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It has been my experience that recognizing customer service representatives for resolving tough customer calls, and at the same time providing great customer experience, is one of the best practices for improving first call resolution and customer satisfaction. However, very few organizations have a formalized customer representative recognition program that celebrates customer representative success for resolving a tough call while providing exemplary service. Based on SQM’s experience of benchmarking over 500 leading North American contact centers on customer experience for resolving an inquiry or problem and evaluating those companies’ customer representative recognition practices, SQM has determined Regence BlueCross BlueShield as having the best customer representative recognition program in North America which celebrates their success in resolving tough calls while providing great customer experiences. 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 customer representative recognition program is called Service Hero. Their Service Hero recognition program is their most successful and longest running recognition program. It not only recognizes the customer representatives who provide exemplary service, it also provides senior executives with great insights into customer experiences 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 customer representative is truly going above and beyond. Also, sometimes peers nominate each other, and a customer representative 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 privacy health information. In most cases, the total call length (for one or more calls) is less than 15 minutes.
The calls are first reviewed by the leadership team in their respective locations. On a quarterly basis 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. A day is set aside for the session that is 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, and select the top five to seven calls, which are then sent 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 customer representatives’ ability to create a truly outstanding experience for their customers. They consider tenacity in resolving issues, compassion in difficult situations, and the ability to successfully help customers understand complex information, often when customers are faced with the additional challenge of needing to manage 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 and 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. All quarterly winners are highlighted on their intranet site with their inspiring story. 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 customer representative. 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. The winners are able to share their successes with each other 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. Prior to the annual event, the executive team listens to the twelve quarterly calls again to select the annual Service Hero winner who is announced during the luncheon. The annual winner is awarded a prize of four thousand dollars and their story is showcased on their company intranet site.
The Regence Service Hero recognition program keeps the focus on their customers as well as on their employees and it shows in their results. For example, their first call resolution and customer satisfaction performance are among the 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. From SQM’s perspective, if you want to be a Service Hero, you should share this blog with your CEO. Who knows, this blog might inspire them to have a great Service Hero program like Regence BlueCross BlueShield.
If you liked this article, you can learn more about the author Mike Desmarais, and SQM Group.