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