her a room without payment upfront. Nevertheless, she was allowed to use the lobby’s Wi-Fi to make a Skype call on her laptop to get the help that she desperately needed.
She had called earlier and was advised by the previous two representatives that “nothing could be done” except cancelling the card, which she declined. In fairness, my colleagues were simply following the standard operating procedures which dictated that a replacement card could be mailed by the Contact Center within five business days but to her Canadian address only. Her domicile branch could possibly courier a debit card to her in Thailand but it was a Saturday evening and the branch was closed until Monday. Out of sheer despair, the customer was calling us a third time. I owe it to the customer to be as persistent if not more in searching for a resolution. What if it was me on the other line? At first, I offered to call her family on her behalf but no answer. Her friends were also unreachable. Stranded and homeless, thousands of miles from home in a foreign country, her adventure in South East Asia was turning into a bad horror B-movie. The distortion of the Skype connection and the background Thai voices made the whole situation seem so surreal.
For my customer though, it was a very immediate reality. I then considered sending her a Western Union money transfer from her bank account to the nearest Thai Western Union office/agent. She was not aware that Scotiabank recently introduced wire transfer services and welcomed this first breakthrough with a mix of disbelief and hope. However, I knew that stringent security protocols prohibited me from performing an international wire transfer without her ScotiaCard security value which she didn’t have. Consultation with my manager confirmed that these protocols could not be overwritten. I didn’t want to come back on the phone and extinguish the first glimmer of hope that she had. This customer had no other means, she couldn’t just dial 911; I was her operator. As such, I refused the cold impossibility of her situation and renewed my commitment to help her get through this dire predicament.
I then observed that system logs revealed that the customer uses ScotiaOnline Internet Banking. Western Union money transfers can also be sent via the bank’s online services. As the customer confirmed that she could log in, her intermittent sobbing led to another moment of hope. I then assisted her to navigate to the Western Union subsection of ScotiaOnline where we were faced with a final obstacle; an additional security access code was required. Without her ScotiaCard security value, the access code cannot be reset. At this point, I was so immersed in helping this customer that I caught myself holding my breath – and yes, she knew her access code!
I then located the Western Union offices nearest to her hotel via a Google maps search. Minutes later, we completed the wire transfer together. Furthermore, I called our Bank Card Security Department to insure that the wire transfer is not blocked for verification since it was her first time using the service. After bidding the customer good luck in picking up the funds, I left a voicemail for her parents with an update on the situation.
Hours later, after what seemed an eternity, the customer called me on my extension to confirm that she got the funds and could pay for her hotel room. The customer was as ecstatic as I was relieved. In a tearful and emotional expression of appreciation, she told me that she will never forget the help that she received. My colleagues, who were avidly following the call, were also delighted. It was very gratifying to hear that my resolution of this situation became a best practice among my peers who were able to assist stranded customers in a similar way in later calls. Empathy, emotional connection and creative problem solving can and do go a long way, literally thousands of miles.
A week later, the parents returned my voicemail and expressed their grateful thanks for assisting their stranded daughter. They were very impressed with the exceptional service that was provided by Scotiabank, a service they would not expect from their other main financial institution. As a result, they indicated that they were planning to move all of their business over to Scotiabank. Overall, I treasure this customer experience story as an inspiring and memorable illustration of World Class Care, every customer, every time and across the world.
Dalmar Godad – Scotiabank
2010 Top Ten CSR Finalists Great Customer Service Stories
Thwarting Suicide with Patience, Perseverance
“My life has no meaning; I want to end my life.”
Working in a call center is an adventure. When you start your day, you never know what to expect. That’s what makes it special and interesting. You never get bored because each call is unique.
One day, I received a call from this man in his 60’s who called to place a cheque order. He had a hard time providing me with his banking information, so I was not able to access his file. He was confused and emotional. In order to respect his dignity, I kindly asked him to take his time and read all the numbers at the bottom of his cheques. Suddenly, he burst into tears and told me that he lost his wife in death a few months ago and he wanted to commit suicide. At first I didn’t know what to say. I was in shock. I empathized with him, told him how difficult it must be to lose a loved one in death, but I reassured him that life goes on. I tried to comfort him the best I could, but he kept saying, "My life has no meaning, I want to end my life."
While I was talking to him, I tried to find the SOS Suicide number so that a professional would assist him. It took me 1 hour and 20 minutes to reason with him. Finally, he agreed to call for help. He placed his cheque order and I was able to end the call. Immediately when he hung up the phone, I called the SOS Suicide in order to make sure he gets help. The next day he called to thank me for saving his life and for my excellent service, kindness and patience. He appreciated my listening ear. He insisted to have my full name and address to send me a thank you gift. I thanked him for his generosity and also explained that the only thing that really mattered was that he was getting the help and support he needed and the gift was not necessary.
What I’ve come to learn from this experience is that in customer service we definitely need to be helpful and take the extra step to enhance the level of customer satisfaction. We also need to be patient, active listeners who show empathy while viewing each call as special and unique.
Catherine Ngo Ngom – Davis + Henderson
Reversing Bill, Pointing Family to Support Group
“After wiping the tears from my eyes, I put a smile into my voice and became an advocate for this family.”
So often we try to alter circumstances to suit ourselves, instead of letting them alter us, which is what they are meant to do."
– Author unknown
On a normal Tuesday morning I answered a call with a very upset man on the line. He had received a bill for almost $800.00 from an ambulance company. I had the man answer all of the verification questions which included verifying his date of birth. While on the membership screen, I noticed that the contract had not only the member, but also two children ages 6 and 4. I also have a 6 year old.
The next step for me was to ask who the patient was for the bill that he had received. When he gave me the name I was puzzled as the patient was not listed on the membership screen that I just looked at. I began to look through the history to locate the patient. The patient, listed as spouse, was removed from the contract exactly one month earlier on May 8th. In an effort to locate the claim he was calling about, I asked for the date of service on the bill.
There was silence on the other end of the line. Finally, I again asked him for the date of service. This time, after taking a deep breath, he told me that the date of service was May 9th. I explained to him that the claim was rejected because the patient was not a member on the contract on that date. With a shaky voice on the verge of tears the member stated that he was aware of that, but asked if there was anything that I could do to get the bill paid. I hear a lot of excuses, daily, as to why a claim should be paid that was rejected, but none of that prepared me for what I was about to hear.
The gentleman on the other end of my line began to plead his case to me. He told me that he had to take a business trip that would keep him away for a week; he left on May 5th. On May 9th when his son and daughter got up their mommy was still asleep. They played quietly together in their toy room until they got hungry and she still wasn’t up. His 6 year old decided to go wake mommy up for the day. When this little boy walked into his mother’s bedroom he could not get her to wake up. He was very brave and called 911 from the phone at his mother’s bedside. When the paramedics responded to the home, the boy took his 4 year old sister into the kitchen and gave her a pop tart for breakfast. The man then told me that it was discovered that his wife had passed away in her sleep that night, and based on her body temperature her death occurred May 8th. The man on my phone line tearfully told me that he provided the death certificate to his employer to remove his spouse from the medical contract. They removed his wife as of May 8th.
After wiping the tears from my eyes, I put a smile into my voice and became an advocate for this family. I contacted the employer group directly and explained the situation. After hours on the phone, I got to a supervisor who gave me permission to make an exception payment on this claim. I was able to call this man back with the good news that this bill would be paid in full.
I really felt connected to this family. I had only been back to work for 3 months after dealing with a very similar situation in my own personal life. I told this caller about my own situation to illustrate that I could relate. I gave him a list of support groups in his area and advised of my own experience with a particular support group which is a center for grieving children. I told him about my 6 year old and how remarkable he was dealing with the loss of his father because of the help that this place had provided to us. Before I closed out of this member’s account I put a follow up on my calendar.
I called the member back 30 days later to see how he was doing. The day that I did the call back to the member was a day I will never forget. He went on and on about how thankful he was for all of my help. He told me that he decided to take his children to the support group, and that he would never have known about it if I wouldn’t have gone above and beyond to give him the information. His children are getting better slowly but surely. Then he said that his wife must have made sure I was the one to answer his call that day because she would have known that I could give him the guidance to get his children and his life back on track. At that moment I realized that he also helped me to deal with my loss and I am glad that I could make a difference for him because he certainly did for me.
Amanda Fitz – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Procuring New Visa Card for Urgent Passport Need
“I could hear the relief in her voice.”
I firmly believe it is very important to be empathetic towards everyone, ‘treat other people as we would wish to be treated ourselves’ is the golden rule I practice on a daily basis. Not too long ago, I received a call from a customer. I could sense and feel that she was extremely frustrated since she could barely explain her situation. I began calming her down and assured her that I would be the one to resolve her issue. To comfort her and ensure active listening, I paraphrased and probed in order to understand and help with her situation. By giving her my complete attention and gaining her confidence, she explained her situation to me.
