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“You can do it, believe it and reach for it….“
This story is so simple and effective yet shows how simple words of encouragement and improvement can make all the difference.
In 2016, all of my performance results were falling significantly. I was flabbergasted and devastated because I was falling short of key performance indicator targets for world class, CSR customer satisfaction and call quality. In addition, my health was also failing and the combination of stress between my health and my work performance had taken a toll. I started reporting to a new Supervisor Antonietta Perez, who took me under her wing and provided instructions on what to do to see positive gains.
Antonietta encouraged me by telling me to focus on my health and take one day at a time. We started working on all the areas one at time. I was reminded about simple processes I had forgotten and was provided guidance on how to help each customer one call at a time, remaining focused on the task at hand in providing them with world class service.
Every customer survey following my transition to Antonietta’s team was rated as World Class. As you can imagine, I was pleasantly pleased; happy that all of my results changed in front of my eyes. I earned World Class certification based on 2016 customer surveys achieving an 83% World Class rating. This seemed at one point unachievable in my eyes; totally out of my reach having only achieved a 74% World Class rating the year prior. Although I believed at first there was no way I could have made such a remarkable improvement, I forged ahead with the coaching and guidance I received from my Supervisor.
Words are simply powerful. Antonietta told me “You can do it, believe it and reach for it…” Antonietta praised me publicly and provided constructive feedback privately. Antonietta documented and tracked my improvements, asked me about my goals and held me accountable for my results.
It was with this simple formula that I achieved and succeeded and, my confidence level returned while doing my job to the best of my ability each and every day.
I’m writing this story to publicly compliment my Supervisor, Antonietta Perez, for a job well done! She’s definitely my Supervisor of the Year.
Antonietta Perez – 407 ETR
“She has been my mentor, my support, and my cheerleader.“
BCBSVT is one of the smaller Blue plans so we tend to wear many hats to get the job done. I have the pleasure of supervising a team of twenty. Fourteen team members are call center representatives and six are the department’s team leads. I help to manage the daily operations of the call center and I am our Ulysses master coach. My true passion is focusing on the growth and development of my team members. Whether it be giving guidance to a CSR to help them through a difficult call, or working with my team leads to ensure they have the tools needed to effectively coach their team members to success, it is very rewarding.
One day I was working at my desk, and I could hear one of my team member’s voices elevating from a couple of rows away. She was noticeably frustrated and it sounded as though she was losing control. I immediately got up and went over to her desk. I sat next to her and she placed her caller on hold. She looked at me and said “I’m done, I’m done, I can’t help her”. I let her know that she was not done, she could see this through. I asked her to take a couple of deep breaths and explain to me what was happening. She let me know that the member had a couple of complex issues she was trying to figure out, and was confused and frustrated. The CSR said she had repeated herself multiple times but the information wasn’t getting through. We created a game plan. I asked the CSR to first acknowledge to the customer that health insurance can be complex and confusing. This member had a lot going on and it’s important to acknowledge that their feelings are justified, we understand and are here to help. I asked her to let the customer know that we are happy to walk her through her questions and we’d like to break the issues down into two separate parts if that is okay. Once the two topics are reviewed, probe to ensure they understand, and then review the customer’s options and next steps. I gave her a quick run through on what that conversation would sound like. She took another deep breath, and got back on the line. I stayed with her while she walked the customer through what we had discussed. Nearing the end she gave me a thumbs-up and I went back to my desk. At the end of the call she came over and gave me a big hug. She thanked me for my advice and let me know she couldn’t have gotten through it without me as she had decided she was done and couldn’t help the member. This was an incredibly rewarding experience.
The CSR shared her observation on this call, “I was on a difficult call. The member was very upset. The more I tried to explain the situation the more frustrated she became. The member’s voice was rising and unfortunately so was mine. My supervisor, Janalee Willett, came over to sit next to me. I put my member on hold. She asked me to take a few deep breaths then wanted to know what was going on. I went over the scenario. She sat there with me, helped me break the problem into smaller, manageable pieces. I got back on the phone with the member. I asked if I could break each issue down separately. She agreed. Once I went over each issue separately the member understood the situation as a whole. At the end of the call the member thanked me for my patience and understanding. She understood the outcome and was so satisfied that she asks for me every time she calls in. This call was quickly turning into an unresolved call. With the help of my supervisor I turned it around. The member was completely satisfied. I could not have done it without her guidance. When I got off the phone I went over and gave Jana a great big hug – team work is a beautiful thing.”
