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Improve Customer and Employee Experience - One Individual at a Time
Working Together Reignites Customer Service Passion
“By listening to calls together, we discussed what could have gone better.“
When entering the 2011 SQM year, I decided to make it my year of change. I had set my goals and once I communicated them to my Supervisor, Lisa Jones, she jumped right on board. Her passion in making this commitment thrilled me. As the year progressed I began to understand that, even though the support has always been there, nothing would happen until I had made the decision to change and that was why she became so excited.
I always thought I had what it took to do my job but this year Lisa has taught me the true meaning of great customer service and so much more. I had no idea that with her faith in me I would have a whole new outlook on the meaning of Customer Service! Lisa taught me the importance of being patient, understanding and caring with every one of our customers. Through one-on-one coaching sessions, we developed the plan to facilitate the changes. By listening to calls together, we discussed what could have gone better, and with active shadowing, we were able to identify areas where improvements could be made; improvements that would impact and change a customer’s response from somewhat satisfied to very satisfied. We noticed trends in my tone of voice, habits and mannerisms that may have been contributing to my poor SQM results. What I thought as helping was sometimes not helpful at all because it seemed like I was rushing to beat the clock instead of providing quality service. Step by step, she showed me how to apply what I had learned to each and every call. We would discuss which tips I was able to incorporate and which ones I still struggled with.
At one point during the year I remember thinking “I am being picked on” and I started to take it personally. Little did I know that was not the case at all; instead I was given the opportunity to take what would be the best mentoring ever. I was being given the vital information I needed in order to see where I was improving and what areas still needed improvement. I realized that Lisa was showing me how to be patient and understanding with my members by using the same technique with me. She was teaching by doing. As I mentioned earlier, my technical skills were good however, I was rushing in order to meet my average handle time (AHT) target. At the beginning of the year I was struggling with my meeting my AHT, call monitoring and SQM targets. Lisa’s encouragement and support as I worked on these changes helped me see the bigger picture. It was quite an eye opener that, as I worked on changing my habits to ensure I was providing quality customer service, it helped with my efficiency (AHT) and overall call monitoring scores. Without even realizing it at the time, these metrics also started to improve. By listening to and focusing on the customer (and not just the business requirements as I had in the past) I was able to help them more efficiently while still making sure all their questions were answered. Not only did my SQM results improve (yes, I am World Class Certified this year), my AHT decreased and my call monitoring score improved. Lisa knew what my goals were. What really made a difference was how she approached this.
Lisa helped me to see how I could help myself. Instead of just giving me the information and walking away, she showed me how I could find ways to change and made sure I was comfortable with any new information. By doing this, I gained confidence in myself which helped me achieve the success I have had this year. I found not only did I call upon Lisa’s assistance and expertise but I depended on her as well. Not once was I let down as she was always there no matter how big or small the concern happened to be. Lisa has re-ignited my passion for customer service. Due to her time and dedication I am once again capable of providing the world class service she always believed I could.
Lisa Jones – Sun Life Financial
Never Mistake Activity for Achievement
“I have had three people on my team who recently outperformed even my expectations.“
Donald Wynant has been a Supervisor in Customer Service for just over a year. In this short amount of time he has truly lived the principle of working smarter and not just harder. In his leadership role he has proven to be an asset and inspiration to those around him by constantly finding new ways to improve our member experiences, increasing effectiveness in coaching team members and, all the while, having a little fun while doing it! He believes an engaged team is an effective team. Donald continuously challenges himself to exceed expectations and rallies his team to join him in the effort – and it shows!
A Senior Customer Service Representative said of Donald’s coaching sessions:
I always looked forward to our 45 minute bi-monthly coaching sessions as I knew it was my time to go over my performance for the week. We would review all aspects of my performance, either outstanding or areas of opportunity. Donald would always focus on the positive moments, while finding ways to improve on other areas.
In EVERY coaching, Donald would ask “What do you want to achieve here?” OR “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” My answer was always the same: I aspire to work in BSC’s Pharmacy Services area as a Pharmacy Technician. Donald would always see what he could do that would help me achieve this goal, which I loved. It made me feel like I had someone that is there and is willing to help get me to where I would like to be. Donald even scheduled a chair siding in our Pharmacy Services department; which gave me a great understanding of how that department works, and might I add, I loved it!
When asked what his proudest moment as a Supervisor has been, he was quick to share the following: “One of the things that I am most proud of is working with my direct reports to have them excel at a higher level of performance and for them to constantly be in a state of challenge. I have had 3 people on my team that recently outperformed even my expectations. One of my team members went from a level 4 performer to a level 1 performer in the course of 3 months. This was done with additional coaching sessions, chair sides and constant positive reinforcement. She has sustained at this level of performance for the last 6 months. Two other team members were recently promoted to leadership positions. Nothing brings greater satisfaction than seeing hard work come to fruition. They all earned their current recognition and I couldn’t be more pleased with their efforts.”