She and her husband were heading to the United States; she was travelling with him for a major surgery that he was going through. Sadly, he had a life threatening condition. She explained she was reluctant at first to confide in me since her husband was treated poorly already by the Canadian medical system. I empathized with her immediately seeing how I knew this was a difficult situation and wanted to help her to the best of my abilities, without adding any more grief than what she had already been through. She further elucidated that her husband required a new passport to travel down to the United States and had already submitted his Visa card number on the passport application form. However, she received a call from our Bank Card Security stating that her husband’s card was compromised and all recent transactions had been declined.
Needing this passport was essential, and their Visa cards had to work while in the United States, so I immediately knew I needed to think outside the box. I noticed that Passport Canada had not placed the charge just yet, so I called Passport Canada and requested to speak with a supervisor, I explained everything in detail and we were assured that the passport would be rushed on a 24 hour urgent time-frame. Looking at the delicacy of the situation and wanting to ensure everything was done properly, I obtained the reference numbers and contact information for her and I also assured her that her husband’s new credit card would be rushed to their destination. The whole time, I tried to relate to her situation. Everything will be just fine for them is how I reassured myself. Furthermore, to ensure everything would go smoothly for their trip, I got the compromised hold removed so both of them could make full use of their cards and I updated the notes to reflect they were travelling. I advised her of our convenient Global ATM Alliance, and gave her my availability, my extension and informed her we were accessible 24/7. When I showed her the benefits she had through her Gold Card, she thanked me and stated that she did not even think about the insurance coverage she may have needed.
At the end of the call when I asked her if I was able to get everything resolved to her full satisfaction; I could hear the relief in her voice, full of tears, she was very grateful for my efforts and said, “I don’t know how I can thank you enough but, God Bless You in every tough situation and may He always look over you.” I was proud of how the call ended and it truly made my day!
I always reflect back to this opportunity I had to go above and beyond, and bring this to every one of my calls. I feel I did something good for someone who needed me, and I continue to be there for all of my customers, knowing the impact I can have by doing so. When you have a willing and helpful attitude it truly reflects in your efforts. By being nominated, I truly feel rewarded by my customers, my peers and my employer. With their input and guidance, I have been able to develop the behaviours that allow me to grow, not only in my career, but also as a person.
Sabeen Sheikh – Scotiabank
Delivering on a Promise by Arranging Car Rental
“The owner of the car was very upset in that her son was injured and her car could no longer be driven.”
I recently took the report of a claim from a mother who was the owner of the vehicle. Her son, a new driver, was injured in a crash. It was not his fault. Unfortunately, this is the only vehicle in this house and the mother had a planned appointment that she couldn’t afford to miss the next day. The problem was the car could no longer be driven. In our job, we usually only hear from people when they’ve had a stressful or negative event in their life. In this case, the owner of the car was very upset in that her son was injured and her car could no longer be driven.
Despite the growth of public transit and commuting alternatives, it’s been my experience that we are still a ‘car society’. People rely on their cars to carry many of their day to day functions. I try to never forget that when I deal with people on the phone.
This situation was exacerbated by the injury to her son, meaning she would need to get him to medical appointments as well as dealing with all the other things going on in her busy life. After taking the time to speak to the mother about her son and to assure her that everything would be well taken care of, I asked her to hold for a couple of minutes while I arranged for a rental car. I called the rental car agency myself and made sure they knew how important it was for this woman to have her car at a very specific time the next day. She was appreciative of my efforts, but did take the time to tell me a couple of times how important it was that she had the rental car the next day with no glitches. I told her I understood and assured it would be taken care of. I also made arrangements for her son to meet with one of our adjusters who deals with injury claims and again assured her that all would be okay.
The next morning, I came in to work early. I phoned the rental car agency to double check on the availability of the rental car. I was assured that the car was available and while I was on the line with the company, I was advised that the customer, the woman I was dealing with the day before, had just arrived and was extremely happy that the car was there and ready to go. I was then able to get on with the rest of my day.
In our business, we sell people a promise. In exchange for an average premium of approximately $1,000, we provide our customers with the promise that if something should happen, and they need us, we’ll be there for them. At the call center, we get to deliver on that promise every day, but it’s important that we remember that we usually only get one chance to deliver on this promise. I know that people lead very busy lives and that’s why I like to resolve their issues the first time they call and hopefully with them only having to call us once. This isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s good business!! We live in a competitive world and we want to make sure that our customers stay with us. In this case, I’m sure that the mother I dealt with will keep her business with ICBC. I’m sure her son will make the same decision when it comes time for him to buy and insure his own car. It’s my hope that they will tell their family and friends of the service they received and how their insurance company delivered on their promise.
Ivan Jehangir – Insurance Corporation of BC (Claims Division)
Preventing Power Cut to Woman in Winter
“The utility company argued that they were owed multiple months of payments.”
A few months ago, I received a frantic call from a customer who was worried that her hydro was going to be cut off in 5 days if she did not pay a huge electric bill. It was winter and the worst time of the year for something like this to happen. After listening to her situation and reassuring her that I would do my best to help her resolve her issue, she was able to calm down. Through asking clarifying questions regarding her circumstance, we were able to identify what the underlying issue was.
This customer was on the brink of having her power cut by her utility company due to unpaid bills and had a substantial balance owing. The utility company argued that they were owed multiple months of payments. She was given a 5 day period by her hydro company to get her accounts up to date or face power disconnection. She had moved a while back and said that she had made all of the required payments and had even called the bank on several previous occasions regarding the same matter and was upset each time because we could not help her with investigating or recalling the payments. The past payments being made to the utility company were being made from her spouse’s ScotiaCard and the account was solely in his name. Then, she went on to explain that her husband is a fisherman and is out of reach for weeks or months at a time.
During my time with this customer, I was able to review her list of past bill payments and payees. I identified that she had been making her payments on time, but they were made on an outdated account number at her old residence. We had a very hard time investigating the payments with the utility company directly. They were not helpful or willing to co-operate because the account was not in her name. After numerous calls between this customer and I, she was able to reach her husband while he was out of town. We then placed a conference call with the manager of the accounts receivable department with the utility company. They were willing to refrain from disconnecting her power if Scotiabank provided a written letter stating that payments were made by the customer to the incorrect account. I created an urgent case to send to Reviewapp and through the next several days, we were able to track, recall and transfer the payments to the correct account at the utility company. Through my negotiation with the utility company, they agreed to reverse the late fees, adjusted her balance and returned her account to good standing.
This customer was relieved and very complimentary of my efforts to go the extra mile to not only contact and deal with the manager at the utility company but also to finally resolve her issue. She was grateful because she said that without my help, she would have had her power cut off and faced hundreds of dollars in extra fees and charges. She was very thankful and appreciative of my extra effort and ownership in resolving her issue.
I always try to put myself in the shoes of our customers. I try to treat others as how would I like to be treated. This customer’s appreciation, and the peace of mind knowing that I resolved this extensive ordeal, inspires me to keep providing excellent customer service. It has also inspired my fellow team members to go that extra mile as well. I believe that this customer will not forget this experience and I am happy that I was able to reinforce our mantra of 'Every Customer, Every Time.'
Shant Demirjian – Scotiabank
Building Bookings for Thanksgiving Reunion
“The call ended on a positive note in spite of all the obstacles we faced.”
Building lasting memories and loyalty – here is a simple but powerful rule: Always give people more than what they expect! As a cancer survivor, I have learned life is fragile and to live my life as if every moment was my last. During my treatment the staff at the cancer center provided me hope, support, motivation and compassion. Having personally received such high quality care and service, it became evident that it was all about customer service.
Being a Travel Specialist covers two important things – caring and job knowledge. People want to know and feel that you care about them enough to help them and this resonates within me every day. Each call I receive is an important connection. It is an opportunity to demonstrate my understanding of the ethos of the company.
I received a call from a Collector who wanted to make a flight booking for her daughter for a long awaited Thanksgiving family reunion. I could hear the importance and excitement of this occasion in her voice. It should have been a simple reservation. However, after several attempts, all availability was sold out even after trying various other options. Feeling upset, irate and highly dissatisfied with our Program, the Collector stressed Air Miles never works for her. This experience compounded her belief of Air Miles. She asked, “What am I going to do now? I was depending on my Air Miles to get my daughter home for our family reunion?” Sensing the underlying despondency and despair, I knew she was ready to hang up. If she did, we would lose a valuable Collector.
I took ownership asking the Collector to give me the liberty of trying something rarely ever offered, building a flight. I would build separate bookings and it would be slightly more expensive but it would get her daughter home for her long awaited Thanksgiving reunion. I created an itinerary with two separate bookings; my Collector was relieved and ecstatic that she was able to use her Air Miles. The call ended on a positive note in spite of all the obstacles we faced.