As a Master Coach, I make it a priority to sit in on my coaches’ one-on-ones with their team members so that I can observe their interactions and offer insights on how to strengthen the coaching experience through clear communication and probing. I observed an occasion once where I heard a lead say, “Don’t worry, you did everything you could, it was just the member’s perception…” while walking a CSR through their SQM survey results. After the session concluded, I expressed my concern with hearing this type of feedback being shared with our CSRs. It is extremely important for us to resist the temptation of simply saying there is nothing we could have done. We must challenge ourselves to understand the customer perspective and think about ways to manage that expectation through our communication and process. Simply stating that there is nothing we can do leaves a CSR feeling powerless. I would much rather empower our team by thinking about how we can take our service to the next level and exceed customer expectations. Put the CSR in the driver’s seat of their learning, growth and development. Give them control of consciously thinking about how we communicate and can remove obstacles to resolution. One of my team leads shared, “There are a lot of attributes and skills a supervisor must have to be successful. They include being disciplined, constructive, considerate, and approachable, along with many others. I have been working with Jana for a little over a year and a half, and have never had a supervisor who is more supportive, available, and passionate than Jana.”
CSR Comments 1: As my supervisor, she makes me feel as though no question is dumb, and no idea is small. I feel as though a lot of my success over the past year has been learned from observing Jana as a Supervisor. Our mentor-protégé relationship has a strong impact on why I love my job so much, and I strive to be a leader as amazing as Jana Willet.
CSR Comments 2: I have never had a supervisor as dedicated, positive, and inspiring as Jana. She is always looking out for everyone’s best interest. She is constantly giving feedback to improve performance and increase self-confidence and does not end the conversation until you fully understand the feedback and have no more questions.
CSR Comments 3: Jana has impacted me as a coach; she has been my mentor, my support, and my cheerleader. Her passion and enthusiasm for what she does as a coach is very apparent and she shows it with a positive attitude and bright smile. The people around you have a huge impact on how you view your job. I feel extremely encouraged about what I do as an employee and as a coach because of the values and attributes that Jana as taught me.
2016 Team performance: Total Surveys: 1103
Calls Resolved: 94%
CSR CSAT: 93%
World Class: 86%
Janalee Willett – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
"A good leader is one who can tell another how to reach his or her potential; a great leader is one who can help another discover this potential for him or herself."
- Bo Bennett
Even before Chris stepped into the role of TL and knowing his expectations and skills as a high performing CCR, I was gearing up to do my best. Gearing up to do better than my best. From our very first meeting, the questions he asked me and what he shared about the leader he wanted to be, I knew I would be able to tell this guy where it was I wanted to go. All I had to do was trust that he would get me there. Of course, I knew I had to work hard myself and put myself out there to be available for whatever he might throw my way. I took on every opportunity he could give me, along with many others, on his team.
Chris happens to have been my third leader since I started here at Sun Life and he was the first one I had so far who delegated tasks and engaged his team with encouraging and empowering words.
Chris took me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to do bigger and better things for myself, for Sun Life, and for our clients. He allowed me free rein and encouraged my ideas to take over advising the leads and SQM results for everyone, as well as entrusted me as a functional leader within our own team. He gave me the opportunity to be a mentor in the training room with new hires, and let other leaders utilize and build my skills as a coach, and in being a visual board organizer.
Under his leadership, I had the opportunity to really stretch my skills and become a leader myself in a classroom environment where I trained all GRS Waterloo representatives in a new program that had just come into the call center (Digital Benefits Assistant). Because of the actions Chris took as a leader, I am on my way to being a leader myself and I will be a better one because of the examples he set forth.
Chris was an advocate for me and I quickly realized I was not the only one on the team he did this for. I was very impressed with how everyone appreciated his encouragement and how everyone was engaged the same way I was. We were a better team because of his leadership; we worked as a unit and communicated with each other in a way I had not seen before. I feel more prepared for what my future holds here at Sun Life. I am grateful for this experience and have been lucky enough to land in with another great leader, Lisa Parker, who before I was even under her leadership entrusted me with our new hires during a transition for the current trainer. Again, under an encouraging, open leadership style I know I will reach new career limits.
