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Power of Positive Attitude
“Earn the trust of each member.”
Kerri Jeffords is very committed to her role as a Customer Service Advocate. She has been with BlueCross and BlueShield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) for more than 11 years and her dedication and enthusiasm for her role is very strong.
Kerri puts herself in our member's shoes on each and every call which drives her to give the best service possible. She is able to empathize regardless of the situation, which has earned her many accolades from our dedicated members. Kerri is very confident in the information that she passes on to our members and can often be found assisting her peers with their calls.
Kerri is extremely knowledgeable and confident in her position, and this helps her earn the trust of each member. She understands how to relay the needed information and answer the unanswered questions to ensure the member gets everything they need. If she needs assistance, she is not afraid to reach out for help in order to meet the member's needs. She understands that we are our member advocates and it is our duty to do what is necessary to assist them as best we can.
Kerri is very receptive to feedback and actually enjoys any constructive criticism that she is given. She takes accountability and implements any feedback given to her. We have undergone many changes in our department and through it all, Kerri keeps a positive attitude.
Kerri Jeffords should be chosen to be formally recognized due to the hard work and determination that she displays on each and every interaction she has with our members. We hear, on a very regular basis, how hard Kerri works to assist our members, and they are truly grateful for her. Kerri had a World Class Call certification percentage, which is a clear demonstration of how committed she is to our members.
Kerri Jeffords – BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina
Genuine Customer Service Professional
“A winning formula.”
Sandra Wilson epitomizes the very definition of a caring, proactive, and genuine customer service professional. She is very helpful and shows great empathy when working with our members to ensure their needs are met at their initial contact with the service center. Recently, Sandra received a call from one of our members who was in the process of moving to North Carolina from another state. Moving can be stressful and the hassle of having to move boxes, furniture, and luggage and the extra baggage of moving insurance can be a chore.
Our organization received a heartfelt email from the member about Sandra’s assistance and how knowing the voice of the customer is very important, but here are the member’s words for you to read, as they speak for themselves:
My husband started a job in North Carolina last May and I am in the process of wrapping up the house sale and moving. As such, our family has two insurance coverages at the moment and I needed some specific benefit information and had questions about a couple denied claims. I was fortunate enough to have Sandra answer my call. I had a lot of questions and she answered them all. She is very knowledgeable and was able to detect problems within seconds of looking at our account. Her knowledge also allowed her to know exactly what was needed to correct the situation, and she took the time to explain to me what would happen next to resolve the issue. Through the entire conversation, Sandra listened with intent, shared her knowledge, provided tips to help me going forward, and was patient and efficient. I noticed our connection had a small delay and I ended up interrupting her twice, to which she immediately stopped talking and listened. Her utmost respect for me was extraordinary. She is a true blessing. I am so grateful for her outstanding service that I wanted to bring it to someone’s attention. With a person like Sandra on your team, you have a winning formula.
Sandra Wilson – BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina
Resolving Through Compassionate Service
“World-Class experience for the member.”
Being a Customer Service Advocate is a rewarding job. However, you never know what opportunity you will have to assist a customer when they call. One afternoon, Crystal received such a call. The member was frantic because her car had just been broken into. BlueCross was her second call after calling the police because a bag containing her medications was stolen. Crystal jumped in and resolved the issue through compassionate service.
Crystal had previous experience handling pharmacy escalations and knew the member was in desperate need of someone to help her. Crystal used her two years of experience to immediately get the process going. While on the phone, Crystal reviewed what drugs the member was prescribed, and the internal process for getting the member’s medications. While staying on the phone with the member, Crystal heard the worry in the member’s voice as she waited for the police to arrive. Crystal worked to calm and reassure the member and said she was there to assist no matter how long it took. Once the police arrived, the member had to disconnect, but Crystal told the member she would call her back.
Crystal quickly jumped into action knowing that the member had a short time to get her medication. Crystal worked with her management team to follow internal procedures to allow a temporary refill of the member’s prescription. She then researched to determine where her pharmacy was and contacted them to get the medication refilled. Crystal hit a roadblock when the pharmacist said they were not filling any more prescriptions for the night. Crystal could have easily taken the pharmacy at their word and let the member know the situation, but instead, Crystal asked to talk with the pharmacy supervisor. She explained the customer’s issue and the pharmacy filled the medication as a priority.
Crystal was able to contact the member and let her know she had resolved the issue and that the prescription was waiting for her at her pharmacy. Crystal could have resolved the issue without showing empathy or compassion, but it would not have been a world-class experience for the member. The member said:
Crystal immediately had the compassion to understand my situation and got it taken care of. Right before she went home, she called the pharmacy, and then took time to call me and tell me that my prescription would be ready.
Crystal Brown – BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
Proficiency at Its Best
“Determination to resolve issues on the first contact.”
Proficiency is defined as a high degree of competence or skill; expertise. As a Customer Service Advocate (CSA), Kathy Bledsoe displays this attribute in her interactions with peers and with internal and external customers. She consistently follows up and delivers promised actions as reflected in her inquiry timeliness and SQM stats. Kathy is driven by proficiency and always gives 100 percent.
Kathy joined the department as a temporary employee, transitioned to a permanent position as a CSA after one year, and recently converted to work-from-home status. Only the best of the best are given the opportunity and privilege to work from home. Kathy’s stellar work performance and work ethic have catapulted her into this prestigious group.
Management regularly receives kudos from customers expressing satisfaction of the exemplary service Kathy provides. She goes the extra mile for each caller with a determination to resolve issues on the first contact to satisfy the customer’s needs. Kathy is a compassionate individual who shows care and empathy towards others. She treats all customers with kid gloves and is especially patient with our senior population of Medicare recipients. She makes each member feel special like family and places herself in their shoes to experience firsthand what they may be enduring. Here’s a story shared by Kathy’s manager to exemplify Kathy’s outstanding performance:
I received a call from a member who wanted to express how helpful and patient Kathy was in helping him sort out billing and claims activities on two separate Medicare supplement policies. He seemed overwhelmed with gratitude and said Kathy’s diligence and quick actions reminded him of what good service was like ‘in his day when people mattered.’ He said we should invest in and hire more dedicated representatives like Kathy, who helped save him time and money, and most importantly gave him peace of mind.
This member moved to South Carolina from Georgia and acquired a South Carolina plan in the process. He assumed that the Georgia supplement policy would automatically cancel. Unfortunately, he did not realize that it was his responsibility to cancel the Georgia plan. He contacted our call center to seek assistance since as far as he was concerned, his coverage was now with South Carolina.
He told his story to Kathy, who listened intently to his concerns. Kathy assured him that she would be able to assist. She asked additional questions and discovered that this member had traveled back to Georgia on at least two occasions, sought medical attention there, and used the Georgia identification card in error. He began receiving explanations of benefits for services rendered in Georgia and did not understand how the allowances were estimated or how the claims would be processed.
During Kathy’s conversation with this member, she discovered that the member had been paying premiums on both policies through drafts from his checking account. Kathy was determined to turn this situation around in his favor. Kathy sensed that this member had become weary of this matter and asked the member if she could contact him within 24 business hours once her research was completed. He agreed. Kathy reached out to the Georgia plan and explained that the member was currently covered in South Carolina and that he no longer needed the Georgia plan. Based on their conversation it was confirmed that the claims incurred with Georgia were paid according to plan benefits and the premiums were collected per normal for an active policy.