I was extremely satisfied and proud to have provided truly exceptional service and an everlasting impression with our Collector. We fulfilled our Customer Service promise to help Collectors’ redeem their Air Miles keeping in mind the spirit of our corporate vision and goals. The successful resolution created renewed enthusiasm and passion to the Air Miles brand and retained a loyal Collector. Being part of the ‘All Stars’ team, with a positive attitude and passion for my job, I strive to assist and motivate my peers by allowing them to ‘double jack’ with me on a regular basis. We discuss the call and I provide tips and suggestions. I have received positive feedback from my leader and peers acknowledging that the sessions have improved their overall performance which, in turn, motivates them to perform at their best. We can all be true leaders in our roles by making a difference every day, one call at a time.
Nazreen Abdulla – Loyalty One – The Air Miles Group
Calm Response Avoids Customer Defection
“The customer was ecstatic with Chris’s level or concern.”
I had the pleasure of speaking with one of our tenured Rogers customers who was very impressed by Chris. The customer admitted that he had doubts that Rogers would address his concerns and was so frustrated that he was considering canceling his Rogers services. He wanted me to know that Chris helped to save a customer that day. After speaking with the customer, I reviewed the call so that I could hear what specifically Chris had done that really made a difference for this customer.
When Chris first introduced himself, the customer was so upset he could barely speak. “I want to cancel all of my services,” the customer shouted. In his usual calm tone, Chris responded pleasantly and offered to see what he could do to help the customer. He also asked for permission to look into the overall situation for the client. It appeared that the customer had a credit balance on an old canceled account that had been written off; it was a small amount, under twenty five dollars. After Chris reviewed these details and received confirmation that this was why he was looking to cancel his current active services with us, he was able to get the customer to explain that it wasn’t the amount of money that was the issue, it was the principle of the situation.
Chris listened and acknowledged the customer’s concerns and feelings and also assured him that it was not our intention to offend him or to not provide him with a viable solution to his problem. Chris went on to emphasize that the customer was not overdrawn. Chris advised that he would get him his money back immediately. To prevent further frustration, Chris researched the situation without placing the customer on hold. He quickly realized what was causing the confusion and how he could resolve this for the customer. Since the credit balance on the account was minimal, it was removed and Chris sent a request to our Customer Support and Investigation Team to have the funds returned to the customer’s account. Chris sent the request promptly without missing a step and advised the customer that the credit balance would be refunded within seventy-two hours. Chris told the customer the steps he had taken to resolve his concerns and advised him that he would personally be following up on his account to make sure it was finalized. The customer was very grateful and further thanked him for his prompt solution and for taking the accountability.
At this time Chris did something that neither the customer nor I expected; he offered to look up the customer’s current account and see if he had the correct services for his needs. Upon reviewing the customer’s wireless account, Chris was able to alter the customer’s services which resulted in him saving over ten dollars a month. The customer was ecstatic with Chris’s level of concern. The customer did not cancel his services and requested to speak with me, to tell me about why he felt Chris was a definite asset to the company.
Again this is just one of many stories that myself and his colleagues, have about Chris. He is seen as a leader by his teammates, he participates in our team meetings by sharing his insights on possible solutions and when he returned from last year’s SQM Summit he shared his learnings with the team. I am very fortunate to have such a leader on my team.
Christopher Ketel – Rogers National Customer Care
Guiding Woman Through Stolen Purse Trauma
“I told her she could do this and we would get through this together.”
Nothing matters more to me than assisting my client with their unique needs. A very memorable call I had was when I felt that I was playing an active and supporting role in the turmoil that was very quickly unfolding in the life of one of my customers. The call came in late in the afternoon near the end of my shift. Upon answering the call I could immediately sense the panic in the customer’s voice. She proceeded to tell me that her purse was just stolen. I could hear her struggling not to cry. Before I asked the standard authentication questions which are usually asked first I said, “Are you okay?” She stopped everything and said, “No, I feel like I am going to pass out right now.” I asked her if she could sit down to talk to me and she did. I told her to close her eyes for a moment and breathe. I told her that she could do this and we would get through this together. When I told her I would stay with her as long as she needed me to, it calmed her right away. She got her breathing back and when I knew she was calm, I asked her to tell me what happened.
The customer began by saying that she was in Prague in a 7-storey department store traveling with a good friend and she was leaving on the plane in the morning to go home. Her passport and all of her money, credit cards and ID were in her purse. She said she had set her purse down at her feet for only one moment to speak with someone, her hands were full of shopping bags, and when she went to pick up the purse, it was gone. She began to cry again and said she did not know what to do and security would not assist her. She said that her husband was going to be very upset if she missed her plane. I could feel my own eyes filling with tears upon hearing her cry. I could only imagine what she must be going through and the sense of panic she must be feeling at this moment. It was bad enough that she lost her purse but the contents in her purse was her lifeline. All of her funds and ID required to get home were gone.
I knew that I had to stay strong and not let the situation affect me because she needed me to focus in order to help her. I continued to console her and I told her that everything would be okay. I explained that I took many calls of the same nature and that I would help her until she no longer needed my help. I started to ask the customer a few questions and located her information. I canceled all of her cards and reassured her that no one would be able to use them. I asked the customer if she would like me to connect her with her husband and she was overwhelmed that I offered. She agreed, and I was able to provide her husband with a list of numbers to call to alert any creditors of the potential identity theft. After speaking briefly with her husband, I took his banking information and he authorized me to send a Western Union money transfer to his wife’s traveling companion since his wife had no ID. I provided the customer with contact information for the police and told her I would connect her with the Canadian Embassy in Prague to expedite the passport replacement.
When closing the call she thanked me, not in the way we thank someone for holding a door or for picking up an item we dropped, but in a way that tugs at your heart because you can feel in their voice that you truly did all you could and actually played a part in assisting someone get through an extremely unsettling experience. After leaving the call, I realized we had spoken for more than 50 minutes. I could have ended the call much sooner but felt compelled to see this customer through to the end of ‘our journey’. There will always be another call waiting and another customer that needs help, but to truly go that ‘extra mile’ gives you such a rush of immeasurable fulfillment. I told this story to my daughter to explain my late arrival home. My daughter told me that the customer needed me more than she did and she was happy that I stayed to help. It is an honour for me to be able to share this story with you … but nothing compares to experiencing these stories firsthand in my role at Scotiabank.
Wendy Mackay – Scotiabank
Outbound Call Finds Cheque For Colombian Funeral
“The desperation in my customer’s voice called for immediate resolution.”
A call was transferred to me at our Group Retirement Services Customer Care Center, from our Group Benefits Call Center. The CCR told me there was a customer on the line as well as an interpreter since the customer could not speak English. Although I could not understand what the customer was saying, I could sense in his voice he was already frustrated, likely from starting off in the wrong department coupled with the fact that English was not his first language. Within those few first seconds of the call, I could tell he was having a negative experience with the call center and Sun Life Financial as a whole. I knew it would be difficult to turn the experience into a positive one for the customer but I had to try my best. Soon I would see just how difficult this would be.
I learned that my customer’s grandmother, in Colombia, had passed away. He needed to send money to his family in Colombia to assist with the cost of the funeral. Although I could empathize with my customer, I knew I could never really understand his pain. This was going to be an emotional time for him. It turns out that a week prior, the customer requested a withdrawal from his account and asked for the cheque to be couriered. He still had not received the cheque. With the funds already being delayed, I knew I would have to do everything possible to get my customer his cheque.
With the assistance of the interpreter, I was able to assure the customer that I would get this resolved. During this exchange, the interpreter indicated that there was still a language barrier as the customer’s Spanish was also broken, but better in Spanish than in English. I was extra careful to ensure that my voice remained calm so that the customer could pick up on my confidence in resolving this issue for him. The customer had received the courier tracking number from our call center however, wasn’t able to track the cheque properly on his own. He felt completely in the dark as to where his cheque was. I was able to confirm that the tracking number that he was using was the correct one. I asked him to hold so I could personally go on the courier company’s website in order to find out where the cheque was. The website stated the cheque was in Calgary, Alberta waiting for pick up. It turns out the delivery attempt had failed. I shared this information with the customer and quickly learned that Calgary was a 3 to 4 hour drive from Brooks, Alberta where he was living.
At this time, the desperation in the customer’s voice grew and he was extremely upset. This money needed to get to Colombia as soon as possible. Normally, once the cheque is with a courier company, we would direct our customers to work with them to make arrangements to pick up the cheque. I knew this customer would be very hesitant to talk to them and he indicated he was worried that they would not have a translation service. I knew in one brief moment that I could turn this experience around for the customer.