Adding to Donald’s success is his recent recognition for becoming a World Class Certified Supervisor. What is the secret to his success? Well, Donald makes it a priority to conduct his 1:1 coach sessions himself, with limited assistance from his Team Lead. He believes that Supervisors should adhere to their own level for FCR – as it relates to coaching. This entails making the coaching message pertinent, have impact and be challenging, the FIRST time around. He has proven to be successful in his effort.
The more genuine the interaction, the more impact the message has! At the end of the day Donald measures his success not only by his team numbers but by the perception of his team and the feedback they give him. He emulates the motto, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
Donald Wynant – Blue Shield of California
Daily Hands-On Approach Fosters FCR Excellence
“Her higher achieving agents are partnered with the lower achievers to share best practices.“
As a Call Center Supervisor, Sandra Wilson promotes and fosters FCR ‘excellence’ daily with her staff by taking a hands-on approach to her day-to-day activities. Her goal, as well as her team’s, is to resolve the Member’s issue the first time they call. Sandra routinely reviews processes to ensure they are working well and will challenge and make recommendations to change those that do not, in order to improve her FCR and Csat scores.
Sandy has changed the team’s production mindset to an FCR mindset. She stresses the importance of resolving Members’ issues, by meeting the promises made to our Members and stressing consistent follow up. While the team is still held to the production standard, the team finds the critical balance between FCR and production. Sandy effectively assists the business teams in understanding key FCR activities by modeling what is successfully applied in her department.
Sandra regularly coaches her lower achievers in an effort to drive their scores upward. She makes it practice to share every survey comment, both good and bad, to allow staff to see issues from the Member’s perspective. She explains the why and asks staff for their participation in changing behavior to increase their scores. Her higher achieving agents are partnered with the lower achievers to share best practices.
Sandra willingly shares best practices with her peers. Sandra is a participant in First Contact Communication workgroup which facilitates sharing and driving the message of FCR to Service and the call center agents. She constantly seeks ways to improve the FCR process and uses the SQM portal as a resource to gain information and drive efficiencies. Sandy participates in a weekly departmental FCR workgroup to identify gaps and opportunities at the individual level or team level. Sandy works with the group to drill down and improve upon our top callers. As a result of her participation in this work group, Sandra was responsible for the creation of our department’s escalation/repeat caller phone queue. Additionally she was a guest speaker at the Horizon Enterprise Best Practice Workgroup where she shared day-to-day tasks that need to be accomplished in order to have a full understanding of the impact of being ‘in the data’ of SQM portal.
Sandy regularly documents her tasks, her team goals and next steps. She is the department’s lead for the FCR Communication workgroup. She also is the co-lead on maintaining the SQM master list monthly. She takes an active role in all departmental FCR activities and effectively communicates with her peers, managers, and co-workers. She prioritizes and responds timely to ensure FCR goals are met. She actively participates in meetings interjecting and offering valuable insight. She continues to be driven to meet and exceed the goals of the department and enterprise. She understands here at Horizon BCBSNJ we are looking to change the culture of customer service in order to gain the Members trust that we will resolve their issue with one contact. She drives this message home to her staff daily and coaches her staff on both the positive and negative surveys so as individuals the team continues to improve.
Sandra Wilson – Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
Finding Something to Better Aid Customers
“It was sometimes hard for me to know why the call wasn’t world class.“
I would like to nominate my supervisor, Nancy Chia, for the hard work she has done, and is still doing, coaching me in every single aspect of my job. Nancy provided encouragement, support and tips on how to provide excellent customer service, tips on dealing with customers, tips on files, walk-ins, great tips on how to improve my AHT, and also how to work efficiently (time management when working on files).
Every month we go through all the SQM calls. Based on the tips I get from Nancy, I was able to improve my performance and to become a world class performer. In my one-on-one sessions, Nancy and I listen to my calls that were not world class. It was sometimes hard for me to know why the call wasn’t world class, but Nancy would always find something that I could do just that much better for my customer.
One time she noticed that the tone of my voice was very monotone, no expression at all, so she gave me a tip on how to change that. The next month, when we got together, we listened to another call and she gave me kudos for using the suggestion she had given me the prior month. When she noticed I was using the tip, she got all excited and went, “Yes, yes, yes!!” This made me feel great. Nancy always gets so excited when she is talking about our calls and how our customers feel about us. She is always coaching us, her team, so we can all excel to be world class certified reps.
