Supervisor of the Year Award-Winning Story
Jason Chapman — Regence BlueCross BlueShield Plans
At the beginning of 2022, I set a goal to improve my team’s World Class call percentage from 88% in 2021 to 90% in 2022. To meet the goal, I needed a plan of action. As a supervisor, I wanted to make sure my team was aware of the goal to increase the world-class call percentage and as our department’s SQM subject matter expert, I needed to train our department’s newly hired employees in what SQM does and how they do it. Next, I needed to make sure our new hires understood what makes a member interaction World Class. And finally, I needed to explain how to achieve a World Class call.
In 2022 I shared my team’s new World Class call goal of 90% during the first team meeting of the year. In the meeting, I asked my team to think of member interactions where they received a World Class survey and member interactions where they didn’t and what did they do differently on each member interaction. I asked the team to think about and prepare to discuss this during the next team meeting and individual check-ins. In one-on-ones, I asked the CSR to share their thoughts about how to improve their member interactions and call resolution. During team meetings I had each team member share their experiences. I led brainstorming sessions with the team about ways to increase the team’s World Class surveys. This proved to be an effective way to find tips, tricks, and best practices to share with the team in real-time. I also found it was a great way to build team camaraderie.
I presented SQM World Class call training to four new-hire classes in 2022. During the training, I shared what SQM does as a company as it relates to Regence and surveying our members. I explained what criteria make up a World Class survey and how to make sure our members feel valued during each interaction by using the four call-handling practices: Care about me, Help me, Resolve me, and Understand me. The new hires were also instructed on how to find their surveys, how to navigate the SQM system, and what information is needed to review their call or chat interactions with members. This helped to improve customer service skills and call resolution skills. The presentations are an excellent way to introduce our newly hired employees to the SQM program and stress the importance of providing outstanding customer service to our members and resolving our members’ issues on the first contact.
As the departmental SQM subject matter expert I manage our department’s World Class Call Awards Program to incentivize CSRs to achieve high World Class call percentages throughout the year. The awards include gift cards, PTO comp days and department-wide email recognition for customer service representatives with World Class call percentages of 85% and higher. In 2022 the department award program, along with SQM’s, WCC certified, and Agent of the Year awards were great tools to motivate newly hired employees and seasoned customer service representatives to strive for a wonderful member experience on every member interaction.
Because of my department’s SQM training program, WCC Awards Program, and the hard work of our department’s CSRs, the department met its 2022 World Class call goal of 89%. Because I set a realistic World Class call goal in 2022 and due to the hard work of my team, we ended 2022 with the highest-ranking World Class call percentage in the department with a score of 91% World Class, exceeding the team’s goal of 90%, along with a score of 93% calls resolved and 93% Customer Satisfaction with over 1,100 surveys.
Finalist Success Stories
Renee Atherton Bacchus — Alberta Blue Cross
Renee Atherton Bacchus has been a member of our leadership team for over 6 years.
This past year has been one of transition for the whole customer services department not only in many of our processes but also in the role itself. Renee despite having many day-to-day tasks change within her role, has been a constant support to her direct reports and has helped guide and encourage them through the change.
She is a constant advocate for our front-line staff and is always ensuring that we as a leadership keep them in mind in terms of impact whenever a change in process needs to be made.
Within the last 12 months, Renee has acted as our Customer Services team’s representative on our corporate Accessibility Community of Practice committee. The Community of Practice supports the development of our policies and distribution of knowledge to have widespread accountability throughout the organization. Members of this committee act as a representative of the organization as a whole and are champions of equity, diversity, and inclusion. This role includes a time commitment between 5 to 10 percent; inclusive of monthly meetings and time to research, collaborate and build out the standards/policies. This work includes analyzing the accessibility at all levels for Alberta Blue Cross, from our facilities to our website to ensure that all employees and all members have equal accessibility.
In addition, Renee has helped develop our mentor training program this year. This program helps us train existing phone staff on how to effectively mentor our new hire representatives. Renee not only helped put together the training documentation including the expectations of the mentors; she has also facilitated most of our mentor training sessions over the last several months. This not only opens up time for our team leads to spend more time doing one-on-one coaching with representatives, but it also helps us build skillsets in some of our existing more tenured CSRS. The goal is to encourage these individuals to continue to build their leadership skills and help the department in its succession planning for future leadership roles.