The Georgia plan was within its rights to have paid and collected as it did. As an advocate for the member and determined to satisfy the customer, Kathy made the decision to retroactively cancel the South Carolina plan, since there were no claims on file. She scheduled an effective date change for a near-future date that would coincide with the cancellation date of the Georgia policy. This way there would be no break in health service, claims would pay correctly respective to state, and the member would not overpay premiums by having two active supplement plans.
Kathy phoned the member back with this information. He was elated. She explained his benefits, reviewed with him the proper South Carolina identification card to use going forward, and reached out to the Georgia plan with him on the line to ensure he granted permission to cancel the Georgia plan. The member thanked Kathy multiple times at the end of the call and asked for a member of management to relay how helpful she was in getting his concerns taking care of.
Such customer encounters resulting in positive member experiences are routine for Kathy. She takes ownership and puts forth this type of effort on each call. She is a proficient and model CSA who is well deserving of a nomination for Customer Service Advocate of the Year.
Kathy Bledsoe – BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
Grumpy Day into a Great One
“All due to one great customer service call.”
Michelle Dobson has reached World Class status for the second year in a row and last year she was a CSR of the year finalist. After her experience last year, she made it her mission to take what she learned at the SQM conference to apply to her members, and ensure those around her learned to become better. Many of her co-workers are world class this year as well, and this is a testament to Michelle’s work ethic and passing on of her knowledge. Although Michelle works from home, she ensures that all her knowledge is shared with her co-workers.
In previous years, Michelle has shared great stories where she has gone above and beyond, and this year is no different. During 2017, Michelle received a call from a member who was frustrated, who did not ask for help, but rather, started the call by stating, “I NEED HELP”. Michelle stepped right in and began to assist. The member right off the bat told Michelle she could not figure out what she was doing and was lost. Michelle already knew she was just online looking up providers in the area and said, “I see you were just looking up providers. Is that what I can help you with?” The member was astounded that Michelle already knew what she needed without her asking and stated she had been having trouble finding a doctor to treat her. Michelle went on to help her find a doctor who fit her needs.
If the story stopped there it would still be a great story, but we know Michelle, and it goes much further than that. Michelle knew the member was frustrated and asked if she wanted her to reach out and see if the provider was willing to see her and what they had available for appointments. Michelle contacted the provider and connected the member once they confirmed their availability. The member immediately called back and thanked Michelle for her great service saying that Michelle “turned her grumpy day into a great one, all due to one great customer service call.” The member stated that “she actually took the time and looked for what I needed and was so very helpful. She wanted to help me even more so than I asked for.” Michelle is a great example of a World Class Advocate.
Michelle Dobson – BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
Quality of Life in Mind
“Working on the member’s behalf.”
The experience I would like to share took place in late December of 2017 when I assisted a member with a call regarding durable medical equipment. As we started talking, I reviewed the members contact history to find that she had called in a few times that month regarding the same benefits. She had been working with a local durable medical equipment supplier and was trying to purchase a pair of diabetic shoe inserts.
I probed for more information to get to the root of the issue as to why this member was having difficulty getting her items. Once I dug a little further with the member, I found that there was a benefit on the member’s plan that would allow her to purchase the diabetic shoe inserts in 2017 with no member liability. I let her know that once the 2018 benefit year started, the diabetic shoe inserts would apply to her deductible and out of pocket resulting in a bill of around $300.00.
This upcoming change to the benefits also came with a plan structure change where the member would have a higher deductible to meet, which understandably, was a daunting thought for her. The member was planning to use the inserts in her shoes as well as her winter boots, which in Vermont, winter boots are a necessity throughout winter if you want to leave your house. I quickly came to realize that having this item, especially at no cost, would be a gift for this member that would result in a better quality of life all around.
The member explained her struggle with the supplier and recent lack of availability for appointments and fittings. This situation was causing stress as the end of the year neared, given there was a benefit change coming. Hearing the frustration and worry in the member's voice, I took the situation out of her hands and contacted the provider to explain the member's benefits in 2017 versus the changes coming in 2018.
I called the supplier which resulted in the supplier letting me know that they ordered the items and that it should be in any day. I excitedly called the member and let her know that the supplier would be calling her as soon as the items arrived for fitting. At this point, I was beginning to feel a little anxious about the items not being billed for 2017.
Over the next week, I called the supplier multiple times to make sure that everything was on track and to confirm if the shoe inserts had come in yet. I continued to proactively monitor the account, and 7 days later, the member called me stating that she had gone into the supplier and the representative who is trained to fit and mold the shoe inserts was on vacation until the end of that week. With the holiday season approaching, it was understandable that employees may not be available every day. However, the member was becoming concerned that the quality of life the shoe inserts would provide was not going to occur. When I got into work at the end of that week, our last business day of 2017, I called the supplier and confirmed the member had been fitted that morning and was home and happy! I was quick to follow up with the member who stated, “You really did go above and beyond”. She even had her husband thanking me in the background. I am so thankful that I work for a company that allows me to work on the member’s behalf, keeping her quality of life in mind, and getting an item in her hands at no cost.
By keeping in touch on a regular basis with the supplier and member, we were able to “push” the fitting and processing to go through in 2017. The supplier had helped me put the member first, and together, we ensured that the member got the services she wanted and needed. As I left work that evening, I felt good knowing that I had made the members’ upcoming new year a better one.
Alyssa Pratt – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
Experiences That Stay With You
“Absolutely worth every ounce of effort.”
Good customer service is something that takes dedication and empathy, and every interaction is as important as any other. However, there are some experiences that stay with you; opportunities to really go out of your way and make a difference for someone, especially if they’re in a tight spot. I feel fortunate to have had several occasions to give this kind of service, and one of the most notable was very recent.
It was the end of the week and although it had been a busy week with many standard beginning-of-the-year questions, I had not had many that required an abundance of my available resources to answer. When I got this call, I knew it would take some work, but I didn’t know quite how much. The member who called had a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Device (CPAP) which had been stolen, and he had been waiting for weeks to get a new one sent to him by his chosen supplier. Apparently, the supplier didn’t have any CPAPs in stock, and after waiting quite some time for the item, the supplier let him know that it could be an additional two months before they could get him the item. They then referred him to an online resource to purchase the device instead. The member called BCBSVT per their recommendation to see if he could order the CPAP online and submit a request for us to reimburse him. This is where I realized the problem would not be a quick fix.
The website in question was not a viable option for our member. Not only were they not in the member’s network, but they were also not licensed suppliers. This member had been waiting so long already, I certainly didn’t want to delay it any further. I reassured him that I was going to look into his options. To gain insights on the best next steps, I consulted with my team leader and a research analyst to hear their recommendations for what we should do next. We agreed that I should find some local, in network options where he could get the CPAP instead. I let the customer know that I was going to find some viable options for him to choose from. I started making phone calls and obtained the names of network suppliers that had his model of CPAP in stock. I then called the member to provide an update and a list of suppliers to choose from.