I thought, why not conference all parties in on a phone conversation, which is something that is not normally done as we are an inbound call center. The customer was extremely grateful that I had offered to do this. So there I was on the phone with the customer, a translator and an unsuspecting customer service representative at the courier company. While on the phone with the courier company representative, we were able to determine that the cheque actually wasn’t in Calgary, Alberta but in fact in Brooks, Alberta, the customer’s home town. The representative was able to provide the correct address where the cheque was and we were able to relay this information to my customer. Immediately, I could hear the tone in the customer’s voice change from desperation to elation once he realized all was not lost. He was so pleased that he would be able to pick up his cheque that day. Although I don’t speak Spanish, I seemed to understand exactly what he was saying, just based on his emotions. He thanked me over and over again for taking the time to make the extra phone call right away.
In the end, the customer was able to get his cheque and get the money sent to Colombia for his grandmother’s funeral arrangements. Although making the outbound call to the courier company was not the conventional thing to do, the desperation in my customer’s voice called for immediate resolution. The steps that I took and the patience of the interpreter ensured that everything had worked out for the best.
Tyler Brown – Sun Life Financial
Mom with Tumor Impairing Sight gets Early Vision Care
“There were tears on both ends of the phone line.”
Sherri had a caller that needed early services. She wasn’t eligible for five months. Sherri was in the process of letting her know that an exam would be an out-of-pocket expense for her when she told her story.
She was in her 30’s. She had two young children and the one thing she loved to do is read to her children. The problem was that she was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tumor was pressing on her optic nerve and causing her eyesight to change. She was going through chemotherapy and there was hope that the tumor would shrink, but it was doubtful that it could be removed. Sherri felt terrible for her situation. Sherri is a mom and loves to read to her own kids. The thought of her not being able to spend this time with them broke her heart.
The member wouldn’t be eligible for an exam for five months, which was outside of VSP’s guidelines for approving early services. Sherri knew that she would have the support of her supervisor to make the right decision and the flexibility to do the right thing. With everything the member was had to endure, the last thing she needed to worry about was if she could get a new exam and lenses so she could read to her children. Sherri decided to go outside of VSP’s guidelines and approve new services for her. Not only could Sherri hear the smile on the other line, there were tears on both ends of the phone line. It made Sherri feel proud to work for VSP knowing that she would not receive any repercussions for doing what she knew in her heart was the right thing to do.
Sherri Murphy – VSP Vision Care
2009 CSR of the Year Great Customer Service Story
Preserving Popular Cable Channel
“The true test of customer service skills is delivering a message that is not necessarily perceived as positive.”
Working in technical support is not always an easy job however, in our center we are blessed enough to have some very tenured and talented people working for us. Day in and day out these agents are talking to customers that are frustrated in one way or another because something is not working. It takes a very special type of individual to have lasting tenure in this position. All the training and tenure could not have prepared us for a recent situation that impacted not just one of our customers, but many. A corporate decision was made to drop a channel from our cable line up that we would later discover was very popular and had a very strong and vocal support group that would eventually push us to keep their favorite channel.
As soon as the news was heard of the potential change, Valerie Gervais, one of our most senior reps (been with the company 17 years and in tech support for 10), sprung into action knowing that this decision would be difficult for some of our customers. She took it upon herself to first research the difference in programming between the channel we were dropping and the one that was replacing it. She started following the support group Blogs and Facebook and advised and updated local leadership of the issues. She ensured that her co-workers had positioning statements and understood the facts. In recognition for her outstanding commitment to our customers, she was selected by the Regional President to personally handle all call-backs for customers that had contacted her by voicemail or email. The true test of customer service skills is delivering a message that is not necessarily perceived as positive in the customer’s mind. In the end, the customer demand and the cooperation of the channel that was going to be dropped managed to reach an agreement wherein we could keep the channel… these call-backs were very satisfying!
Throughout the entire process which did go on for a couple of weeks, Valerie remained positive and focused on delivering an otherwise difficult message and in the end, had the joy of delivering very good news! She is an inspiration to work with and our customers regularly call to comment on the level of service she provides. During the time when the popular cable show was taken off the air, Valerie handled the calls in a calm, sympathetic manner and diffused customer anger.
Valerie Gervais – Rogers
2009 Top Ten CSR Finalists Great Customer Service Stories
Restoring Power to Elderly Woman
“The customer was hoping power would be restored before dark.”
As a customer service representative my job is to ensure that the customers of Scotiabank are satisfied and are able to trust the bank. Here is a story in which I was very pleased with myself and realized that as a customer representative, I can make a difference in the customer’s life. Here is how the story goes…
An elderly customer had called in very upset, she had forgotten to pay her hydro bill by the due date and therefore had just had her power cut off. She had mentioned that she lives alone and that she needs the power for medical reasons as well. This customer was very distraught and not satisfied because she did make the payment that was requested by her hydro company but when she contacted them they had mentioned they had not yet received the payment she made. I had advised her then that it does take a minimum of three business days for the merchant to receive the payment. The customer had just made the payment recently. The customer at that point was asking if there was anything that I can do to assist her to get her power back. I had advised her that the only thing I can do is contact her hydro company for her. So she gave me the phone number to the representative that she was speaking to at the hydro company, so that I can call them on behalf of the customer to explain the situation. Once the problem was brought out to the representative at the hydro company I was told that the only way they can assist the customer is if they were to receive a proof of payment from Scotiabank by fax. I also had limited time to send the fax as the representative was leaving for the day. At the end, I had faxed a proof of payment to the hydro company, after doing so I had contacted the representative at the hydro company to make sure she had received the fax and also contacted the customer to advise her of what was being done. The customer was hoping that her power would be restored before it was dark outside. The customer did not have much time before it turned dark as this was already taking place in the evening. I contacted the merchant to ensure that the customer will have her power restored the same day and was told by the representative that the power will be restored shortly. After some time I had contacted the customer to ensure her power was restored and it was.
That night I had realized how much of a difference that we as a customer service representative can make for a customer. Also, at the end of the night I was very proud of not only myself but of the title of my job. Just like many other jobs out there in this world, as customer service representatives, we too can make a difference for a customer simply over the phone.
Shalini Sivananthan – Scotiabank
Fixing Internet Disconnects
“I didn’t want to just refer him to the router manufacturer.”
If I could think of one call over the last little while that stood out, I had a customer call from Ottawa region, I would say around the spring season. I remembered this customer and the time frame because snowboarding season was coming to an end. Also because I was able to help and resolve an issue that has become more and more common with more wireless networks in the household.
The customer was uncertain why his Internet kept disconnecting while browsing and most often during YouTube streaming on his wireless laptop. As a TSC, we normally get these calls each and every day. The customer was able to follow troubleshooting very easily, so I immediately figured he had been through it all on numerous occasions and countless reps had tried to assist. I didn’t want to just refer him to the router manufacturer for further help. He had the modem replaced as suggested by another TSC. He had also updated the channel for the wireless router which still didn’t stop the Internet from disconnecting constantly. The customer had even gone to the length of reformatting and re-installing his operating system, but disconnection issues still persisted. I found out with a bit of troubleshooting and asking fact finding questions that the customer was using an external D-link wireless card which came with the D-link wireless connection software. The customer was not using the D-link software to connect wireless instead, he used the Windows XP wireless connection software. I know from my past experience, that third-party connection software sometimes enables or overrides Windows built-in software. To try to further assist the customer once and for all, I asked him to try to uninstall the D-link software just to test and see. Low and behold, it actually worked. We tried browsing to several sites for the first minute or 2 and then off to YouTube, as the customer was finding the PC was disconnecting and reconnecting more often with video streaming and on MSN.
I can honestly say, I did not do anything out of the ordinary with troubleshooting and really just wanted to figure things out for my own knowledge and experience. I also used my personal experiences as a wireless laptop user as well and just shared a bit of my experiences and frustration with wireless disconnections from home. The praise I received from this customer was very rewarding and one of those calls that you wish was surveyed. I understand as a TSC we do often get praise when issues are resolved. This customer stood out to me because he understood our policies with third-party networks and hardware. And it was just nice to receive sincere thanks from a customer who, in all of his years of being a Rogers’ customer, told me I was by far the most helpful, easy to talk to and technically inclined rep he had spoken to. The call also stood out because the customer was very calm, cooperative and technical himself. He really appreciated just a little extra time and effort in helping him resolve an issue that he was not able to resolve himself.
Ron Boranprasit – Rogers
Leading Bereaved Lady Through Health Maze
“I could hear tears in her voice.”
I received a call from an elderly woman. From the start I could tell she was flustered and stressed. She explained her husband had passed away and he had always taken care of money matters and insurance. She was not sure if she had vision, dental or even health insurance. She had been on the phone a couple of hours and was not getting anywhere. Everyone she reached gave another number to call. When she called numbers on the ID cards they told her she did not have coverage and said they could not enroll her. I could hear tears in her voice.