Under her coaching and guidance, her direct reports as a team have achieved a contacts resolved rate of 91.77%, CSR Csat of 88.70%, WCC rate of 86.33%.
Her team has also maintained an action alert contact rate of under 5%.
Gina Beaver — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City
Gina Beaver has worked for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) for 14 years in multiple Customer Service roles. She has consistently been World Class Certified each year she held an eligible role. She was able to achieve certification within the first few months of becoming a Supervisor and maintained it for the rest of the year. Gina has an extreme passion for delivering World Class Service to not only her team but to our members even as she has climbed into a leadership role. She leads by example and still dives in to help her team and our customers in any way possible. The following story is one example of how she supported an employee and a member by taking this escalated call. It is a powerful example of how Gina leads her team by example and embodies the company’s passion for showing the member how much BlueKC puts Members First and how Gina treats every issue as if it was her own or for someone she loves deeply.
Here is Gina’s story from her perspective:
On February 15, 2022, I began working with “Sue”, a 37-year-old woman, wife, and mother of two young children who was actively battling cancer. “Sue” needed help using her Blue KC benefits to purchase a wig. The challenge she was experiencing, in what should have been, relatively speaking, the easiest part of her cancer journey, was that the only place where she could purchase a wig using her Blue KC benefits did not have a wig in stock that matched her current style. In addition, “Sue” was facing a four-month waiting period to get an appointment and unfortunately the quality of the wigs they offered, in general, was poor and in some cases used or donated.
Fortunately, “Sue” had already found a provider who could provide a wig that not only matched her current hair color but also her texture and hairstyle. She would be able to continue her cancer journey looking as close as possible to her pre-cancer appearance, something that was extremely important to her as a mom. “Sue” had already been fitted for the wig; however, this provider was Out-of-Network, meaning Blue KC did not have a contract with them. “Sue’s” desired wig would cost her $2,400, and because the provider did not accept insurance, she would be responsible for the entire amount. After speaking with Sue, I understood what she needed, what was important to her, and what she was facing, not just in purchasing this wig, but also in her ongoing battle with cancer. I knew Blue KC could and would want to do more for her, so I introduced her to one of our oncology case managers, a nurse, who would assist her with her ongoing medical needs, such as prior authorizations, services, and benefits, as well as ensuring her emotional and other health needs were supported.
Purchasing a wig is a highly personal experience. A decent synthetic wig can range in cost from as low as $150 (for a very basic, non-personalized fit) to $650. For individuals battling cancer or who have the need for a wig, a human hair wig is the most realistic option, but the cost starts at $1200 and can quickly go into the thousands. Synthetic wigs are mass-produced, enabling a more reasonable price point, but often do not provide someone with the natural, consistent look they are hoping to achieve. Human hair wigs are undoubtedly the most realistic option, but also are more expensive to source due to the personalized cap-fit construction, the quality and length of hair, and the fact that they are often hand-crafted to create a more individualized product.
Women dealing with medical hair loss are not looking for a hat or a costume. They are trying to maintain a sense of normalcy and self, something to replace the hair they are losing or have lost, and that looks like them. Allowing them to feel comfortable and confident enough to wear it in front of their children or out in public without being obvious they are wearing a wig. This is not the moment in their life where they do not want to stand out in a crowd, feel as if people are staring at them, or deal with individuals asking them about their cancer. These women want to blend in, not make it obvious to the world they are going through chemo. For most, the lower-cost, mass-produced, and more generally available wigs cannot provide this. Hair loss can be extremely traumatizing for women. A wig is something that is not covered by clothing. EVERYONE sees it!
“Sue's” needs were specific and the only way to match her natural, curly style was with human hair, and a customized wig, which could be permed to recreate “her” curls. Unfortunately for her, there truly were no believable synthetic, less-expensive options available that would prevent her from feeling or looking like she was wearing a helmet. I truly wish there were greater access to high-quality, personalized wigs at a thoughtful price not only for “Sue” but for other Blue KC members who need wigs.