Once he selected the supplier of his choice, I then outreached to the supplier, filled them in on the situation, and they walked me through what they needed from the physician to supply the CPAP. I called the member back and let him know that the supplier needed information from the original prescription and that I would be happy to outreach to his physician on his behalf to ensure the supplier had everything they needed to fill his order. He gratefully provided me with the name and phone number of his physician. I then contacted the office to request that they send the member’s information to the chosen CPAP supplier. They told me they would, so I waited a day or so, then called the supplier to see if they had received the information. They had not, so I made another call to the prescribing physician. Fortunately, after my second call to the doctor’s office, they were able to get the information sent to the supplier quickly. Once the supplier had the required information, I circled back with the member again so that we could conference call with the supplier together to review what we needed to do next and get the member in for the fitting of his machine.
Since we had a change to the supplier, I worked with our internal clinical team to update the approved authorization to this new supplier ensuring his claims would process accurately. I then called the supplier, provided them with the information on the authorization and went over the member’s benefits so they would have all the information they needed on the member’s coverage.
At that point, the supplier set the member up for the fitting of the machine, so he could take it home. I called the member the following week to make sure everything had gone through and he had received his new CPAP. He said he received it and expressed his appreciation for my help in getting everything worked out. His parents expressed their thanks as well, as they were very familiar with the situation.
Truthfully, it was a lot of work and phone calls, but it was absolutely worth every ounce of effort. The member was able to get what he needed, and I was able to get him through a difficult, confusing situation where everyone came out the other side with a sense of accomplishment, and on the member’s side, a needed medical care item. I’ll remember his name and my interactions with him and it will forever serve to remind me of how much one person can do for another, no matter how small or large the challenge.
Cerridwen Moser-Bertsche – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
Valuing the Member’s Experience
“We value our customers and their experiences.”
As many customer service representatives may know, we do a lot of work that may not be appreciated because it is “behind the scenes”, but every now and again, you have a positive impact on a valued member, and that makes it all worth it. One member is all it took for me to feel like I could make a difference, even if it was in a small way.
One morning, I received a call from a mother with a young child. I could tell she had been crying and I could hear the panic in her voice; my heart went out to her. The family was traveling, and her child’s nutrition formula had been lost in the luggage they checked. The mother was worried and had no idea what to do. Additionally, this specific formula that her child needed to survive was expensive and she had no idea where to get replacement formula. She called around to providers in her area with no success. Feeling hopeless and out of options, she called BCBSVT and reached me.
I reassured her that I understood the seriousness of the situation, would make sure she got the formula she needed. I also reassured her that I would take ownership of this and resolve her issue. After finding out where she was located, I looked up pharmacies in her area and reached out to each one to verify if they had the specific formula that her child needed. After calling six pharmacies with absolutely no luck, I was starting to get worried, but I didn’t lose hope; time to try a new approach. I met with one of my team leaders, and we brainstormed options to resolve this issue. We decided the best next step was to outreach to durable medical equipment suppliers in that area in hopes they had more information and the formula in stock. Due to restrictions, I was unable to contact suppliers directly, so I called our sister Plan for assistance. The sister Plan representative understood the urgency of the situation and committed to helping me find a resolution. While I remained on the line, she called three local durable medical suppliers that were in our member’s network. Thankfully, the third supplier had the formula in stock. Then, I ensured the appropriate authorization for this supplier was in place, so the claim would not reject. On the member’s behalf, I reached out to the members’ designated nurse case manager and informed her what was going on. She was surprised and grateful for my level of effort to find a durable medical supplier and put an authorization in place. Everything was completed within two hours of the member reaching out to us for help.
I was excited to call the member back and give her the good news. I knew how incredibly stressful and scary this experience was for her, and the thought of her child being without the formula was a serious concern for me as well. I told our member where to pick up the formula, confirmed that we verified the specific formula was in stock and ready to go, and authorization was in place, so she would not have to pay out of pocket for the formula. I could hear her voice go from worried to relieved which made everything I had done completely worth it. She told me that she knew we were just her insurance company and that it was not our problem, but she was thankful she could focus on her family and not spend hours on the phone. I reassured her that this is exactly what we are here for, that we value our customers and their experiences, and we truly want to help see them through any health care obstacle that may arise.
I feel fortunate that I work for a company that values the member experience and supports its call center staff in taking the time needed to ensure first contact resolution. By working collaboratively with my team lead, our Integrated Health nurse case manager, and our sister Plan, we were able to take this member out of the middle of a difficult situation and work together to see her through. That is why I love my job!
Jennie Stevens – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
Saved Her Life
“If I wasn’t here, she probably wouldn’t be.”
Here is my story about going the extra mile for customer service. I remember this like it was yesterday, and I will never forget it! The customer was a young 79-year-old and she was actually very excited to try our TiVo service. Install day was here and the movers had just left as I arrived. Everything was in place and she was eager to get everything working. After getting the modem and T6 installed I proceeded with running a line to the bedroom for her Mini and then it happened!
The customer was coming down the hallway to see me and when I turned to look at her, her eyes rolled back in her head and she collapsed right in front of me, banging her head on the way down. I was in shock. This has never happened to me before. Her eyes were closed, and she was trying to talk to me, but it was all gibberish. I immediately called 911 and grabbed a pillow to put under her head for comfort.
I repeated several times to the customer, “can you hear me?” She finally opened her eyes and the first thing she said was, “I’m sorry.” I don’t know why, but I started to giggle. I think it was the fact that I was in shock and I was relieved that she wasn’t dead. I kept telling her, “Don’t worry the ambulance is on its way, you’re going to be okay.” It seemed like forever and finally, the ambulance arrived. They did a quick assessment and they needed to get her to a hospital right away. I asked if she would be alright and they said if I wasn’t here, she probably wouldn’t be.
She called me a few weeks later to thank me and to tell me she’s fine now. I was very relieved to hear that, and I booked another appointment to finish the install. It seems that I saved her life and saved a customer.
Graham Wiaz – Cogeco Connexion
“I knew how important tv was to them.”
I try to make every customer my number one priority and ensure they feel valued as a customer, and there is one couple who stand out in my mind. I will refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. X, so they remain anonymous for the purposes of this story.
As their building representative, they know to call me directly whenever they have problems with their services. ‘Mr. X’ was suffering from mental illness and was having difficulty with everyday tasks like using the TV remote. When frustrated he would pull out the HTD equipment and disconnect / reconnect wires trying to fix the problem himself. Flustered, Mrs. X would call me because the TV was the only thing that kept her husband happy and calm. I would do my best to fit her in as soon as possible. I often dropped in to see them at the end of the day when my line-up was completed because I knew how important TV was to them.
Roughly 6 months ago, Mr. X passed away and his wife decided it was time to move in with her family in a different city. In the process of moving, she didn’t return the HTD equipment associated with her account, and when she received her final bill, there was a charge for unreturned equipment. She immediately called me (she still had my direct number) and was very concerned about how she was going to be able to recover the equipment that she left behind in her old apartment. I was able to go back and speak with the new tenants and convinced them to return the equipment to me, so I could return it for Mrs. X. She was extremely pleased when I called her back with the good news, and I felt very uplifted to be able to make a genuine connection with Mrs. X. Even though she has moved away to another city, and is no longer a customer, I hope that she has a great feeling about how she was treated and that she would gladly switch back to our company as a customer given the opportunity.