I let her know how sorry I was for her loss and I understood how difficult it can be. I assured her I would help her. She thanked me for listening when no one else would. Once I located her husband’s information I understood why she was having such a hard time. I explained that her husband’s employer offered many different types of coverage from different companies. Once again I assured her; together we would make sure she had the coverage her husband intended. First we went to her vision coverage and offered to enroll her. Once we got her re-enrolled, I offered to call the other insurances and conference her in on the phone line once I reached the enrollment area. I assured her I was going to stay on the phone with her as long as it took to make sure she had coverage. We started calling enrollment departments. About one hour later, she was enrolled for vision, dental (both had been canceled) and we were able to confirm who she had for health insurance. I confirmed she would be sent new cards, benefit information and doctor listings. When we had completed all the calls, I asked her if she had a clean piece of paper. I reviewed the name of each company, phone number and if enrolled, the confirmation numbers. She thanked me over and over and said “I don’t know if you believe in God. I do and I know He sent you to help me. I wish there was something I could do for you.” I said, “There is something you can do for me – have a good rest of the day.”
Lisa Meredith – VSP Vision Care
Retrieving, Returning Lost Phone
“He said his phone contained important information useful only to him.”
What comes around goes around. I received a call from a gentleman who had lost his phone. He had already reported it lost or stolen weeks prior. Upon reviewing the notes on his account, I could see that this gentleman was very concerned for the phone he had lost as he had called us multiple times to see if there was any news on its whereabouts. He said his phone contained important information that would only be useful to him; however, he was beginning to accept the fact that he was not getting his device back. It had been obvious that he had been trying really hard to get it back.
At the beginning of the call, the gentleman told me that he was from another province and that he lost his phone during a trip to Moncton. I immediately showed empathy by explaining to my customer that I truly could understand how he was feeling and that something very similar had happened to me in the past. I could relate and he could sense my wanting to help from the start.
I had not yet revealed to my customer that I was in Moncton, the same city where he lost his phone.
He knew the make, model number and serial number of his phone. He informed me that he contacted the Moncton Police Department to see if anyone had turned in his device. To his surprise and mine, he informed me that based on the phone’s make, model number, and serial number he provided, someone had in fact turned his phone in to the Moncton Police Department.
I expressed my excitement for him as I could only imagine what a relief it must have been to learn that someone was honest enough to have turned it in. However, the customer informed me that there was still no way for him to get his phone. I was puzzled.
The police department informed him that if he wanted his phone, he had to come and get it in person. There was no way that they would send him the phone through the mail as he had requested them to do. This was becoming more frustrating for him as he felt so close, yet so far away.
The customer told me that he had no money, no vehicle and no way to get back to Moncton to pick up his device, reminding me that he lived in another province. I advised him that I completely understood the situation he was in, and that I would do all that I can. I knew there had to be something more I could do. After all, I am in Moncton and work close to our local police station. This was a perfect opportunity to show him how much we care; it was my opportunity to do the right thing at right time for my customer.
With my customer’s permission, I contacted the Moncton Police Department on his behalf. I identified myself as a Rogers’ employee; I verified the make and model number of the phone and also provided the phone’s serial number. The police officer did confirm that they had my customer’s phone in their possession but even with my confirmation, they would still not send it to him by mail. Disappointed, I called my customer back and explained that the phone had to be claimed in person as a signature and identification was required.
I didn’t give up! I knew that there had to be something that I could do for him. If there was anything at all that I could do to help, I wanted to do it. I wanted this to be a defining moment and show my customer that at Rogers we will go above and beyond for our customer because we care. I contacted the police department once again regarding my customer’s phone.
This time, with their approval, and with the approval of my customer, I made arrangements with the Moncton Police to personally drop by their location that afternoon once my shift was completed. I drove to the police station, provided my personal identification, my Rogers’ security badge, I signed for the phone and the device was released to me. I kept it in safe keeping until the following day. I brought his phone with me to work and prepared the device for shipping. I shipped to the address on file through our internal mail at the Moncton office, at no charge to our customer.
I called my Customer the next morning and advised him that his phone was in the mail. He was ecstatic! He could not believe that after so many attempts someone was finally willing to go as far as I did to help. The Customer said he could not wait to tell all of his friends and family what Rogers did for him to get his phone back. He said it was the best Customer Service he had ever received, not only from Rogers, but from anywhere.
To me, this was an easy fix. I strive to provide the best customer service possible, and in this situation I could do something huge for someone else. It took as little as ten minutes out of my day to help someone who had no money, and no transportation of his own to travel the distance to obtain his device.
I called my Customer later in the week to make certain his phone had arrived safely. It had. He told me we had a Customer for LIFE.
I took complete ownership, made a keen business decision, and fulfilled our service promise.
I think it’s true what they say, what comes around goes around.
Wayne Carter – Rogers
Saving First Home Purchase
“I felt like it was my house that I was almost about to lose!”
I would like to share with you an opportunity I had to help a member purchase his first home. It was late Friday morning when I received the call. The gentleman on the phone sounded distraught as he inquired about the status of his withdrawal request for the purchase of a principle residence. This was his first time buying a home and unfortunately, he had been late submitting his withdrawal request.
I advised him that the withdrawal had been processed and a cheque had been sent out via Canada Post. Canada Post has a 7 to 10 days delivery standard. To add to the problem, for this specific group plan, all cheques are first sent to the employer and they in turn send the cheques to the bank. The gentleman burst into tears as he advised me that he was going to lose his offer on the home if the bank did not receive this money today. He told me how embarrassed he felt and was worried about how disappointed his wife would be. He was really hoping that getting his money out would be the least of his worries when it came to the process of buying a new house.
I was willing to do everything and anything in my power to help this member and make this man’s moment of buying a first-time home a positive and memorable experience. At this point I realized that we had exhausted most of our options. It was too late to request the money to be direct deposited to his bank account, too late to have the cheque sent by courier, since the cheque was already sent and no way to guarantee that the bank would receive the cheque today. I asked if I could place the member on hold and then ideas started running through my head. I thought to myself: “What if the bank would accept a letter that I formulated explaining the situation and all the details of the withdrawal?” This seemed like it might be our last hope, so I took the member off hold and explained to him what my idea was. The member suddenly got excited, and so did I in thinking that this plan might work and we both figured it was at least worth a shot. I explained to the member that I would need to give him a call back after I consulted with my Supervisor to ensure that this was possible. The member was very grateful and assured me that he was very appreciative of my time and effort to assist him.
Immediately after that call I suggested the idea to my Supervisor. My suggestion was approved! During my lunch break I typed and re-typed the letter ensuring it was sufficient and professional enough to send. I called the member and as the phone was ringing, my heart was racing. I felt so involved and caught up in the situation that I felt like it was my house that I was almost about to lose! The member answered the phone and sounded just as excited to hear the news that my idea had been approved. I asked him if he had a fax machine and he told me that he didn’t, but that I could fax it to the Human Resources Department where he worked because they were aware of the situation. I let the member go once again; faxed off the letter to the number he provided me and then attempted to call the member back, three times. I wasn’t able to get a hold of him. I was starting to get a little worried as we were really pressed for time, so I thought to myself, “what if I try calling the Human Resources representative who I had faxed the letter to?” Luckily, the member had given me his business number, so I called it and asked to speak to the H.R. contact. Success! She assured me that she had received the letter and had already faxed it to the bank.
It was soon approaching the end of my work day and I still hadn’t heard from the gentleman I had been dealing with. On my last break of the day I quickly gave him another call back and got his voicemail and just explained that everything had been transmitted to the H.R. contact successfully and wished him the best of luck. I left for the day and literally wondered all weekend whether or not my attempt to assist this member had actually paid off.
When I arrived at work the following Monday morning, I had a voicemail. It was from the member. He sounded so excited as he asked me to give him a call back as soon as I could. Without hesitation, I called him back right away. He went on to thank me graciously. It turns out that the bank gave him an extension on his closing date until the end of the service standard quoted in my letter. He wasn’t going to lose the offer! He was so impressed and so grateful that I had been willing to go above and beyond to help a complete stranger. He started to get emotional again, except this time they were tears of relief and happiness rather than tears of despair. Being able to change this stressful situation into a positive experience for a Sun Life plan member makes me proud to be a Customer Service Representative.
Ashley Hanlon – Sun Life Financial
Making the Lingo Understandable
“While I was going through her claims history she started to weep.”
Have you ever asked your doctor to explain his diagnosis and he starts using 26 letter words that have six syllables? You’re trying to listen to his recommendation however, that 26 letter six syllable word can’t make you think straight. Your hearing has turned off and your mind starts making its own interpretation of “Chickamasitis” and how it’s going to affect your life.
As a Sun Life CCR, my job description lists several duties but making sense of my industry and the service we offer to our clients is my top priority. When the average person thinks about insurance, the usual reaction is confusion, despair and often a sinking sense of dread. This reaction however, is quite understandable considering only a select few such as financial advisors, brokers and insurance specialists actually understand the contract lingo. These people account for maybe 10% of the population.