“Sue” advised she would have complete hair loss by the upcoming weekend and with a two-week timeframe to order and receive her wig, time was of the essence. I searched extensively for other providers in our service area who might have wigs available that would meet her needs. I was able to locate another store; however, this provider only offered synthetic wigs that did not meet or match her hair needs and would require replacement after a few years. While real-hair wigs are more expensive, they generally do not need to be replaced.
As I previously shared, maintaining a sense of normalcy and self can be a critical piece in one’s journey to successfully fight cancer, and “Sue” is no different. “Sue” clearly remembers coming home from school when she was a young girl and seeing her mother, who also battled breast cancer, without hair. “Sue” did not want her own children to see her like that or have to carry those memories with them knowing how traumatic it was for her. She also clearly recalls that when her mother did receive a wig, it was so completely different than her natural hair, her mother no longer looked like herself. “Sue” asked me to help her maintain “herself” during her battle, so her children would not have the same memory of her. It was at this moment; I became more determined than ever to do whatever I could do to get her the wig she so desperately needed and deserved!
I quickly engaged our prior authorization department, who advised we could not process “Sue’s” request to purchase her personalized, human-hair wig from this non-contracted provider at an In-Network level. Knowing I could not give up, I then contacted our Escalation team. “Sue” was going through a lot, and I knew getting a wig should be the least of her concerns. I remained in constant communication with “Sue” throughout this process and worked diligently with our Escalation team to find a means to get an exception for the wig using this provider for our member, a mom fighting for her life and some sense of normalcy for her family & children. Our contracting team engaged the provider to consider a Single Case Agreement (SCA) for our member so that she would receive the wig she was originally fitted for.
Ten days passed, and “Sue” was actively going through chemotherapy treatment. Her platelets were low, she was understandably exhausted, and was not going to be healthy enough to pick up her wig given her immune system was so compromised. I continued working behind the scenes to ensure we could find a solution to meet “Sue’s” needs, and even worked closely with the provider to have the wig delivered to “Sue”, so she would not have to leave home to pick it up.
On March 3, 2022, the SCA was submitted, and I was beyond excited and hopeful! Sadly, that excitement was short-lived because the provider could not agree to the rates being proposed because of the costs they incur to make this custom wig. Not giving up, I then requested Blue KC to consider processing this member’s wig claim as In-Network and paying for the wig at the provider’s billed charges. This not only ensured “Sue” would receive her wig but also guaranteed she would not be responsible for any amount beyond the allowed charges (also known as balance billing).
On March 15, 2022, my request to pay for “Sue’s” wig as In-Network at 100% of billed charges was approved. I was elated and I could not wait to contact “Sue”! I will never forget this call. She cried, I cried, we cried together. A truly fantastic, memorable moment!
This is why I love doing my job! I had the chance to not only help someone, someone who did not ask to be sick but to make a difference for her and her family. “Sue” was someone who simply wanted to continue to be and look like herself, especially when she was with her children. It felt incredible to help “Sue” identify a solution to her problem and make a difference for a member in need!
As you can see Gina cares deeply for our members and took this opportunity to demonstrate to “Sue” how much we care for our members and are willing to help in their most desperate times of need. Gina has stayed in contact with “Sue” who is now cancer free! “Sue” recently shared with Gina that her son when reminded of the wig said, “Mom, I completely forgot it was a wig because it looked exactly like your real hair.” This meant the world to “Sue” as she was able to protect her children’s memories of this difficult time the best she could and shield them from the memories she has of her mother when she faced the same diagnosis. If that does not make Gina’s effort worth it, I don’t know what would.
Please consider Gina Beaver for Supervisor of the Year!
Paris Brown — BlueCross BlueShield of Texas (Federal Employee Program)
Nominations submitted by Paris Brown’s team:
I would like to nominate Paris Brown as Supervisor of the Year! Since I came back on his part-time crew, I have felt so welcome, and he has helped me succeed in so many ways. I never hesitate to ask him for help or go to him with any questions I may have because he is so welcoming and helpful! I’ve had struggles in a few aspects of my life and he has been supportive and has always offered to get me the help I need. In my work life and life in general he just genuinely cares about his Team and to me that is what makes a great leader. If you want people to follow you and listen, they need to be able to trust you and know that in turn, you will be there for them. Paris has never wavered in this aspect; he is there for his whole team and cares for each of us. We are more than a team. I have never had a supervisor that has made it so easy to ask questions and offer guidance because they genuinely want you to succeed and be the best at what you do. Paris goes above and beyond for each of us, he lets us know where we need improvement and helps us get there. He deserves all the recognition! He makes us want to be great and lead like he does!