Jason Gould – Cogeco Connexion
No Family in the Area
“My way of helping out.”
There was this one time that I received a call to go to a nursing home to install a phone. The lady I was installing for had recently broken her leg and couldn’t go anywhere and had no family in the area. She needed the phone to get in touch with her doctors and such.
The install went as smooth as can be, but when it came to the end of it, she asked me where the phone was. I told her I was sorry, but we didn’t provide the phone. She had no one to get one for her and couldn’t do it herself. Well, at the end of the day, I was near a ‘value store’, so I decided that I would take a quick peek to find her a phone. I found a little, corded phone for $3, so I picked it up and returned to her home. The lady was blown away that someone who didn’t know her would help her out in such a way. That was my way of helping out.
I know we’re not supposed to do stuff like that, but I thought of how it would be if I was in that situation.
Wesley Clarke – Cogeco Connexion
“I wanted to take ownership.”
I received a call from one of our doctor’s offices that I recognized and had worked with previously. The Account informed me that they had a unique situation at hand and wanted to review what options the Customer Service Team had to help her and her patient. I expressed, and confirmed, that I was more than willing to help in any way possible. It was at this time that the doctor’s office provided me with more details about the situation. The office had an elderly patient who had just purchased his eyeglass frame a few months back and had accidentally damaged the frame and lenses. The incident occurred when the patient was loading laundry and the frames fell into the washer.
The account was familiar with the warranty policy but wanted to know if there were any options or alternatives that we could offer the patient. As I discovered more details on the incident, I found out that the patient was facing a far more difficult situation outside of his glasses being damaged. The patient had recently experienced a loss; his wife of many years had recently passed away. It was during this difficult time when he was planning upcoming arrangements that this mishap occurred. To make this situation more challenging, the funeral arrangements were set for the upcoming weekend. I immediately expressed condolences on my behalf, and on behalf of Marchon. I informed the account that I wanted to take ownership of replacing the damaged frame. The account was delighted that we would make an exception for her patient, which inspired her to replace the lenses at her office.
As I moved forward with placing the order, I noticed that there were some logistical challenges ahead. I needed to ship the frame out and ensure it was delivered by the next day. I proceeded to expedite the shipping of the package to ensure that the account would receive it in time to deliver to the patient. To ensure the package left on time, I informed the office that I would monitor the order and follow up the next day to ensure the frame was delivered. The account and the patient were very happy with the solution that was being formulated. The optometrist at the office responded with, “Oh my gosh, you’re going to make me cry! Thank you so much, we really appreciate it.”
As the day progressed, I continued to monitor the order until it was sent out, but the order was not being processed. I partnered with my supervisor and advised her of the situation. We reached out to the warehouse to get the order out that night, but we were informed that the package wouldn’t ship out until the next day. At that moment, I knew my next step was to call the account to inform them that the order did not make the shipping cutoff time. I explained that I would find another solution for the patient. I suggested sending the order out the next morning via courier with a Saturday delivery. Normally there would be an extra charge for this service, but we covered that charge as well. The optician then advised me that the office would be closed on Saturday because the entire office would be attending the funeral for the patient’s wife because they were longtime customers. I expressed my apologies for the inconvenience, and I wanted to make sure the frames would be there in time for her patient. At that point, the optician told me that if we could get the order out for Saturday delivery, she would stop at the office to pick up the frame and lenses before the funeral service. First thing Friday morning, I partnered with my supervisor in New York to have them walk to the warehouse to have them process the order. I called the account back to confirm with the optician that we were able to process the order and ship it out.
I was so involved with the situation that I called the office Monday morning and spoke with the optician to confirm they received the order on Saturday. The optician advised that everything worked out perfectly and that the patient appreciated everything I did to make sure that he was able to see on one of the most important, but difficult days of his life.
Courtney Abobo – Marchon/Altair Eyewear
Following Your Instinct
“Had a positive impact on someone’s day.”
I started at Marchon Eyewear a little less than a year ago, and I’ve had many experiences with helping our accounts work through problems or find the perfect frame to fit their patient’s needs. While this job can be challenging, a lot of times it can also be very rewarding. It is so uplifting to know that you had a positive impact on someone’s day, whether it be with one of our accounts or by extension, the patient’s.
At the beginning of my time here, I remember getting a call from a lady from one of our accounts about a patient who had broken his frame. She told me that the patient had a pair of frames that he just loved. He had them for a while, but one night when he was cleaning them, they snapped in half. The patient was in a tight financial situation, and so, the lady with the account said she was really hoping she could get the patient a pair of frames under warranty. I checked the stock, and we were in luck. We had the frame he needed available! I explained to her that all she had to do was send the broken frame back with a copy of the invoice and that she would be credited for the broken frame. But unfortunately, she wasn’t sure what the warranty period was. I explained that it was a two-year warranty from when the frame was initially purchased. When we looked up the invoice, we realized that it had just been outside of the warranty by a few weeks. I could tell she was disappointed. However, she was very kind about it saying that she understood and would let the patient know.
I was brand new at Marchon and had been out on the floor for maybe a month, so I was nervous about pulling strings. However, during training, my trainer told us that, “you never wanted to end a call on a negative note, and you can tell that you made the right decision on a call if you walk away from it feeling good.” We were told to always follow that instinct, so that’s exactly what I did. I told the lady from the account, that given the circumstances, even though the frame was outside the warranty, I would just send her the frame free of charge, especially because her patient was such a big fan of his frame. She was beyond over-joyed, and you would have thought she won the lottery. She said she couldn’t wait to call her patient to let him know, and that she would always remember what Marchon did for her that day.
That call had such a positive impact on me. Since I was new at Marchon, I was nervous about my career change. I used to work with children, and I loved helping them learn and watching them grow. I didn’t know if I’d be able to connect with people in the same way at my new job, but this call reassured me that I had made the right decision. I am so happy and proud to work for a company that allows me to continue to help those around me.
Juliana Klingel – Marchon/Altair Eyewear
Advocate for the Client
“She always puts the customer first.”
Fadumo received an escalated call about a client’s credit card. The client was traveling and wanted to rent a vehicle as they were attending their daughter’s wedding. They were at the car rental office and their card was declined. Fadumo took over the escalated call and researched the account to discover the reason for the card being declined.
It turns out that this was a long-standing client with a good payment history on her account. This was an extremely stressful situation for the client due to the importance of the occasion, in combination with the need to use this card for purchases while traveling. The client had received a new replacement card because her card-in-hand had been compromised, and because the client hadn’t switched cards, it resulted in the card being declined.
Fadumo was able to work with the team and be an advocate for the client so that the card could be re-opened for use. Her empathy, solutions provided, and quick action turned what could have been a very negative experience into a positive one for the client.
Fadumo understands that what may be a normal call for her with a routine problem can be the most important thing for her client on the line that day. And so, she uses her compassion and knowledge to appreciate what the cardholder is feeling, to help them resolve, clarify, or determine solutions to their issues promptly. Her consistency and commitment allow her to deliver top class service with a personal touch time and time again.
Fadumo Hassan – Millennium1 Solutions
Putting Customers at Ease
“She never leaves an issue unresolved.”