What I do is simple; I make a not so easy topic understandable and manageable to everyday people like you and me. I remember taking this call as though it was yesterday…
“Good afternoon, may I have your policy and member ID number?”
“Ummm, I’m not sure what that is and my English is not that good”
“That’s okay, I can understand you, you are doing a good job. Do you have a card that you show the drug store when you pick up your prescriptions?”
“Yes, the numbers are… I got a letter in the mail about my claim and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do…”
This lady just came from the Philippines and didn’t speak very much English. She had been submitting massage claims for four months consecutively with no reimbursements being made. In order to have her expenses reimbursed, she needed to submit a doctor’s referral to substantiate her claim. While I was going through her claims history she started to weep. I asked her why she was weeping. She told me for four months she couldn’t even get past giving the representative her contract information. She would get discouraged and would hang up midway through the conversation because she didn’t know how to communicate what it was she was looking for. I took my time and used simple words that she would understand and could make sense of. If she didn’t understand what I was saying, I would give an example or speak a little more slowly until the member was confident and grasped what I was explaining to her. I provided the member with the option to fax the missing doctor’s note to speed up the process of having the claims re-processed. I assured her once I received the faxed information, I would handle her adjustment with my prompt attention.
After 20 minutes of clarifying, educating and casual conversing, my task was completed. The member now knew why four months’ worth of claims were not reimbursed, that a doctor referral is required every 12 months, and most of all she was given confidence within herself and her ability to effectively communicate with language barriers and all.
The conversation ended by the member expressing her deepest gratitude to me for taking my time and being patient with her. In return, I expressed the following, “that’s what I’m here to do; make it simple and easy. It’s been my pleasure assisting you today, and just to let you know your English is better then you think it is!” We both chuckled and wished each other a great day.
You can provide the best service ever. I mean, have the most pleasant conversation, be the nicest person around and say all the right things but, if the person you are trying to help doesn’t understand what you’re are doing for them or recommending, did you really help the person out?
My mission in performing World Class Service is making it simple and understandable. It is what it is, it isn’t what it isn’t and don’t make it what it’s not, which is hard.
Lauren Brown – Sun Life Financial
Recovering Card, Cash from ABM
“I could feel the tension and sense of urgency through the phone.”
Providing outstanding customer service to Scotiabank clients is something I do on each and every call. Being from the East Coast, going above and beyond is in my blood. Discussing finances can be a stressful situation for many people and with my friendly and empathic service style I try to make customers feel comfortable to really discuss their banking needs. It is their money after all, and I know they work hard for it! I offer products that would be suited for each customer and I happily discuss all of the benefits to show how they can be financially better off.
I have sent emergency Visa cards to customers in different countries around the world and have ensured customers’ calls are resolved by staying on the line with them to direct them to the nearest branch in unfamiliar cities.
Sometimes though, a call comes through that makes me feel extremely proud to be a Customer Service Officer. A couple of months ago, I received a call from a gentleman who was trying to use a Scotiabank ABM in a parkade in downtown Toronto. Before he even spoke, I could feel the tension and the sense of urgency through the phone. I knew right away that this was a customer I needed to help, no matter what the situation.
The customer was on his way to a very important business meeting and had used his Visa to complete a cash advance at our ABM. The ABM had pulled his card into the machine and did not dispense any cash. Typically, there are only a few reasons as to why a card would be pulled into a machine. Unfortunately, the customer’s Visa card was from another bank so I was not privy to that information. I was unable to check to see if the card could have been reported lost or stolen, if it had any blocks, or if there could be some other reason for this to happen.
Some representatives might have ended their call right here explaining to the customer that he would have to call his own bank. However, hearing the sense of panic in his voice, I just couldn’t do that with this gentleman. To him, I was Scotiabank and that ABM was mine and I should be able to fix the problem. He did not care which bank his card was from. He needed a solution and he expected that solution to come from me. To eliminate the possibility that there could have been a problem with his account we called his bank together to check on the status of his Visa. There was nothing wrong with the Visa and to make matters worse, the customer had no other form of payment with him.
At this point, the customer was understandably frustrated and upset and was very resistant to my questioning; he just wanted the situation fixed. He was so upset that he couldn’t even tell me which ABM he was using. I told him that I completely understood why he was upset but I was going to help him no matter what. By showing him my understanding of the situation and by assuring him I could help, he began to calm down enough that I could ask questions to determine his location. While talking to him, I was frantically searching through our ABM locator to find out where he was. There are hundreds of ABMs in Toronto, so I knew that finding this location would be a challenge! After only a couple of tries, I found the right ABM! The customer was impressed that I was able to track it down so quickly!
I had to help this customer! As there was nothing wrong with his Visa account, my next step was to call our ABM support. I called and gave them the address of the ABM and they advised me it was currently showing as offline. I explained the situation and they advised they could send a technician to open the ABM to retrieve his card. Finally we had a solution! I couldn’t thank the person from ABM support enough and went back to my customer with the good news. As I was explaining that there would be a technician arriving to retrieve his card and to fix the ABM, the gentleman interrupted me to tell me someone had just arrived! I stayed with him on the line to make sure he had his card and was able to get the money he needed to pay for parking and get to his meeting on time!
The gentleman was extremely grateful and was very impressed that I remained so calm, recognized the urgency of the situation, and got it fixed quickly. He said that he had never gotten such service from his own bank and was going to bring all of his business over to us, all because of the experience he had with me! I told him it was my pleasure to help him and to please call anytime! He then went off to his meeting. I know this gentleman will now be a Scotiabank customer for life.
Carlee Portolesi – Scotiabank
Arranging Flight for Dying Man’s Family
“This simple confirmation call turned into a tearful exchange.”
In the thousands of connections I have made over the past six months, there is a special one that stands out because it so closely mirrors my own life.
It began as an irate email regarding a missing E-ticket for a flight that was to leave the next day. Putting on my detective cap, I could understand the root of the confusion. There had been multiple schedule changes with the reservation and the Collector still had the original itinerary.
Now, I don’t work in the Reservation Change Group and I haven’t been trained on how to read the ‘algebra’ that internal booking systems call language but I didn’t feel that this was the time to use the pre-written form letter that we have for schedule change situations. When it comes to emotional escalations, sometimes a personal touch is just what the doctor ordered.
Instead, I went to the airline’s website, used their confirmation code to view the reservation and then composed an email explaining the instructions for the Collector. Understanding that this reservation was for who I’ll call, ‘mama bear and her three cubs’, I followed this email up with a phone call. After all, the flight was the following day and I’m a ‘mama bear’ myself.
As it turns out, this simple confirmation call turned into a tearful exchange. I discovered that the Collector and her children were traveling across the country to say goodbye to her terminally ill father. Having lost my own father recently, I could completely understand where she was coming from. We formed an immediate bond. Like old friends, I was able to offer some consolation and kind words to help her along her journey – both literally and figuratively. I told her that she may never be able to get over it but that she would get through it. The conversation was empowering for me as well as it helped me move closer towards acceptance of my own situation.
To my surprise, a few days later I got a reply of thanks from the Collector. She let me know that thanks to me, her family was able to say their goodbyes.
I treasure this memory greatly. It’s immensely gratifying to know that I made a difference to this individual and her family. We spend so much time at our workplaces that I’ve long used the approach that my colleagues and our Collectors are extended family and this was no exception.
To provide added value to our Collectors going forward, I promptly shared with the team how easy it is to look up reservations on the websites of our various airline suppliers. It has now become a best practice in my group to give our Collectors the option to contact our Reservation Change Group or view their itinerary on-line directly.
Christina Hall – LoyaltyOne – The Airmiles Group
Resolving Claim Creates ‘WOW’ Factor
“At this moment I began to hear relief in his voice.”
Delivering the ‘WOW’ factor is an element that I strive to achieve each day as a CSP. One recent call on 10/6/09 made that a reality.
A member was very upset because his claim was denied because of the pre-existing waiting period. He informed me that he had previous coverage, did not have the Certificate of Coverage letters and did not want to jump through hoops to get the letters. He stated he was advised earlier that he needed to get these letters himself or he could appeal our ruling of the denial of the claim. I looked at this being a moment that could change this member’s perspective of BCBSNC and turn a service failure into a positive, memorable experience. He stated that we did not care about him as a member! This statement immediately allowed me to view this conversation from the member’s perspective. No one wants to think they are not cared about.
Now was my moment to produce the ‘WOW’ factor. I assured him that he was a valued member and in addition to caring about his concerns, I would do everything possible to resolve his issue. I acknowledged the facility claim paid and the professional claim denied. I also advised this occurred due to the diagnosis codes being different. Then, I asked him questions regarding his previous coverage and told him I would contact the carriers directly to obtain the information that was needed in order to process his claims. At this moment I began to hear relief in his voice. He was not sure about the previous carriers he had. He gave me a few names of other previous carriers. At that point, he could have given 10 carriers and I would have called each and every one in order to have a satisfied member.