Christopher Longshaw – Sun Life Financial
“Muriel is my teacher, team leader, and the compass to my achievements.“
Muriel has been a Team Leader with Millennium1 Solutions for the last 7.5 years and is a key contributor to our achievements. Muriel has a passion to see each of her direct reports succeed and has proven her ability to develop her team members. She’s talented at partnering with agents to create individual development plans that outline the road they’ll take together to achieve their mutual goals.
Muriel builds and develops an alliance with her direct reports that create a strong foundation for her coaching conversations. Her direct reports genuinely trust her with their development. In fact, several people from Muriel’s team have been promoted to new roles within the organization in 2016, evidence of her success in developing her team and positioning them for career pathing success. This is the second year in a row that M1S has elected to nominate Muriel for the Supervisor of the Year award - we’re proud to celebrate all of her achievements again this year.
When asked to talk a bit about her approach towards coaching her direct reports, here is a summary of what Muriel shared:
I can summarize my coaching style as a blend of four special ingredients: 1) Doing the right thing the first time – and meeting the commitments I’ve made to my agents. There are times when it’s necessary to stay late or arrive early to meet with an agent. Agents who see me arrive early often arrive early for their own shift just to take the time to catch up on things they might have missed or to meet with me about something on their mind. Leading by example demonstrates my commitment to my team. 2) Confirming I understand – By confirming my understanding and acknowledging the concerns of my customers (my agents), I’m able to demonstrate my commitment to them. By making sure I understand an agent’s opportunities and learning styles I’m able to develop a coaching plan that will achieve the success we are both hungry for. 3) Confirming they understand – I provide my team with EVERY tool I have at my disposal. When I get a new tool for my toolkit I share it with every agent. Sharing best practices is key to our global success. An agent never walks away from a coaching session until we are both confident we know the path for success. 4) Finally, simply caring – Caring doesn’t start and end during a coaching session. Caring for people shows your appreciation for their efforts. I love to show I care with FOOD, and agents love the treats I prepare in my own kitchen. I’ve had agents switch shifts just so they could enjoy some of my cooking. By showing professionally and personally that I care about them, our coaching alliance is strengthened and we can achieve anything.
Out of the many team leaders on this particular program, just two achieved World Class certification. Not only was Muriel one of these two, but she was the TOP achiever. Muriel’s focus on the success of her team members is supported by the nominations from her direct reports for this award. Please see below for the nominations from some of her team members.
CSR Comments 1: I can’t express enough gratitude for the encouragement and support provided by Muriel Rafuse in my time as a CSR. I felt confident in her feedback and felt she was approachable if I needed her assistance whether it be in a call or about my schedule or indeed, any matter that came up. I feel lucky to have had her as my manager and don’t believe I would be as successful as I’ve been without her guidance. I believe she is the best possible choice for the 2016 Supervisor of the Year.
CSR Comments 2: From the start, I knew I could count on Muriel. Why? Muriel helped me adapt to a job position and call types that were new to me. We can all adapt. Yet it takes a person willing to use patience in helping us adjust to truly make us successful. Muriel was that person for me and I have no doubt for others, I am sure. Muriel is there for the needed support and will go all the way to ensure, if necessary, that any needed updates are made to published documentation. She is committed to ensuring that each agent benefits from the learnings of others. She also shares new information and feedback in a way that is balanced, making it a comfortable discussion, keeping with each agent’s personal style. In 2014 I was honored with recognition as a CSR of the Year finalist and was honored to attend the SQM CSR Appreciation Day and gala events in Idaho. I can truly thank Muriel for her support in getting me there. Muriel gives her own time to help us succeed. I have seen her start before her shift and stay later. She gives her own personal time when the work-day presents challenges that prevent her from engaging in the 1:1 activities she had planned.
“Muriel is my teacher, team leader, and the compass to my achievements.”