Paris goes above and beyond being a World Class Supervisor. Each year we face many challenges in Customer Service, and Paris did not back down in 2022. He has provided support not only to his unit but to the whole department. That support has helped improve our quality and exceed our department and individual goals.
Paris never fails to encourage and support our team, whether it's the daily motivation he provides in our TEAMS Channel or the information he gives us during huddles. During each huddle Paris hosts, he presents us with the knowledge and skill set needed to improve our First Call Resolution and CSAT. Paris has ensured our team understands how effective Ulysses is, how important it is to resolve our callers' issues the first time, and how we can find resolutions for these difficult situations. He breaks down our individual and department goals simply so we can measure ourselves for improvement. By providing this information, he has opened new areas for improvement and given our team the tools to achieve and exceed these goals.
2022 was one of the busiest years when it came to training. One time in particular, Paris presented my Co-CAS and me with training that provided the knowledge and skills required to handle calls that we needed help to resolve beforehand. Our Customer Advocates often receive calls requiring them to access letters located in Smart UM only. Not all Customer Advocates have access to this system and must reach out to a CAS to get a copy of the letter they need. Being new to the CAS role, my Co-CAS and I had yet to be shown how to navigate this system which caused us to rely on our other CAS team members to provide this information to our Customer Advocates. Paris stepped up and facilitated us with the training required to navigate this system and provide our Customer Advocates with the necessary information to resolve their call promptly. This training not only improved our inventory by reducing the number of cases pended for assistance in obtaining the letters but also increased our First Call Resolution by providing our members the information they need on their first call and preventing the need for a callback.
As a leader, it is always hard to see your team facing challenges with performance. Whenever a team member struggled, Paris was sure to have that team member surrounded by a support system that would help them become successful Customer Advocates. When a CA of our own was struggling with call flow and research while on the call, Paris gathered information from our Quality department, DS team, and us CAS to provide positive coaching and access to a support system to help achieve better quality. The CA was able to improve their quality surpassing the expectations set by the department.
Whether it's from a Customer Advocate within our unit or another, Paris has always been available to assist our team with escalated calls. From giving excellent de-escalation advice to taking over the call, he has been outstanding at helping resolve these issues. I couldn't count all the times Paris has taken an escalated call, but one time does stand out. A Customer Advocate from another team reached out to Paris asking for assistance with a caller requesting to speak with a supervisor. We encourage Customer Advocates to attempt to de-escalate the caller if able, but this caller was beyond de-escalation. The CA cold transferred the caller to Paris in error, as we would typically warm transfer escalated calls. The callers' issue was that they needed assistance to find in-network providers within their area, and it would generally be a simple call for a member-trained CA. Paris resolved all the callers' issues and provided the Customer Advocate with constructive feedback to help de-escalate any future similar calls and the proper way to transfer these calls.
While we have many excellent supervisors here at HCSC, Paris has earned recognition in his position. He has not only taken our LEAD goals and implemented them in every way possible, but he has also given our team and department his undivided attention and addressed every situation with clear, concise, and detailed resolutions. Paris provided our unit with a level of support that has brought our team closer together and helped us grow throughout the year. He has not missed a beat during the good times and the bad, and we greatly appreciate him for that!
I would like to nominate Paris Brown for Supervisor of the Year for many reasons. Paris not only helped me become a better customer advocate specialist but a better person. He cares about the team on a professional and personal level. I have never had a supervisor go so far as to ensure his team is professionally and personally at their best every single day.
Paris became a supervisor when I became a customer advocate specialist. With both of us being new to our positions, I was scared. Paris came into his position with so much positivity, strength, knowledge, and motivation. He led our team with no doubts about success. I can say he personally inspired me to be the best in my new role every single day. My counterpart customer advocate specialist was out for maternity right after our team was formed and Paris encouraged me to be the best specialist each day. I was not entirely sure what to expect in my new role. Paris worked with me every day to fulfill my duties as a new advocate specialist. He held my hand with expectations and how to meet individual goals as well as the team and department goals.