Listening to one of Shandra’s calls, you feel as if she is talking to her best friend, her grandmother, or her mom. She has a way of putting her customers at ease, always assuring them that she is there to help. She never leaves an issue unresolved and will go the extra mile to ensure her customers are satisfied. Often, what our customers need is someone to listen, and help them through a difficult time. This is the case in Shandra’s call with a customer who desperately needed her on the day she called in.
The customer was calling Premera Blue Cross as her husband had been admitted to hospital after a stroke. The customer was simply calling to make sure that her husband was authorized for his hospital stay, but Shandra could tell there was much more on her mind. After Shandra assured her that his hospital stay had been approved, she probed a bit to see if the customer needed any other help as she could hear the customer fighting back tears. Shandra learned that the customer and her husband had been married for over 50 years, and the customer had never handled finances or insurance matters. The customer felt overwhelmed and wanted to stay by her husband’s side, but also needed to take care of the bills and the house and worried she couldn’t do it all. Her husband was not able to communicate very well, and she wanted to be there to speak to the medical staff. She shared that she had to leave her husband for a bit as she had animals at home to care for, and during that time, her husband was given the wrong lunch and choked – which landed him in the Intensive Care Unit where he developed pneumonia. They were not sure if her husband would pull through. She was devastated and just needed someone to talk to, which is where Shandra came in.
Shandra listened to the customer talk about her life with her husband. Shandra assured her that she was doing an amazing job taking care of her husband, and to just take it minute-by-minute. They cried a bit together and had a few laughs. At the end of the call, the customer told Shandra she believed everything happens for a reason and she was meant to call Blue Cross that day. She believed that Shandra was her angel and was sent to make her laugh. The customer said their conversation, “felt like she was having coffee and chatting with an old friend who made her laugh,” and it gave her, “a break from all the craziness.” A few months later, the customer called back and got Shandra again. Shandra heard her say to her husband, “I thought this was my Angel I was talking to again.” Her husband was back home and had fully recovered. She kept telling him during the call, “this is that great lady I talked to when you were in the hospital. Remember, I told you about her?”
This was a call that stayed with Shandra, and she realized her ability to impact others and make someone smile in their most difficult hours. Shandra had this to say about her experience with the customer:
So there it is - the customer who impacted my life. When we talk to customers who are calling about their insurance, most of the time it’s because they are having health issues. You hang up never knowing the outcome. I realize that if I can make just one person smile and feel a bit less scared during a phone call, I can hang up knowing that I’ve done my job well.
This is just one of Shandra’s customer stories. Shandra has also eased a customer’s mind by giving exact directions to a health clinic, noting the best time of day to go. She uses empathy and understands the various needs of her customers. She helps elderly members through the transition to Medicare with ease, ensuring comprehension of the entire call. Shandra uses all resources available to help her customers and often uses understandable analogies to explain complex issues clearly. She is positive and upbeat, yet able to calm customers in challenging situations.
Shandra Roberts – Premera Blue Cross
Do the Right Thing
“I had to follow through and stay on top of it.”
I try to put myself in my customers' shoes every day, on every call. My goal is for each customer to leave the call happy, with all of the answers they need. I really want them to have an outstanding experience. When a customer tells me about a problem, my first reaction is that I'm going to fix it. I take the initiative to figure it out, follow through, and resolve it. ‘Do the right thing’ is one of our company's values, and it's one of my own too. It's just a part of who I am. So when a customer called me about a problem, I immediately promised that I would work with him to fix it. At the time, I had no idea that it would take more than three months of diligent work to get it done.
The member called because he had received a notice from a collection company that a balance was supposedly owing to his doctor's office. This came as a surprise to the member because he hadn't neglected to pay any bills. In fact, he didn't know that he even owed any money to this doctor. He needed my help to sort it all out. My first research step was to review his account. His employer had made several updates to his account in the past few years, and there were lots of medical claims; so there was a lot for me to review. I asked him some probing questions, and I kept researching. Together, we determined that the collection notice was for two doctor visits. According to our records, it was clear that the member didn't owe any money. But I know from experience that issues like this can be difficult to resolve. When it comes to record-keeping, many businesses have a hard time accessing and interpreting older files. And one of these doctor visits happened almost three years ago.
The doctor's office said that our local affiliate had indeed paid them for the entire cost of the visits. But they said the payment was taken back (recouped). That seemed strange to me since our records didn't indicate any payment reversal. So I called our local affiliate to find out what happened. They confirmed that they did recoup the funds. But the representative wasn't sure why they had done this. And he said there was no way to get more information because the records had been "purged". Of course, I wasn't satisfied with that answer. It wouldn't be right for our customer to be charged money that he doesn't owe. So I asked our technical support team for help, and then I called the member and gave him an update.
I called our local affiliate again. I explained the issue and asked to have it escalated. I was directed to a special team that researches situations like this, so our Support Specialist and I gathered all the relevant details and sent them to that team via email. I called the member and gave him another update. A week later, the local affiliate had some news for us - they were forwarding the case to yet another team. We spent the next eight weeks corresponding with this new team. We answered more questions and the team kept researching. Several possible solutions were proposed, but none of them panned out. I called the member every week and gave him an update.
It had been almost three months since the member first called me. I had spent a lot of time on this. But what really bothered me was the frustration and anxiety that our customer was feeling. By now, the member had paid the collection company because he was afraid the bill would negatively impact his credit report. We kept working on the issue, and then we found a solution! We arranged for a check to be sent directly to the member to reimburse him for the payment he had made.
I received a call from the member, providing ME with an update. He said, "I got the check!" He was holding the check in his hand and thanked me repeatedly for helping resolve the issue. I think he was surprised that someone at a large company could care so much about him. We had talked a lot over the past few months and built a rapport. So when I heard him say, "I guess we're good to go", it almost felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend. But I was also super happy! This was a rare type of problem, and it took a lot of effort to fix it. Still, I knew that I had to follow through and stay on top of it until the very end. I'm proud of the work I did. I’m glad that our company supported my efforts, and I feel really good about doing the right thing for our member, no matter what it took.
Shari Waibel – Premera Blue Cross
“We did our part to improve his quality of life.”
I take pride in each call and always try to treat each caller as a member of my family by showing I care, understand, and will do what is necessary to remove barriers to ensure their issues are resolved.
When I took an escalated call late one day, I realized the member who was calling was in immediate need of assistance. He had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and was working closely with his doctors to find a medication that could manage his condition. He shared that he’d lost the ability to use his hands because of his disease, which compromised his quality of life. He also shared that he has always been an interactive father, but because of his disease, a small cold could compromise his body and disable him for weeks.
This member had always managed his family’s finances, but he now found himself unable to concentrate and make sound decisions. One routine task that he overlooked was paying his insurance premium, which caused his policy to be terminated. Not wanting to worry his wife, he chose not to share how his health was deteriorating and didn’t ask for help. Sadly, he found himself without insurance and unable to buy his medication. The medication he needed cost over $3,000 without insurance.
I knew that without his medication, his quality of life would deteriorate rapidly. I wanted to be sure we did our part to improve his quality of life and not add roadblocks to an already terrible situation. I worked with our membership team to determine whether he would be eligible for a reinstatement of his policy. We researched and reviewed the requirements and confirmed that his diagnosis would qualify him for reinstatement. Our membership team quickly updated the member’s account, allowing him to pick up his medications within 24 hours. Both the member and his wife were very grateful for how quickly we could help at a critical time.