Muriel Rafuse – Millennium1 Solutions
“Focuses on ways to build up her teams strengths.“
Dede has been World Class certified every year since Regence joined SQM (2014). For 2016, Dede Tobin was World Class Certified at 85%. In 2016, of her 14 eligible direct reports, 8 were also certified World Class. On her team in 2016 she had 3 winners for our prestigious Service Hero Award out of a total of 12 winners from across all 4 locations and approximately 350 CSPs from all lines of business.
Dede plays an active leadership role in supporting our frequent SQM and non-resolved discussions and maintains the focus to drive relevant coaching conversations with her peers. She has also implemented processes for her direct team to sustain or improve performance goals in both CSat and call resolution.
Dede also partners with her peers to analyze trends of calls and look at ways to prevent ongoing issues, not only for coaching but also process related issues. One example was looking at our Medigap calls that had become a larger number of our unresolved/action alerts. The trend was noticed that since Regence pays if Medicare pays members. This is what our CSPs were communicating and our members were not leaving those calls satisfied with this response. As a result, Dede led the efforts from the discussion to share ways to rephrase the information to our members that instilled more confidence in our responses as well as coaching CSPs to use the Medicare website to look at coverage options and, if necessary, conference in with Medicare for a better member experience. A phone call was also shared of a CSP who was most effective with these members and helped others in the call center get better results with SQM.
Dede always focuses on ways to build up her teams strengths. She is known for her Best Call program that has continued to grow within other leadership teams. She shared this best practice and her Tada’s (kudos emails) that encourage performance by showcasing strengths and successful interactions. At times she included an edited call to highlight the story. One particular Tada Dede shared went to our CEO and was shared at a leadership summit conference and has since gone viral across the organization. Dede focuses on ways to recognize her team daily so that they not only feel valued, but also recognize the significance and importance of their work and its impact on the organization. This focus on strengths also shows a model of behavior and example for others who are striving for that excellence.
Examples of Dede’s SQM leadership focus:
Dede is driven to support her team’s success and is dedicated to putting in the time and effort to make sure it happens. She recognizes that their Tada’s, and shared successful moments drives fulfillment and value and her team members are always ready to share their examples on how much they appreciate her leadership. If you were to ask anyone on Dede’s team why they believe they are successful at their job, each and every one would say it’s because of Dede’s leadership and support.
Dede Tobin – Regence BlueCross BlueShield
“She believes in the fact that you can’t get buy-in from your team if they don’t see you living your own principles.“
I would like to nominate my manager, Prabhjot Bedi for the Supervisor of the Year award. She deserves this nomination as her team is the first team in Rogers Business Care Service to meet and achieve World Class certification. What really made the difference for her achieving certification was the dedication and passion that she brings to her role and by making a positive difference every day. The two quotes she swears by is “Walk the Talk” & Love what you do” She believes in the fact that you can’t get buy-in from your team if they don’t see you living your own principles.
Unlike previous years, this year the majority of the team contributed to the certification effort by making considerable improvements in their overall individual experience results. She ensured that her team understood not only when customers were speaking about their negative experience, but also when an experience fell short and the customer considered it just average or the employee just doing the bare minimum. It is these calls and interactions where we started down a journey of improvement.
Prabhjot always ensures that the team members feel empowered and are driving meaningful behaviors. Her team members understand that every interaction is an opportunity to build a strong relationship and is not simply just a transaction. Her side by side and group coaching examples are always real customer examples from her team members that allow for honest feedback about how that customer left the call. Often her consultants would self-discover what they missed or struggled with, and think did they really put their best foot forward? If not, what could they do differently next time, as well as to contact that customer back to make sure they know Rogers values them as a customer.
Every employee within Premium Support is encouraged to be accountable, and work as independent business owners keeping the balance in what is right for the customer and right for the business. This customer first approach has not only driven excellent FCR and resolution rates but has allowed this team to cultivate relationships and build trust that has allowed them to achieve a + 69 Net Promoter Score and to drive approximately 30% of the Small Business revenue numbers into the Business Care Wireline space. They are consistently recognized as a top performing team and Prabhjot is asked to be a role model and teach other teams on how to be successful.
CSR Comments: She has many strong points and it is difficult to choose a few, but what really hit home for me was what I observed and learnt from her: she is an excellent motivator, highly energetic, punctual, open-minded, and a smart, hard worker. She is always available when I need her and that drives me to do my best.
Prabhjot Bedi – Rogers