Paris comes in each day to touch base with our team – on a group and personal level. He finds if there are any technical issues and leads the team to the correct steps to correct and/or fix them. If a ticket gets called in on an individual issue, he personally calls in to rush the ticket for a quick resolution. This helps our team always perform with all the tools necessary to give our customers the best call experience each and every time. If a personal situation comes up for anyone – Paris will reach out to that individual and help them to find help, take the time needed to recover, and work at their highest level. Each morning he highlights what the schedule looks like. The team knows what to expect each moment of the day and never wonders whom to reach out to if he is not in or whom to turn to with supervisor-level questions. Paris finds ways to engage with the team every day. He will send us updates with a question of the day. You can tell it is important to him to know each one of us on a deeper level to better help us with any troubles that come our way.
This past year – I had many hardships come my way. Paris was there for each one of them. When I was diagnosed with cancer – my first call was to my wife, my second – Paris. I knew that I could call him and work out a plan to make sure that I would not miss a beat here at work. He helped me come up with a work plan for my time off that would not interrupt the daily functions of our team. He worked with our manager to let her know what was happening, what to expect, and what he had come up with to cover my absence. Paris personally checked in on me and my family during my recovery and medical leave. Made sure that our team ran without a hitch with me gone. He supported my counterpart with encouragement, tools to assist the team with CAS support, and reaching out to her for personal support. When I came back to work, Paris helped me ease back into the new policies and procedures that were updated while I was away.
Paris is our team’s biggest advocate. He advocates for us to have the training, the smoothest transitions to new policies, and set our goals for moving forward with our company, which is an exemplary example of our company’s LEAD behaviors. He is an amazing model of who I would want to be as a supervisor or any management-level position. He encourages us to have the highest level of ethics and contact not only here at work – but in our personal lives. He communicates with us goals and expectations on an honest level. If anyone has a question, he either has the answer or works diligently to get the right answer each time. Paris ensures that our team has all the tools needed to complete our jobs. He works with us on a personal level to get us ready for training and meeting goals. Paris takes time out of his busy schedule to reach out and touch base with me and all our advocates if he sees that we are struggling with something specific. There was a time when I was having trouble processing Medicare claims. Paris reached out and sent me tools and procedures to correct the current claims and keep from having the same issue again. He reached out to the developmental specialist team and found one that would work with me for any additional questions and training.
Paris Brown is the best supervisor that I have ever had – even outside of HCSC. He motivates me to be the best I can be every single day. He encourages me to reach out for more opportunities to grow in my role with the company and the community. Paris leads by example not only to me but our team. Paris is flexible, dependable, knowledgeable, and knows no bounds on encouragement for our team. Paris is the reason I made it through the last year. Had he not been there for me professionally as well as personally – I would have never been able to not only recover with ease but come back from leave and get back into the groove of work without Paris. HCSC is a better place with him as a shining star of a leader.
I would like to nominate my supervisor Paris Brown to be SQM Supervisor of the Year. Paris is an overall great supervisor. He makes sure we are taken care of, whether in or out of work. He wants us to know he cares for us. As far as making sure we are good on our goals, he lets us know at any time we can reach out for help from him or any of our CAS. He really wants everyone on his team to do well and succeed!
Jennifer Ritchie — First West Credit Union
I am honored to nominate my colleague Jennifer Ritchie for the 2022 Supervisor of the Year Award. Jen is the epitome of a values-based leader. Jen knows her values and lives them every day – she truly walks the walk. It’s this level of authenticity that enables her to be such an impactful and influential leader, and it shows not only in her individual performance but perhaps most notably through the tremendous accomplishments of her team.
Leading people is tough. Leading many people is tougher. Leading many people that happen to have varying strengths and communication styles, and most of whom are brand new to the organization…well that’s a tall order. That basically summarizes Jen’s 2022, leading a team of 10-14 brand new advisors at any given moment. Jen was heavily involved in our team recruitment and interviews and was a big believer in hiring candidates based on their great attitude over industry experience. Throughout 2022 Jen onboarded 14 new hires to her team: onboarding them into our organizational culture while simultaneously launching role-specific advisor training. Recognizing this as a huge opportunity, Jen capitalized on the unique ability to build a high-performing team from the ground up and worked alongside our Training Advisor to create a team dynamic that supported one another. A huge advocate for learning and growth, Jen prioritized her team coaching and skill building above all else. At the same time, Jen continued to build her own capacity for coaching by sharpening her skills through a unique internal program called “Leader as a Coach”, and through dedicated Emotional Intelligence training.
