Celebrating Customer Service Representative Heroes
Best Practice for Celebrating Agent – Customer Service Heroes
It has been my experience recognizing Agents for resolving tough customer calls, and at the same time providing a great customer experience (CX), is one of the best practices for improving first call resolution and customer satisfaction. However, very few organizations have a formalized CX recognition program that celebrates Agent success for resolving a tough call while providing exemplary service.
At SQM, we believe the Regence BlueCross BlueShield recognition program to be a best practice for recognizing Agents for their customer service performance. Therefore, the vast majority of the information provided in this blog is based on Regence BlueCross BlueShield's case study submission to SQM's best practice awards program.
Regence BlueCross BlueShield's Agent recognition program is called Service Hero. Their Service Hero recognition program is their most successful and longest-running recognition program for their company. It recognizes the Agents who provide exemplary customer service and provides senior executives with great insights into CX trying to resolve complex health care calls.
Any call can be nominated to be a winning Service Hero interaction. Often calls are nominated by a leader as they listen to calls and identify situations where the Agent is truly going above and beyond.
Also, sometimes peers nominate each other, and an Agent could even nominate themselves. In some cases, the customer issue is very complex and can involve multiple conversations, and therefore the calls are edited to remove private health information. In most cases, the total call length (for one or more calls) is less than 15 minutes.
The leadership team first reviews the calls in their respective locations. Then, every quarter after vetting within each location, the best Service Hero interaction nominations are sent to the next level review.
The second level of review is held face-to-face in one of the service locations. Again, a day is set aside for the session attended by the Vice President, Director, Managers, a selection of local supervisors, and other guest leaders within the company. This group will listen to as many as 20 calls, discuss and rank each one, select the top five to seven calls, and then send them to the next level.
The final selection is made by their four business unit Plan Presidents and other senior executives. The calls are distributed on a digital device in advance of the selection meeting. The Plan Presidents and senior executives listen to the calls and rank them based on the Agents' ability to create a truly outstanding experience for their customers.
They consider tenacity in resolving issues, compassion under challenging situations, and the ability to successfully help customers understand complex information, often when customers are faced with the additional challenge of managing costs.
During these calls, the presidents often debate their logic in who they recommend as winners, which leads to great conversations around what types of experiences their customers receive and what is at the root cause of customer challenges. In some situations, these conversations result in executives taking responsibility for driving improvement change. By the end of the session, three quarterly winners are selected.
Each service location celebrates the quarterly winners during an all-employee meeting. One of the winning calls is played to allow the entire customer service team to hear an example of excellent service to inspire them to be a Service hero. The winners are recognized in front of peers with an enlarged check for five hundred dollars personally signed by their CEO and a personally engraved gold star statue.
All runner-ups who make it to the executive level receive a gold star and one hundred dollars. In addition, all quarterly winners are highlighted on their intranet site with their inspiring stories. The article includes the recorded call, which gives every employee in the company the ability to hear the call and read the article highlighting the Agent. This engages all departments to work towards enhancing the customer experience by resolving the behind-the-scene issues.
At the year's end, the twelve quarterly Service Hero winners are flown to Portland for a two-day trip. The first day shows appreciation with a fun activity day, gifts, and dinner. After that, the winners can share their successes and build a stronger comradery with different locations.
On the second day, the executive leadership team hosts a luncheon in the executive boardroom where the winners hear admiration directly from the CEO, Plan Presidents, and VPs. Before the annual event, the executive team listens to the twelve quarterly calls again to select the yearly Service Hero winner announced during the luncheon. The yearly winner is awarded four thousand dollars, and their story is showcased on their company intranet site.
Everyone is Happy!
The Regence Service Hero recognition program focuses on their customers and their employees, and it shows in their results. For example, their first call resolution and customer satisfaction performance are highest for the contact center industry. In addition, their employee satisfaction is consistently strong. In 2014, 87% of their employees stated they are extremely satisfied or satisfied with their job. If you want to be a Service Hero from SQM's perspective, you should share this blog with your CEO. Who knows, this blog might inspire them to have an excellent Service Hero program like Regence BlueCross BlueShield.