This member’s story is just one of many we come across in the Medicare line of business. They all touch my heart. I try to always understand our member's needs, whether it is financially, emotionally, or physically. I fold my hands and listen. The member’s tears became my tears. Hearing the desperation in his voice, in so many of our member's voices, compels me to fight and exhaust all resources until a positive result is accomplished. This story embodies the commitment Regence has to our members and what we represent as a company.
Autum Hall – Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans
Recognize the Issue
“Let them know we truly care.”
When I first received a call from a member, and I sensed fear in his voice. His wife of many years had gone comatose one night. She was in the hospital for about a month and was about to be discharged to skilled nursing. He wasn’t sure at that point whether she would be okay. As if that wasn’t terrifying enough, he’d just received the first Explanation of Benefits showing how her medical claims were processing. He had done his research and asked the paramedics to take her to a hospital that was in her network. Unfortunately, the network hospitals were full of flu patients, so she was taken to the closest hospital that could care for her, which was out of network.
The member could see that the cost share for each provider was going to be 30%. He is disabled and on a limited income, and he could not fathom how he was going to pay 30% of the total cost, which was about $300,000. The fear took over when he realized he did not know what would happen to them as he knew he wouldn’t be able to come up with $90,000. That was when he called customer service. After listening to him, I immediately knew that more than anything, he needed some assurance. I explained to him that his wife’s plan had a higher cost share for out-of-network providers, but in an emergency when the member cannot choose who provides the care, we treat the claims as if they are in-network. I could feel the relief wash over him as I explained this, but he was still concerned because these bills were going to roll in quickly.
He was overwhelmed by about 15 pages of claim information and just did not know where to begin. I decided to take charge. Diving into the multitude of claims we had already received, I was able to recognize the issue. Although all the professional claims were processing, we had not yet received an in-patient hospital claim indicating it truly was an emergency medical situation. I let him know that as soon as we got that claim, I could have all the professional claims reprocessed as in-network. I told the member I would take care of things and would let him know when everything was figured out. I contacted the providers and let them know what was going on, and they agreed to hold off on billing until I could have the claims reprocessed.
After carefully watching the claims for a few weeks, I finally saw the hospital claim come in, which allowed me to send all two dozen professional claims back to be reprocessed at the in-network benefit level. This left our member with one in-patient copay as their cost share. When I called the member back with the good news, it was like he transformed into another person. He let me know he couldn’t thank us enough. He said, “That’s why we have Regence. You have always treated us so well.” He also credited the doctors, the hospital, and Regence for the wonderful care his wife received and shared that she was on the road to recovery. I let him know that we are always here to help, and it really was my pleasure.
I’m incredibly proud that I could make such a difference for this member and his wife with this call. Calls like this are the reason I love being in customer service. When our members are lost or frightened, it is so wonderful to be able to let them know we truly care about them and show that we will do everything in our power to take care of their needs.
Christopher Waid – Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans
Patience is Key
“Providing a superior customer experience.”
Working in a customer service role is one of the most rewarding and exciting roles. Interacting with a variety of customers daily and servicing each client to meet their individual needs takes effort and constant adjustment. For example, clients who are going through different stages of life have different goals and aspirations. Some clients want you to move at a very fast pace or slow things down so they can keep up with you. Working at an online brokerage further emphasizes the excitement. You deal with a range of emotions, and since markets are volatile, time is money. Working as an SQM World Class Certified CSR means keeping all of that in mind, and still going the extra mile.
At Scotia iTRADE, we have two fundamental models to help guide us towards providing a superior customer experience; the iCare and the Customer Experience Model. I used both of these important models when I received a call from a new client who was frustrated. He could not figure out how to access his account and was looking to place his first trade. When you are new to something, like trading on an unfamiliar platform, the whole experience can be overwhelming. It was something I understood as I had the same experience when I started working at Scotia iTRADE. I related to the client by adapting to the client's knowledge, experience, and pace. Instead of simply doing what the client asked by manually resetting his password, I helped him become a more self-sufficient client by walking him through how to reset the password. I committed to teaching him everything he wanted to learn, and more. Once he discovered how simple the process was and started gaining confidence, I walked him through how to transfer funds from one of his linked bank accounts into his brokerage account to place a trade. The client was delighted to know that he could instantly transfer funds from his bank account and place a trade, all in the same day. In situations like this, I always feel it is important to be completely transparent and proactive with the client by breaking down everything they may come across during the process, so they don’t encounter any surprises, all of which adds value for the client. Once all was said and done, the client's trade went through, his balances covered, and passwords reset.
I think it is important to empathize and remember that we have all been in the clients’ shoes and had things with which we needed help. We are all taught that we should go the extra mile, but we can only do that if we have inspiration. Patience is key, and with most customer service roles being in fast-paced organizations, sometimes this is forgotten. You need to give clients time to learn and discover all that they are capable of doing so they can build their confidence. In some situations, giving clients that extra time is going the extra mile. You can spend years building up the client base of an organization, but what good is that if you cannot give them the extra time they need to have a fully satisfying, and joyful customer experience?
In the end, the most rewarding parts about this experience were the amount of confidence the client gained, the client finally being able to place a trade for the stocks he always wanted, and the happiness I felt about the job I had done. The icing on the cake came a few weeks later when I was called over by my manager and presented with a wonderful hand-written letter from my client. Having a client go out of their way to spend the time to send a hand-written letter to compliment you on how good of a job you did, and how great of a customer service experience they had was unheard of. For me, I am inspired to give 110% on every call no matter how tough the call is or how frustrated a client may initially be, because, in the end, they are just like us. They want someone who is willing to be patient, have all their questions and concerns answered and solved to their total satisfaction, which is why I will always go the extra mile.
Haron Hofioni – Scotia iTRADE
Willingness to Help
“Help the client within the first call.”
Customers may forget what you said but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.
Working as a customer service representative is not always an easy job, but it is a rewarding one. My guiding principle is to completely focus on every client and work to help the client within the first call. Following Scotia iTRADE’s iCare Model of relating, adapting, showing empathy, committing, and resolving client issues, I have been able to improve my ability to perform my job and help our clients.
From the moment you pick up the phone you never know what to expect, and need to be adaptable to all situations. My goal is to start each call in an enthusiastic manner, demonstrating my willingness to help. This gives the client the confidence that I am the right person and that I will take ownership for resolving any concerns. It is especially important to take the time with every client, to aim to resolve all their concerns on the first call, and end the call on a positive note.
I remember a recent experience when a client called stating he was unable to view one of his accounts online. After a long wait, the client briefly stated his problem and wanted to immediately talk with a manager. I really wanted to help him and avoid having to transfer him to a manager. So, I offered to help the client myself. From my past experience, issues such as these can be resolved without having to escalate them. All you have to do is show a willingness to take your time, and not leave that call until it has been taken care of. I steered the conversation away from being escalated. The client noticed that I really wanted to help him access his accounts, and therefore gave me a chance and his trust to take care of his problem. To ensure understanding, I paraphrased his concern. After understanding the concern, I took full ownership. I contacted our back office and worked with them to resolve the issue. It was not a simple fix, and it was going to take approximately 30 minutes. Realizing the importance for the client, I put our back office on hold and advised the client that I would take care of the issue. I made sure to go back and forth between the client and our back office to update him on the matter. This allowed me to set expectations with the client on how much longer it would take and involved him in the process. He was appreciative because he was kept up-to-date with the issue at hand, and not given false promises or disconnected as per his previous experience.