Nancy is always available to me, even when she has not started work for the day. When she is here, she is here for all of us. This week I was stuck on a call (the claims history letter was giving me a company’s name) and Nancy took over the call for me. It was in the morning before the beginning of her shift! She spoke to the customer, and later she called me and explained how she had resolved the issue. Another time I had taken down some information from a customer incorrectly and I was going to have to call the customer back to get the correct information. Nancy, thinking of our customer’s experience, said that she would review the call to see if I had noted the number incorrectly, or if the customer had given me an incorrect number. She took the time to listen to the call and found that I had incorrectly written the number down. We were able to make a correction, without the customer being involved. She then coached me on the call and how to listen better for the next time.
Nancy Chia – Insurance Corporation of BC
Boiling a Complicated Process Down to a Couple of Simple Steps
“What you really can’t teach is passion.“
There are so many individual stories in which Deborah worked effectively with a specific CSR, or in a team environment, to improve our overall standing as world class call centre. Similar to the well established customer service strategy of winning over customers one at a time, the thing that stands out for me is how Deborah works with our CSRs one at a time to improve their overall performance.
Specifically, Deborah worked hard to have a positive influence on one of our young CSRs. This young man was struggling with various aspects of his job, both in terms of customer results and overall attitude. True to Deborah’s character, she addressed his issues in an honest and transparent manner. She explained to him that his performance spoke negatively to the impression he was creating both with our customers and with our leadership team. Instead of making this all about the negative, Deborah focused on specific strategies he could undertake to improve, both in terms of individual accountability and in terms of customer perception.
Using our voice of the customer metrics, Deborah was able to demonstrate how taking ownership of the reason for the customer’s call, combined with a focus on becoming an advocate for the customer within our process, was the way to improve first call resolution. Once this was taken care of, she assured him that the overall CSR CSAT measures would follow. Of course she was right.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, but Deborah was able to take a complicated process and boil it down to a couple of simple steps for him; Understand the reason for the customer’s call; Do all you can to resolve the reason for that call on the first call; When you run into obstacles, understand that your job is to be an advocate for the customer, so act accordingly. This adjuster was able to turn things around. He is performing at a high level and is now in a position where he can look at promotional opportunities. Not surprisingly, once he started performing at the world class level, he also began to take more pride in his personal accountability and his metrics improved dramatically in terms of attendance and compliance.
Although it wasn’t a surprise that Deborah was able to turn our adjuster around, what was a surprise, was her reaction when congratulated on the results of her hard work. As she talked about the work that she did with him and the results that she’d seen, there were tears in her eyes. She was so proud of him that she became very emotional. We can teach people to understand metrics, and there are many good coaches, but what you really can’t teach is passion. For Deborah to be so passionate about her job and her results with one of her staff that she was moved to tears, speaks volumes of this passion and of her character. She is truly a standout in our operation and one of the reasons why we perform at the world class level.
Deborah Aiple – Insurance Corporation of BC
Educating Callers to Other Options
“I found this helped to diffuse their disappointment.“
I would like to congratulate my Customer Care Leader, Albany Gamero, on her World Class Supervisor designation from SQM. This is a great accomplishment, one that comes with hard work and dedication as a leader and I am very happy for her.
I’ve had a very brief working relationship with Albany, as I joined on her team in July 2011 and that month I was not at World Class certification levels. On my first coaching session, I didn’t know what to expect from her. We didn’t get too far into the session for me to realize how passionate she is about her job as a Customer Care Leader. We went over all the numbers and she also looked at my previous track record for World Class and told me if I want to be nominated again I would have to step it up.
Albany asked me what I found challenging that was causing me not to maintain the average that I used to have, so I shared a few examples with her. They were all examples of when I could not get the availability of the flights that the caller needed. Albany asked if I was willing to focus on what we could do for the caller in the future, even if we could not fulfill the specific need. I told her it was worth a try.
Going forward, as soon as I had a call and I realized that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill the caller’s request, I immediately started to educate them on some of the other great options that we had available. I found that this helped to diffuse their disappointment and gave them hope for future use.
I would have to say the main thing that resonated with me during those coaching sessions was the confidence that Albany had in me; that I was capable of overcoming those challenges and that she was looking for great results. Albany said, “I have listened to a few of your calls and I am more than confident that you can do this.” So walking away from those sessions, it was no surprise when my World Class numbers increased in August and then again in September. I would like to thank Albany for the confidence she has placed in me and I wish her the very best. Congratulations Albany! Your hard work and dedication has paid off.
Albany Gamero – LoyaltyOne