This recipe worked…well! 6 of her team members received career promotions throughout the year due to exemplary performance, and 5 advisors on her team were recently named to have achieved SQM World Class Certification. Jen did many things well in 2022, reviewing calls with advisors and providing feedback frequently, ongoing performance and career coaching, an open-door policy with her team, communication transparency, honesty, and integrity, placing high emphasis on learning and development, and working with peers towards a seamless onboarding experience for new team members. But perhaps the most impactful activity of all, one which ties into every other piece of the puzzle, is Jen’s encouragement of every single member of her team, and her goal of helping them build confidence in their own abilities. Her encouragement and authenticity make her a leader you’re proud to work for, and in turn, her team delivered incredible service experiences to thousands of members over the course of the year. Well done, Jen!
Trevor Raymond – VSP Vision Care
Trevor masterfully navigates his resources and finds fun and creative ways to engage his team, which creates a supportive environment and helps develop constructive conversations between him and his staff.
Here is feedback from one of Trevor’s CSRs:
“Trevor is the best I have ever worked with! It doesn't matter what or when WE need anything he is there for our team and our company throughout it all. Go TEAM TREVOR!”
Feedback shared from Trevor:
“2022 was a year where we as a team focused on growing into our roles and working together to support each other as we went through training and applied all of the new information learned. The majority of my team at the start of 2022 were contractors who converted to full-time VSP employees and the average tenure on my team at the end of 2022 was around 6 months. For my team, my goal was to create an atmosphere where they felt comfortable asking questions and supporting each other as we worked through calls. The team really bonded on this and CSRs, when they had the chance, were eager to jump in and help where they could. Our team chat became a place where the CSRs could interact, lift up a challenge they worked through and ask for best practices or simply ask how everyone’s day was going. Transparency and trust are vital components of a successful team, and I worked every day to support my team with honest and direct feedback, praise when they achieved a goal, and support when they did not. From a coaching standpoint, the focus was, and is, always on First Call Resolution and driving positive interactions on every call. We talked as a team and individually about how we can drive FCR, what we need to get better at, and what we were doing well that aided in that effort. Sharing success stories and best practices was key to driving the team-centered focus as well as doing things like peer mentoring where I had tenured CSR’s meeting with new hires to review processes and calls and to help shape their focus around FCR and effective caller engagement. I also challenged my team to come to me with any concerns they had so we could work through them together. Each situation was addressed, and my team had the confidence and trust in me that they could come to me with whatever they had, feel supported, and that if I did not have the answer I would let them know that and work quickly to get back to them. I challenged my team to model that behavior when working with callers and to not be afraid to say I don’t know and assure the caller that they would quickly work to find the needed information. This mindset helped the team feel more comfortable in working through challenging situations and ensured we were consistently focused on FCR.
As the team has grown and developed, we are focused on career development opportunities. I had one CSR participate in Project Eye and was grateful for the experience and knowledge gained. He has since brought that back to the team and has helped with several challenging situations. I have several other representatives that are actively pursuing roles in Claims, SQ, and leadership and I am looking forward to supporting them in these efforts in 2023.”
Feedback shared from Trevor’s Manager:
“Trevor’s leadership shifted last year from the support of contingent workforce to that of leading and developing full-time VSP employees. He didn’t miss a beat in driving the importance of overall customer satisfaction, even before the conversions took place, which really created a foundation of commitment and understanding of how to deliver the legacy of World Class Service that VSP is known for.
Trevor has successfully developed a highly engaged and enabled workforce, which highlights his ability to coach effectively, create an atmosphere of respect and inclusivity, and connect the dots for his team with regard to understanding the relationship between their job and the strategy and goals of VSP, and how each customer interaction is a chance to show our public that we CARE!
He has consistently demonstrated his commitment to delivering World Class Service to each of our callers through various levels of coaching and communication across the CSRs he has been charged to lead and develop. I wasn’t shocked to see the nomination from one of his CSRs, as not a week passes where I don’t hear the same message echoed throughout his team!”