While on the line with the member, he asked about payment for claims with a date of service of 6/19/09 in the amounts of $300.00 and $160.00. These claims were not in our Siebel, ITFI or Blue Squared systems. I advised if he could obtain additional information from the provider, I could assist further. He contacted the provider on a second line and I gave him questions to ask the provider, such as when were the claims filed, did they file to their local plan, did they receive rejection or acknowledgment? The provider stated she had filed claims on 6/22/09 and 7/1/09 and had not received a rejection notice. The provider had not received any acknowledgement from her local BCBS and she was going to submit the claims again. The member verified his current insurance information with the provider and an error was discovered. He was most appreciative that I took the additional time to allow him to call his provider to resolve the issue of the two claims.
In order to prevent the member from remaining on the line while I contacted the other carriers, I advised him I would follow-up once I had received his prior coverage information. I called and received information from his previous carriers via their automated systems and requested fax confirmations of the member’s coverage. I called the member on 10/8/09 and advised the pre-existing waiting period had been removed and the claim was being sent for processing and to allow 30 days for a resolution and I would follow-up with another call. Thanks to our claims department, this claim actually posted on 10/19/09 and the member was called. He was advised his claim had been re-processed and his member responsibility was a $40 copay. Again, the member was advised the pre-existing waiting period had been removed from his policy. At this point, the member was elated. He was so thankful that his claim had been processed and in such a timely fashion. He was not expecting my call for 30 days and BCBSNC exceeded his expectations and called within 9 business days. This situation turned from a very dissatisfied to very satisfied member just by dialing a few numbers. Sometimes, the little things a CSP can do means a lot to our member.
Freda Lockhart – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina
Pointing New Widow to Savings
“Sometimes, it is just a matter of taking that extra moment and listening.”
To me, Customer Care is more than money and sales. To me, it is where your relationship as a company begins with its most important commodity, MY CUSTOMER!
One day I received a call from a wonderful lady from Toronto. She has been a Rogers’ customer since Rogers Cable first started providing television services in the early 70’s. Her husband had recently passed away and she was calling in very upset that she needed to cancel her cable service. She could no longer afford her cable on her single retirement income or pension. Well, being a Torontonian myself, I know that in that city, there are certain things you just don’t do. Many times, you look for someone to accompany you when you are out after dark. For example, her television is more than just something to flick on and see what is happening in the world before going to bed. To MY CUSTOMER, her television is her company, her friend, the break in the silence. I took a look at my customer’s account and saw that she had never had a promotion on the account since as far back as I could see. I asked her to please be patient with me and that I was going to see if there was something I could do instead of disconnecting her cable. I asked her to hold and I made a quick call to one of my peers to see what we could do for her. They were able to place a remarkable campaign on her account based on her loyalty, tenure with Rogers and great payment record.
I went back on the line with my customer and advised her on what I was able to do so she could keep her entertainment, her bit of company and she was delighted. She had not asked me to look at her account, just that she could not afford cable any longer. She appreciated the fact that I went outside the box. I can only imagine losing your life partner and everything you know has to change because your financial situation too has changed. At this point, I could feel that the customer really trusted me and knew that she was in good hands.
Since my customer appreciated that I went above and beyond for her. I asked her if she would not mind discussing her phone bill with me. She now placed me on hold and went to get her phone bill. We went over what she was being charged in detail. I pointed out to her that I could switch her phone. Where she was paying approximately $75.00 (because she made a few calls to the 905 area code which is long distance from where she was), I could set her up on a much better plan for less money a month, free installation and her number would still be in the book. She would also have 500 minutes of free long distance every month which would cover the calls that she was making that she was currently being charged per minute for.
With the savings to her cable and by switching her phone over, she was now basically getting her phone and cable for just slightly more than she was paying for cable. My customer decided to have a home phone installed and I promised her that I would follow-up with her after the installation to make sure everything was okay.
A week later I called her and she was so thankful. Thankful I had taken the time to listen, thankful to have cable and home phone and being able to afford both, thankful that I had taken the time.
Sometimes, it is very easy to get lost in the sea of calls that we take each day. Sometimes, it is just a matter of taking that extra moment, taking a look and listening. Sure it helped that I could talk to her about living in Toronto, and that the cooler weather was approaching and I wanted her to be able to keep her TV, for comfort. At the end of the day, she thought that nice lady from Rogers was so nice and helpful and kept her word by calling back. That is probably why she will remain a loyal Rogers’ customer.
Laura Antle – Rogers
2008 CSR of the Year Great Customer Service Story
Making a Difference
“More than just a phone call”
“There is one specific call that makes me proud of being a Customer Service Representative and this call will forever be in my heart as I knew I made a difference in someone else’s life.
The caller was the daughter of a member who recently passed away. She was very distraught and she sounded fragile when speaking of her father. Upon hearing of his passing I first gave my condolences and then heard her start to cry. I kindly asked her how I could help and she explained how she had mailed in her father’s claims over the last three months and was having difficulty getting the claims approved even after making three previous calls. She mentioned that if she ‘reached a dead end’ she would have to absorb the very costly hospital and equipment bills that her father incurred while terminally ill. I immediately told her that I would try my best to find a resolution to her issue.
While pulling up the claims I noticed that the previous service requests indicated the policy had ended and because 90 days had passed, the claims would not be approved. With previous experience and knowledge of our policies and procedures, I knew that when someone passes away, there is no 90 day limit required once the plan has ended and all medical expenses would still be eligible. I then obtained approval for rush request to process the claims. When getting back to the caller, I told her that I was sorry that she had not received the closure and resolution that she deserved and that I would have the situation resolved within 24 to 48 hours. She immediately sounded relieved and I knew that I changed her perception of this company. She then asked to speak to my supervisor and said that I was kind and empathetic and that I had helped her more than most.
Through compassion, heart and knowledge, I was able to make a member’s daughter feel welcomed and valued by the company. By providing a world class experience that made her life easier, she was able to get back to what’s most important, family and the memory of her father.”
Derek Tutton – Sun Life Group Benefits
2008 Top Ten CSR Finalists of Great Customer Stories
Booking a First Flight
“About two weeks ago, I helped a customer who wanted to book her first flight. I explained to her that the only way to arrange for travel is through a Travel Specialist, and that flights are based on availability at time of booking. She let me know her intended dates and route.
A few questions were asked about extra costs and I was happy to explain these details to her. As we were chatting, I pulled up the availability. She was very pleased with the options I provided her with. We proceeded to book the flight with lots of laughter and conversation in between. At the end of the call, I asked the standard resolution question and she took the opportunity to tell me that she appreciated my patience. She went as far as to say that my customer service skills were excellent and that she was very pleased with my efficiency. I thanked her ‘times 10′ with a big smile on my face.
I love calls like this! They keep me going through my day. It also helps me to realize that I am doing my job the best way I know how. As customers learn from me, I also learn a great deal from them. Once you get talking to a customer, they provide you with many travel tips and give you an insight into their lives. All in all, a great customer experience makes for an efficient and happy work environment.”
LaToya Simpson – Air Miles Reward Program
An Elderly Couple Call
“They couldn’t thank me enough”
“I was speaking with an elderly couple who had me on a speaker phone so that I could communicate with both of them at once. They had called to book a flight from Comox to Toronto so that they could visit their first great grandchild.
I proceeded to ask them relevant questions so that I could understand and meet all of their needs. I couldn’t find availability out of Comox, so I suggested Nanaimo as an alternate departure point since it is very close to Comox. The couple was not aware that commercial airlines flew out of this airport!
After finding availability, I asked them if they were ready to book. With the change in itinerary and departure point, the couple was hesitant to book without speaking with their family. I offered to hold while they called their family, but they didn’t have a cell phone. So that they would feel comfortable prior to committing to a booking, I offered to contact the family myself and go over the details. I contacted the family and completed the booking after finding that everything was satisfactory. The couple couldn’t thank me enough for my patience and the extra effort I put into making sure that their trip would turn out perfectly.”
Lorraine Tomaino – Air Miles Reward Program
Overcoming Travel Fears
“She appreciated my empathy”
“An elderly woman called to book a non-stop flight from Vancouver to Puerto Vallarata and a car rental in Victoria. All of the available options involved changing plans and terminals. During our conversation, I learned that her husband had passed away, and that her children didn’t think that their mum could travel alone since she found walking distances a challenge. She was very hesitant to book.
I assured her that by requesting wheel chair assistance, she would have peace of mind knowing that she would not be alone in a foreign airport. She didn’t realize that the service was free of charge. This information made her feel more confident about traveling. She wanted to prove to her children that she COULD DO IT!