The problem was finally resolved for the client with regard to his account. I advised him to confirm if he was able to view his account, and he confirmed the account was there for him to see. He was very grateful at this point and it really made me happy. I also wanted to re-establish his relationship and reinstate his trust in Scotia iTRADE. Therefore, for his trouble, I decided to goodwill the client some free trades upon approval from my manager. Towards the end of the call I asked the client if he would like to talk to my manager, he says why should I, you’ve taken care of everything I needed.
Situations like these are what keep me going and give me confidence in helping our clients. I also look at this as a challenge. I challenge myself with each client to see if I can exceed his or her expectations of the service provided and resolve all problems at hand.
Rose-Berthe Beaubrun – Scotia iTRADE
Start to Finish on the First Call
“Put yourself in the client’s shoes.”
When I first learned that my child was diagnosed with severe anaphylactic allergies, my initial reaction was almost paralyzing as to what our child's future would hold. How can we possibly protect our child from bananas, avocados, dairy, and eggs? How can we possibly send him to daycare, and eventually school knowing he’s at risk? Admittedly, I may have also thought to myself, “Our child can never have PIZZA!”
As a parent, as best you can, you take these types of things in stride. Do the best you can with the hand you’re dealt. Plus, kids are beyond resilient, and while I was panicking about what his long-term future would hold, he never even thought to question his new diet. As this moment unfolded, I certainly never considered how it would apply to my work.
Within the customer service field, I think it’s important to put yourself in the client’s shoes as best you can in almost every instance. How, as a customer, would this feel? Furthermore, how can I acknowledge their concern and best proceed on their behalf? So, when a mom called on the verge of tears having just learned her daughter had developed a peanut and sesame seed allergy and having learned EpiPens are both intimidating and costly, and because I had worn these shoes myself, I instinctively assured her I was prepared to resolve her issue. Honestly, her issue wasn’t too complex, but the relatability and assurance I was able to provide to her went a long way. We were laughing by the end of the first interaction and trading recipe websites.
Insurance companies apply a day-supply limit to all medication and the lifesaving EpiPen is no different. Most plans limit the number of EpiPens you can fill at any given time to 4, every 30 days. This mom needed, at the suggestion of her allergist, two at home, two at her ex-spouse’s home, one at after-school care, one for the school front desk, and one wearable at school all day. You counted right, that’s seven EpiPens! The claim simply wasn’t considering the total cost because of the imposed limit, and at well over $100 each, this was causing some financial concern for this mom. Instantly, I jumped into action and assured her that I would be able to assist. I explained the plan restriction, the best means of considering an exception, and the next steps to resolve the issue. She was able to send a copy of the prescription to me directly which indicated the direction of use, medical information about the condition, and why so many were being prescribed upfront.
Once I received the documentation from her allergist, I reached out to claims for the exception on a rush basis, received confirmation of approval, and to be proactive, called her pharmacist to put through the prescription to ensure the plan would pay as we’d discussed. When I called her back with the good news saying, “I’m calling to let you know I’ve arranged everything for you. All you need to do is go to your pharmacy and pay the small co-pay.” She probably thanked me ten times. For a moment I thought that I was just doing my job, but you know, the truth is, from time-to-time you really get to help people, help them jump their hurdles in life, help them cope with difficult or upsetting situations, and sometimes your own experiences can assist in having the empathy needed to go the extra mile. So, when you’re in a position to help, and you take the time to really resolve something from start to finish on the first call, that means a lot to someone. It’s not just doing your job; to them, it’s so much more than that.
When my wife and I finally let our guard down enough to trust a restaurant to cook something for our child, we had the privilege of enjoying a custom birthday meal together, for the first time in well over two years, and it went smoothly. I made sure the chef and staff knew they weren’t just doing their jobs either. Sometimes you even learn lessons from your clients.
Dan Adair – Sun Life Financial
Issues Resolved with Urgency
“Completed without any barriers.”
In my previous role as a customer relations representative, my job was to resolve issues on a timely basis and keep all parties informed. I would use all available resources to resolve issues including communicating with internal departments, relying on fellow representatives and support networks for assistance, and using CHCA skills to reprocess or adjust claims as needed. These skills and my previous experience would come in handy later in my current role as a Total Benefits (TB) representative.
One time, I was selected to be part of the isolation queue for victims of the Fort McMurray wildfires. These callers required special attention, sensitivity, and the issues resolved with urgency. This meant providing a high level of compassion, making exceptions to usual processes, and going above and beyond where the opportunity presented itself. One day while I was in the Fort McMurray queue, a member called in and advised me he had lost everything in the fire. He required replacement medications, needed a referral for physiotherapy claims, needed to replace his eyeglasses and needed to withdraw all his savings. The member was desperate and in urgent need, particularly to purchase his life-sustaining medications, and access his savings which were non-matured and restricted.
Since I was multi-skilled in TB and various support roles including CHCA, I knew I could handle this member’s situation. The first thing I did was carry out an exception withdrawal to provide access to non-matured savings (which could not otherwise be accessed under normal circumstances.) I then contacted the proper areas, including account executives, to get an exception to allow an early refill of medications, and an early purchase of eyeglasses. Once the exceptions were in place, I contacted the pharmacy to advise them that the declined drug transactions could be re-entered as eligible claims and the member could then pick up the medications without issue. I ensured an exception was also set up on the vision plan for an early replacement of eyeglasses. I also managed to get an exception to waive the requirement of a doctor’s referral for outstanding declined physiotherapy claims, and proceeded to have those claims reprocessed and paid that same day.
Within 24 hours, I managed to get this member’s restricted money withdrawn and deposited into his bank account as well as seamlessly have replacement medications made available, set up an exception for early replacement of eyeglasses, and pay declined physiotherapy claims. I called the member to let him know that his savings withdrawal would be in his bank account within 1-2 business days, his early refill prescription was ready to be picked up at the pharmacy, that he could purchase a replacement pair of eyeglasses early, and his declined physiotherapy claims had been reprocessed and paid. Although the member’s situation was desperate, this member was completely amazed as to the level of service that was delivered and how promptly it was completed without any barriers. The member said that we were one of the best companies he had ever dealt with.
This was one of my most satisfying moments within the call centre, particularly with the sensitive nature of the member’s situation. I knew that my skills, experience, and know-how in resolving this member’s multiple issues made all the difference.
Jeff Bowden – Sun Life Financial
Completely Change Their Day
“Such a positive and pleasant experience.”
