2019 Top CSR CX Improvement Stories
Not for the Faint of Heart
“Our members are real people with real concerns”
When reading the job description for Customer Service Professional (CSP), I will admit I was a bit intimidated by the wording, “this job is not for the faint of heart.” That made me stop and really think, “can I do this?”
After working here for a while, I realized the people calling in were not just random people wanting to call their insurance company for basic information. Really, who wants to spend time talking to their health insurance, car insurance, homeowner’s insurance company, etc.? It is not something you want to spend time doing.
After needing to make a few calls to other customer service centers for myself, I realized that how I was treated was directly related to the way I thought of the company as a whole. When I began thinking of the members I talk to daily, I realized they had genuine issues and concerns and needed to know the person on the other end of the line (me) was truly concerned about their issues. They did not want to listen to a robotic voice that provided monotone answers. Taking this approach is one of the ways I was able to improve my World Class Call (WCC) score over last year.
After that realization, I really began to enjoy taking calls and talking to our members. Following are some examples that have left lasting impressions:
A call from a father asking if we had a maximum dollar amount that we would pay out for insurance claims, or a cap on a specific condition. I wasn’t exactly sure what he was asking, so I asked for some clarification. He told me his young daughter had just been diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer. He did not know what would happen if her benefits were exhausted. His relief was almost palpable when I told him there was no cap on the amount his policy would pay out.
- A Medigap member called to let us know that his wife had passed away and he needed to terminate her policy. I began asking him questions needed to fill out the template, which would then be forwarded to our Membership Department. He began sobbing and told me she had been by his side every day for over 60 years and he didn’t know how to get through even a single day without her. There was nothing I could do to ease his sorrow other than listen to him and let him talk about her and their life together.
- A mom of three teenagers called regarding an upcoming examination as she wanted to make sure it was preauthorized. She began chatting about the procedure but didn’t seem too concerned. Her doctor said she had a football-sized mass on one of her organs. She said she was praying everything would be okay because her family had a full schedule of school and sporting events planned. She didn’t want surgery to cause her to miss any of her family’s events. Throughout the entire conversation, she was so friendly and upbeat. Her concern was more about her family than herself. I was so uplifted and amazed by her gracious attitude.
- To work with our members, you need to be empathetic and compassionate. You need to let members know that you care, and you are here if they need to talk or ask questions. You need to be strong for the member and not be faint of heart. But most of all, for me, I need to remember that our members are real people with real concerns, people with families, people with very serious issues. I love talking to the members. Some issues are easy, and some are difficult. I try to talk to each member as if they are one of my family members.
Donna Torres – Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans
Delivering Service from the Heart
“I was very lucky that Eileen answered my call”
Eileen Bellows, Customer Service Representative, should be a top contender for the SQM World Class Call Improvement award due to her great improvement in World Class Calls from 2018 to 2019.
Eileen is one of those individuals who delivers service from the heart, ensures resolution for our members, and creates memorable experiences for them. Her 10% improvement in World Class Calls from 2018 to 2019 can be attributed to the empathy, ownership, and resilience that she displayed during conversations with our members. By putting herself in the member’s place, Eileen can more easily build trust, leading members to feel confident that she sincerely wants to resolve their concerns. On each call, Eileen takes personal responsibility for ensuring the member’s immediate issues are taken care of while anticipating needs that they may not even know they had.
In addition to her exceptional World Class Call performance, Eileen has received several kudos calls from members due to the great level of service she provided. In one letter received in May 2019, a member raved about Eileen’s commitment to going beyond providing superficial answers: “I had the good fortune to speak with Eileen B. last month and I believe that if she had not answered my call, my problem would still exist. She deeply understood the systems in place at BlueCross NC and her knowledge and ability to access information helped to shed light on, and ultimately resolve my problem. Other representatives were able to tell me what their computer screens indicated in answer to my questions, but Eileen dug deeper, investigated further, and pieced together a puzzle that eventually led to the answers I was seeking…..I was very lucky that Eileen answered my call.”
Eileen has worked very hard to deliver World Class Service to our members and achieve the improvement in her SQM results from 2018 to 2019, and members that interact with her routinely send in positive remarks about their experience.
Eileen Bellows – BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina
Dedicated to Improving Herself
“The first thing she sees on every call…”
Heather has been in her current position as a Senior Customer Service Representative for a little over 3 years now. I have had the pleasure of being her team leader since 2019 and I am very proud to have Heather as a member of my team. The first thing I learned about Heather is that she always wants to improve herself, and her calls. She comes to work each day excited to learn something new and be challenged in new and different ways. She is eager for all feedback and is often her own harshest critic.
Going into 2019 and wanting to improve her customer satisfaction scores and overall call efficiencies, Heather decided to partner up with another Customer Service Representative and start doing peer coaching. Each month during 2019 they listened to 4 calls of the other representatives and provided feedback. Heather also listened to her own calls during this time period to listen for minor things that someone else might not catch. Heather listened for tone adjustments and different phrases she could have used. Each quarter they got together to discuss their feedback and try out the suggested changes.