There was a car rental company that had a phenomenal cash rate. I seized the opportunity to make the cash reservation for her, and ordered gift certificates to cover the cost rather than making a car rental redemption which would have been more costly. She was grateful that I saved her almost 50%. She said that she felt as if I was looking out for her best interests.
She really appreciated that I empathized with her regarding her travel anxiety and that I went out of the way to save on her costs.”
Tahira Shahab – Air Miles Reward Program
Building Lifetime Customers
“Time and personalized service work”
“As an example of the customer representative’s commitment to building customers for life, the following story will illustrate how the customer representative does what it takes to deepen relationships with customers.
The customer representative, from our Customer Relationship Contact Center, received a call from a customer inquiring about her account. However, the account was in the customer’s husband’s name who died in 2001. The customer representative politely explained to the customer that she would have to transfer the account into her own name before conducting any other activity on the account.
At this point, our customer explained that she was unable to drive and that she had no one to take her to the store to fill out the necessary applications. The customer needed the account transferred as soon as possible, as she had automatic transactions being posted to the account on a regular basis that she needed to take care of. Recognizing a valuable opportunity to help our customer out, the customer representative went above and beyond the call of duty, driving to the nearby city on her own time and hand delivering the required application form to the customer. The customer representative even took the time to help the customer fill out the form properly.
When an employee from our Credit Services Group called this customer to confirm that the spousal transfer has been completed on her account, the customer expressed how appreciative she was for the time and personal service that the customer representative had offered to her.”
Suzanne Laurin – Canadian Tire Financial Services
A Medical Marvel
“Recognition for above and beyond”
“The customer representative is known for his warm and caring attitude towards the members he services. He goes above and beyond to resolve a member’s issue. He’s a member advocate and he has compassion and a special concern for senior citizens and members who speak very little English. I receive numerous compliments from members stating that he is the first rep to take their time to listen to them and resolve their issue.
The customer representative serviced a call from a member who had to have a catheter removed the next day. The member only spoke Spanish and the hospital that inserted the catheter would not remove it. The customer representative made several calls conferencing the member, and acting as their interpreter to locate a provider who would remove the catheter. There was only one medical center that would remove it. This was 1.5 hours away from the member’s home. The member did not drive, she was not registered with our transport services and she could not afford to take a cab. The customer representative helped to facilitate transportation for this member. Afterwards, the member called to say what a fantastic rep he was and she wanted me to give him recognition for going above and beyond and providing excellent service. The member stated ‘this was the best customer service experience I ever had!’ The customer representative received an award for providing excellent customer service.”
Pedro Garcia – AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies
Turning Anger into Thanks
“Gaining trust to resolve their concerns”
“Among leading Telecommunication Services companies, our company provides the best customer service. Our 24/7 call center offers flexibility for our customers for reaching us at any time and from anywhere. Our customer service policy is designed with our customers and business in mind. Although we strive to do our best and help out each and every customer, some customers feel as if they have not been taken care of properly and are dissatisfied. The company’s support policy concerning overdue accounts is that the customer cannot receive our services until we receive the payment in full. Last year, I received a call in the evening from a lady. She was a mother of three and was going to school part time to complete her PhD. Because of her tight budget and busy schedule she was not able to make her payments for our services. As a result, her cable, internet and home phone services had been disconnected. The customer called using a payphone across the street from her house and had one of her children waiting outside with her.
The customer was furious because she had a project to hand in the next day which required internet access. She was frustrated since she had been transferred several times before she had reached me. In order to provide the best customer service possible we sometimes need to bend our rules in order to retain a long time loyal customer. The customer was willing to pay the bill in full, but needed to make payment arrangements with the credit operations department first. She had previously had a terrible experience speaking to an AR agent so I warm-transferred her and made a request with the agent to remove the pending non-payment. This was a huge exception they made for the customer based on her circumstances. Once this was completed, in order to activate her services I needed to speak to the technical support. When I warm-transferred the customer she did not want me to go and she asked if I could stay on the phone with her until the issue was resolved. I was more than willing to stay on the phone with her and after one hour, her services were up and running and she was very happy.
As an employee I am able to provide every customer calling into the call center with similar service. Customers trust us to be their providers for cable, internet, home phone and wireless. They call into the center, and speak to a stranger over the phone, about their problems with the services or their financial instabilities. As a customer service representative I am able to use my empowerment to make things right for the customers and the company. The company provides me with the responsibility to satisfy our customers. Our customers trust me to resolve their concerns and this makes me very proud to be a Customer Service Representative.”
Arpitha D’Souza – Rogers Communications
Dealing with Frustration
“Understanding needs and solutions”
The story begins when our customer decided to change his price plan on his existing wireless account. A simple request! After waiting on the phone for over 15 minutes a customer service agent answered his call. Sadly the customer was obliged to repeat his request multiple times due to the fact that the agent did not seem to understand his request. Finally the customer service agent decided to transfer the customer. Thankfully he got to speak to the customer representative right away! The customer wanted to reduce his monthly invoices as he could no longer afford to pay $175 per month. The customer representative understood the customer’s request and was quickly able to turn the situation around. She was able to diffuse the situation and calm the customer down. She took the time to effectively analyze his invoice and offered the customer the best option based on his needs. She was so professional and caring in her approach that the customer took the time to write a letter of appreciation:
I would like to commend your professionalism during our difficult telephone conversation; you have managed to keep me on the phone and avoided my departure to a competitor. I hope the president realizes you have saved the day for your company!
The customer representative is consistent in her approach with our customers. She practices and preaches great customer service philosophies daily. She always listens to understand the root cause of her customer’s concerns. This enables the customer representative to discover and guide the conversation to a mutually satisfactory resolution. The customer representative lets her customers know that she understands their point of view! She truly values the customer experience!
Silvana Padulo – Rogers Communications
Mix up Becomes Fix up
“When money is needed now”
A member of a group insurance plan was in an extremely difficult financial situation due to her illness and the recent passing of a close family member. The member had submitted a number of drug claims that totaled a very large amount, along with a void cheque to set up direct deposit so the money could be received right away. When the member called in to follow up on the claim the representative informed her that the request for direct deposit had been missed and that a cheque had been sent instead.
The member then broke down into tears because she was no longer at the address the cheque was being sent to and she would not receive the money she needed. The representative assured the member that she would do everything she could to get the money into her bank account and promised to follow up before the end of the day. On her next break the representative made a number of phone calls to different parts of the company and was able to have the cheque cancelled and the direct deposit done.
The representative called the member back and was able to tell her that the money would be in her bank account by the end of the next business day. The member was overwhelmed that a large company would care enough to try and help her. The member also said she appreciated the fact that the representative didn’t hide the fact that the company made an error and when the representative said that her situation would be acted upon as a training opportunity, she regained confidence in the company. A few weeks later the representative received a card from the member that read “You deserve a big bouquet for your kind and caring ways” which included a personal note from the member.
Debbie Bender – Sun Life Group Benefits
Seeing the Solution Clearly
“A bright spot in a time of need”
I recently had a gentleman call me about the need for replacement glasses. His family had suffered losses resulting from a very bad house fire. His wife was hospitalized with burns on her body. And, in the mix of it all, he had also lost his glasses in the fire and needed a replacement pair. He wasn’t eligible for new glasses based on his insurance coverage but I was able to make an exception and provide him with early services. I knew he needed the glasses quickly, so I helped him find a doctor’s office that had an on-site lab that was willing and able to give him an exam and make his new glasses for him right away. It was at least a ray of light in his life, which seemed to be very grim for him at the time. It felt good to be able to get him new glasses so he could travel safely to visit his wife in the hospital. That was the least I could do for all the loss and pain he’d already suffered. It was a bright spot in his life at a time of need.
Karina Fleming – VSP
Fighting Through a Hurricane
“Personal care in a crisis”
“By September 12, with winds over 100 mph, Hurricane Ike had landed near Galveston, Texas. Cutting a path 900 miles wide, it began to move across the state creating havoc in Houston. At this same time the customer, who lives near Houston, called because her lenses were cracking. Her doctor’s office was closed due to a lack of power and phones. Though the doctor had three satellite offices, they too were also out of commission because of the hurricane. Gas was rationed so driving around to find open offices was not an option. This member needed glasses and needed them badly.
The customer representative sprung into action. He understood that this unique circumstance required a special solution. He started by contacting the lab that made the original glasses and asked for help. He spoke to the lab for special handling. The lab rep walked the glasses through the lens fabrication process to get them re-made quickly and then sent them directly back to the member, overnight. While we don’t normally work with our labs without the doctor involved, the closure of the offices made this option the most viable in the interest of the customer. The member was extremely happy and grateful that this representative went the extra mile, working directly with the lab to get her glasses back quickly. The customer representative followed up with the member to ensure she received her glasses and they fully met her eyewear needs. Even Hurricane Ike could not stop this Customer Service Rep!”
Mike Jones – VSP