During my first couple of weeks as a Total Benefits representative, I received a call from the nicest client. She was calling in regard to a claim for her daughter that was not paid. After further investigation, I advised her that because this prescription was a compound medication we just needed the pharmacy to provide a breakdown of the compound and the drug identification numbers for each and we would reprocess that for her within our service standards. The client was happy to hear this, so I provided her with the different methods to have the additional information sent to us. While doing so, the client mentioned how this had been such a hard time for her emotionally as well as financially as her daughter is very sick and staying in the hospital, and her parking fees each day to visit were expensive. I empathized with her and passed along my condolences and wished all the best to her and her daughter. After getting off the call I did a little digging because it occurred to me that if she had a health spending account, she could claim her parking fees, which would help to offset that financial burden; and voila, she did! I have never been so happy to call a client back. I reached out to her immediately and informed her of this option with her plan. She was so happy that I looked into that for her without her asking, and that I called her back to let her know. I was glad that I could provide her with a small amount of relief during a time that was probably stressful for her and her family.
A couple of days later, my manager stopped by my desk and told me that she had received a thank you letter from the client about the service I had provided to the client that day. The client wrote to say thank you to Kelsey for her particularly helpful call. The client said she wanted to resolve an issue, and received straightforward directions on how to do so, followed by a call from Kelsey providing additional tips on how to mitigate some expenses. The client mentioned how it was such a positive and pleasant experience and that Kelsey should be recognized for her great customer service. I couldn’t believe the client took the time to write a thank you card and mail it into our office. It just goes to show that those small gestures and information we provide to our clients can completely change their day!
Kelsey MacDonald – Sun Life Financial
Most Rewarding Experiences
“I can make the difference.”
My story can honestly be made up of many small, but significant stories of the many clients I have assisted in my time so far in the customer contact center. I have been with Sun Life for almost 3 years now, and have taken plenty of calls from clients, and have had many that have stuck out to me. However, the two stories I will share were the most rewarding experiences I have had.
We start our career at Sun Life in the training room and are told about the many things that we will learn and deal with on a daily basis. I have worked in customer service for the majority of my career and I will say that this job has been the most rewarding. I don’t think they can ever train you for every customer interaction, but it is great to know that I can make the difference with each conversation I have in helping towards making our clients A Client for Life.
First of all, let’s begin with all the calls that we received during the Fort McMurray fires. These were definitely challenging to listen to, as some clients had lost everything, or had someone very close to them who had, and having to just ‘get up and go’ during the fire evacuation was devastating. I had one client who was calling in because he had evacuated with his family and he was calling in to access his savings plan to help out during this time period of being away from home and not knowing when they would get to go back. They didn’t know what they would even be going back to, if anything. To this day, this story still sticks out in my mind, and I really took the time to listen to this client as I could tell he just needed to talk about what was going on and explain how stressful this was for his family. He went on to tell me the story of the long and stressful drive with all the many others who were evacuated, and how dangerous and scary it was. He said that at one point when they were driving down the only highway that they could use to evacuate, the fires were raging on either side of them which was extremely scary. He said at one point the fire kept creeping closer and closer, and then the fire actually jumped over the highway from the trees (over all the cars) and landed on the other side. I was shocked and couldn’t fathom the thought of watching this and being as scared as they were, and his family was in more than one car. He said it was scary to see that this fire could have dropped on any car and the thought of what could have happened was crazy. He said that they were helpless as they couldn’t go anywhere. They were happy to finally get to safety and be with family, but the unknown was pretty stressful.
The whole point I want to make about this story is that as representatives in the contact center, we have expectations on our average handle time (AHT), and we need to ensure that we are being as productive and quick as possible to be able to be ready to take more calls that are in the queue. But I feel that every once in a while, taking the extra time to listen to our clients and allowing them to just talk is even more important. It is just one more way that we are impacting our clients to know that we are not looking at them as just another call. He thanked me at the end of the call for just listening and acknowledged that we must be busy but appreciated the time I spent with him.
My other story is about another client who was a wonderful lady, and it was a pleasure to talk to her. She made my day! I love when we can just connect with a client, the call is smooth, and the client is happy with their experience. Her feedback was great and reminds me of how much I love my job and interacting with my clients. This client gave feedback to my manager saying that I was simply amazing and magical. She proceeded to say that I was very friendly, willing to help, extremely knowledgeable, nice and clear, and the most important thing is that she could tell that I appreciated her business, which is rare these days. She also said that if my manager had more people like me on her team, the world would be a better place.
Every day I come to work, and I don’t know what I am going to encounter, but its clients like this that remind of why I love working in customer service. If we can all just remember that these are people on the other end of the phone and strive to give the best customer service each and every day no matter how difficult your day is, we can make a big difference in someone’s day, and in our own. We don’t always know or understand what they are going through, but taking the time to listen can be the difference they need. Working in the call centre is more than just answering phones and I strive every day to provide our clients with peace of mind about their plan, anticipate their needs, and provide them with any solutions that may be needed.
It’s clients like these two I have outlined, and the many others I have talked to over my time here that let me know that I am doing the best I can, and I am helping to make our clients feel confident in Sun Life, and in turn, become A Client for Life.
Kim Rourke – Sun Life Financial
A Special Connection
“Providing exceptional service.”
A member of VSP called in asking for a VSP doctor directory. Although this is a routine inquiry, it is the special connection developed during this 22-minute call that made it exceptional. At the beginning of the call, the member had a bit of a feisty manner, and Carlos knew she was going to give him a run for his money. She was an elderly woman and acknowledged it was hard to keep up with insurance and how it works, so Carlos tailored his pace to hers while ensuring she kept her dignity. He asked her if he could e-mail the information to her and she responded back, “I don’t have a fax, Carlos.” In a fun and caring way, he gently told her that he mentioned nothing about a fax, and then they had a good laugh. She mentioned her struggles with technology and how her grandson was talking about an iPod, but she had no idea what he was talking about. Carlos never missed a beat, and said he had the same problem with technology, and “we are one and the same.” He let her know where the doctor directory was coming from and to check her spam folder. She laughed and felt proud because she told him she knew exactly where her spam folder was located on her computer. He responded by saying, “Look at you – now you are just showing off.” There was another burst of laughter by both.
Carlos repeatedly clarified many points during the call. Carlos remained patient and never lost his sense of humor. She indicated that she had a hard time with insurance, so Carlos showed her the simplicity of how her plan worked to give her a confidence boost for when she went to her VSP doctor’s office. She was concerned about only having ten doctors to choose from, and he immediately sent her 25 more. She then asked him, “Carlos, can I call you at this number again.” He replied, “you got it, but you can’t crank-call me.” Laughter was heard all the way around.
After her issue was resolved, the member told Carlos the following about her experience with his service:
Carlos, you have been very helpful. You are professional, thorough, knowledgeable, and very patient. More so than all of that – very kind. Kindness goes a long way with me especially being an older, retired individual. It means a lot when you represent the company by providing exceptional service, so I thank you because you went over and above. I am a customer of your company who is highly satisfied with the type of representative that you are – like I said, kind and patient. When you are talking to older individuals like me, it takes a special person to tap into and fulfill our needs and anticipate how to help because we are in the dark when it comes to these things. We are a little fearful and intimidated about asking the right questions and not missing anything. Since I had an exceptional bonding with you helping me, I am very happy, and wanted to thank you and your company. Thank you, Carlos.
Carlos will never forget the interaction he had with this customer, and the bond created will never be forgotten – by either of them. How many friends and family will she tell about this warm interaction, the shared laughter, about VSP and the kind and patient Carlos? I can confidently say quite a lot.
Carlos Brathwaite – VSP Vision Care