I was recently re-listening to some of Heather’s calls from 2019 and took notice of her notepad. Heather keeps a virtual notepad on her computer desktop. She makes notes of what her callers are telling her, so she does not forget anything they are saying. She has titled that notepad as Resolving Calls, and she opens it every day. At the top of the notepad, the first thing she sees on every call are the following notes:
- Build Rapport – Set Expectations
- Listen/Paraphrase customer concern in a question
- I Can statement
- Probing questions and Listen to Root of Call
- Briefly recap the discussion
- Explain Next Steps (if there are any)
- Ask what else you can help with
As we all know, there is no set recipe for creating the perfect Customer Service Representative, nor is there a recipe for creating the perfect call, or perfect coaching experience. Human beings are all different. Heather’s notes show me that she recognizes that, but those small constant reminders can help her to turn each call into an individual world class experience. Heather improved her customer experience performance by 12% in 2019. Heather is dedicated to improving herself and her customers’ experiences. Her SQM improvement is proof that what she is doing is working.
Heather Neal – Premera Blue Cross
Be the Hero
“As time went along, I realized it was more than that”
Honesty was hired in mid-2018 and completed her first full year as a fully trained VSP Customer Experience Representative in December 2019. As this was her first call center job, she lacked experience and confidence. Through 45 surveys, she ended 2018 with a World Class Call rate which unfortunately did not meet our internal goals. Honesty wanted to be World Class Certified, but in order to do this, her results would have to improve substantially. While she routinely checked her surveys for the first half of the year, her results were inconsistent. Beginning mid-year, we spent more time working together on her goal and would meet on a weekly basis to discuss her progress. She was tasked with sending one call per week where she thought she demonstrated success in Call Resolution and Customer Satisfaction, and she received side-by-side coaching sessions from our Peer Universal Coaches. Our Team Leads also provided feedback to her on calls they randomly selected. Along with all those sessions, Honesty also requested surveyed calls to be pulled and asked for my specific feedback. While the feedback given wasn’t always what she wanted to hear, she took it in stride and each day, she’d come back in with a smile on her face.
I now sit very close to Honesty and can overhear her interactions with her callers. I can tell she is now more confident and more engaged in her conversations. One of the things that I’ve always told my team is to be the hero. Over the past year, I’ve seen Honesty truly take this to heart. Recently, she had a call where the member was frustrated and upset with his experience receiving services at a local doctor’s office. His glasses had to be made twice and they still weren’t correct, and the member had resorted to wearing his old glasses. In all the member’s frustration, they threw their glasses against a door, breaking them. While she may not have recognized the opportunity to do more in a situation like this before, this time she put herself in the caller’s situation and took the initiative to help our member receive new services at another location. I was very proud of her, as 6-7 months ago, she likely would not have considered handling the situation in this manner. Honesty was truly “the hero” for this member. As the year went on, she continued to gain knowledge, confidence, and became more comfortable in her position, improving both her VOC and her Internal Quality results. Through 60 surveys, she ended 2019 with a 19% improvement over her 2018 results!
“VSP was my first experience working in a call center and I went into training with an open mind. I knew other people that worked for call centers and I thought, VSP was a typical call center, I've got this – right? I was in for a surprise because VSP isn’t a typical call center. In 2018, I remember discussing our mission statement, 'We help people see, and our community is the global community.' I thought, if I provided the information accurately and correctly, then I have done my job, but as time went along, I realized it was more than that. We need to take accountability and pride in helping our members. Throughout 2019, I focused on our internal call handling by slowing down and carefully listening to what my customers were saying. I didn’t simply just answer their question, I anticipated what else they needed to know and how I could further help them. When I encountered a complaint, I made it my goal to reach a positive resolution for both the member and doctor. We are a call center and a business, but we also must put ourselves in other people’s shoes to understand their perspective and situation. With the help of my supervisor, members of the Leadership Team, and other helpful resources, I grew to have a better understanding of the work that VSP does and how they expect us to best deliver on those expectations.”
Honesty Teasley – VSP Vision Care
What We Do Matters!!!
“Shalandra welcomed all constructive feedback”
Shalandra is a problem-solver and has a keen eye for dissecting member issues to find an effective and efficient resolution. She has been with VSP since 2015 and drives first call resolution on every one of her calls. Since starting her career at VSP, she has been world class certified for 5 years and is very proud of the numerous letters received from her members thanking her for resolving their concerns.
Shalandra is very knowledgeable and cares about her members. Due to her strong background in claims, eligibility, and complaints, she can handle a variety of call types well. In addition, she was selected to be the new-hire team champion and is viewed as a role model by her peers as she provides them with the resources needed so they can be successful in providing great customer service. Even as her supervisor, she frequently helps me as well.
In 2018, Shalandra “walked-the-walk and talked-the-talk” when she joined the diabetic outreach program, and she began to reach out to identified diabetic members to welcome them educate them on their benefits.
Early in 2019, Shalandra began struggling to connect with her members as she was not asking the correct probing questions. As time went on, some of her members expressed their frustration through her SQM surveys. As soon as this was identified, Shalandra welcomed all constructive feedback by her supervisor and by what her callers shared in her surveys. Through the targeted coaching and customer insights, she was able to turn things around, and by August, Shalandra started to again receive great feedback from her customers such as “she was very helpful”, “she was very informative and answered all of my questions”, and many more.
Overall, Shalandra made a 10% improvement in 2019 when compared to her 2018 WCC score. Shalandra was able to make this tremendous improvement due to her ability to stay focused, committed, and knowledgeable about how to handle her customers’ questions and concerns. She was also able to make great strides due to her ability to conduct thorough research and personalize every call to provide world class service. I am pleased and excited to nominate Shalandra for the CSR WCC Improvement award.
Shalandra Holland – VSP Vision Care