2015 Top CSR WCC Improvement Finalist Stories
THE SMILE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LINE
“I put my heart into my job and I’m proud of where I work and what I do”
I began my journey with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas in January of 2014. I have always been really good at communicating and relating to people and I thought this could really be for me. Training went wonderfully and before we knew it we were out on the floor released to provide our members with excellent service.
Through the months after leaving training, I felt pretty good. Calls were going smoothly and life was great. Then I began getting errors here and there for different things. I began getting frustrated. My errors were never for the same things and it seemed like I was starting to drown. I was overthinking and over analyzing everything and beginning to lose myself and my purpose to provide excellent service to members. I began trying to fit anything and everything in to make sure I didn’t make any more mistakes. The members I was trying to help were truly not getting the best experience because I was so concerned about not making a mistake that I was overwhelming them. The harder I tried the worse their customer experience was because my emotional strain had taken my smile and taken the heart I put into my calls away. I was then put on an improvement plan and shortly after an action plan. The stress was piling on and I was lost.
While on the action plan I will never forget the amount of stress and emotional strain I experienced. I remember having my things packed at my desk with the lingering knowledge that with one bad day and three errors a month my last day could be any day. There were countless days where I would just break down crying thinking that this job I had grown to love could come to an end at any minute. I remember endless conversations with my supervisor, Drew, telling me he knew I could do it and we would work through this struggle. He never doubted that I would come out of the drought and he had all the confidence I wouldn’t just come out of it but that I would come out stronger and more knowledgeable!
With the help of my supervisor and fellow co-workers I began sorting through what I was doing wrong. I found I was trying to fit too much information in to cover all the ‘what ifs.’ I was setting myself up for failure. I began not taking my errors as a personal failure but as a learning experience to help me grow. I started listening more closely to what was actually being asked and making sure to clarify any assumptions I may have. I slowed way down, got down to the heart of the problem and focused more on making sure accurate and complete information was being given and that I was truly taking care of the member to their expectations.
Additionally, I began taking a look at my wording. I began leaving off the, “If I can’t get this done I will call you back” and instead told members, “I will take care of this for you and I won’t close my inquiry until I have it complete.” I felt it was important to let them know I care and I am going to make them my priority. Of course if I had an issue and needed to call them back I would but I didn’t need to plant the seed for them to think that I couldn’t resolve their crisis.
My calls became more natural and my confidence began to build. I went from trying to fill in every ‘what if’ hole and began building a castle showing we can conquer anything! I make sure I can give the member peace of mind. I show them I am here and I let them know I will do all I can to resolve their issue so they know it is done right. I listen, COMPLETELY listen, to their verbal and non-verbal cues. I put myself in their shoes and show them I am here for them and I want to make sure they know they have me to help get their issue resolved.
I put my heart into my job and I’m proud of where I work and what I do. I am not inconvenienced by callers. I’m honored that they put their trust in us and know that we will take good care of them because we care. Although my answer may not be what they want to hear all the time, my goal is to let them know we will do all we can to make sure they know they’re valued by us. My favorite part is being the smile on the other side of the line who they can trust! By taking pride in my job I take every call to provide the topline care they deserve and when they are asked, they have no doubt they received world class service because they know I am here for them!
Heather Wachs – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas
REDEFINING THE CUSTOMER SERVICE EXPERIENCE
“He decided that this was not the direction he wanted”
It’s something we tend to overlook…in his years as a customer care specialist for ENMAX, he knew there was something that had started to decline with him. He was never an agent that needed to be told he wasn’t performing to expectations, just that he wasn’t exceeding them when it came to his SQM regarding World Class Calls and First Call Resolution. He didn’t believe there was anything wrong on his part as he was no rookie, having been with the organization for quite some time. However, over time, as we all do he found his scores declining which he attributed to an increasing sense of apathy. He decided that this was not the direction he wanted to continue going and immediately set out to change things for the better.
And change them he did. He reviewed the scores he had received over the last few months and decided to put forward a plan of action. He started to utilized his Team Lead more effectively and asked him to sit with him weekly to provide real time coaching. He reviewed the feedback from his side-by-side’s and monthly coaching sessions. He submitted online forms to have a Quality Assurance Specialist sit with him to evaluate his performance and requested to sit with consistently high achieving performers on the team to gain insight from them as how to better improve his results. Did implementing these actions work? Within a shorter timeframe than he expected, he saw his SQM results increase exponentially month over month, leading him to believe that golden rule, “Take care of the customer and the business will take care of itself”. He can honestly say that he is now a firm believer and the results speak for themselves.
He really shows ENMAX is “We’re on for you”
Rajesh Gill – ENMAX, Inc.
ON A MISSION TO GET POSITIVE RESULTS
“She had all of the tools and the will, she just needed a few more skills”
When we began our partnership with SQM, Gloria struggled. She lacked confidence in her conversations with members. She was in the habit of “talking through” a process with her caller on the line, listening. This resulted in lower Call Resolved and Member Satisfaction scores. Instead of owning an issue, Gloria was transparent in the steps it took: “I’ll have to call my lead,” “I need to check with membership on that,” which undermined the callers’ confidence in her.
Gloria wanted to deliver world class service. She had all of the tools and the will, she just needed a few more skills.
Working together, Gloria and I created an Action Plan. We listened to calls, both together and separately. We focused on the caller’s perception. With an end goal in sight we determined the issue was confidence. We created a plan that included:
- Personal accountability to obtain resolution
- Instead of “they” she began using “I”
- Reducing transparency; instead of “I need to check with a lead” she changed her verbiage to “I need to do a little more research”
- Using open hold
- Instead of working through a problem verbally with the caller listening on the line, Gloria began using an open hold to research the issue and find a solution
Phrases such as, “I don’t have any idea what’s going on,” or, “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” disappeared.
During the ‘open hold’ where the caller could speak and Gloria would hear, but Gloria couldn’t be heard by the caller, she was able to attain resolution without confusing or concerning the caller.
- When listening to calls separately, I asked for Gloria’s thoughts. Typically, she responded, “it was all okay”
- I honestly responded with suggestions or kudos
It took about three months of review and partnership. Gloria also listened to and partnered with other successful representatives for tips. At the end of the review, she was sustaining World Class Call percentage in excess of 80%.
Gloriz Fritz – Regence BlueCross BlueShield
GOING THE EXTRA MILE
“Never settle for anything less than world class”
Kirk had a sub-par customer service experience with his own medical provider. It was during this interaction that he made the decision he would do everything in his power to give each caller the best customer experience possible. He tailored his servicing skills to avoid any negative experiences he had encountered, such as: being placed on hold without being asked, speaking over others, having side conversations, and not resolving the reason for the call, resulting in an additional call.
From this moment on he paid close attention to the mood and pace of his caller. He matched their pace and he brought in a personal touch to each call. Whether it is, “How are you doing today Mr. Smith?” or he’s adding a bit of humor into the conversation.
He continued to work on his techniques, paying close attention to each caller and customizing the interaction. Being warm and caring has always been one of Kirk’s strongest attributes, but he now has become a champion of securing the emotional confidence of his callers. He provides them clear information that’s easy for them to understand and maintains a commitment to FCR. He goes that extra mile to ensure all of his callers’ needs are met by ensuring his callers are not leaving with something to do after the call ends. Due to his passion and commitment to our valued callers, Kirk has improved 14% this year on his world class calls, ending 2015 at 95%.
Kirk Chase – VSP Vision Care
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS
“Great people do not dwell on the past, instead they focus on what they can change to improve themselves”
Irene, being a tenured employee of 16 years, was disappointed to know she was not world class certified for 2014. This was not a position she was used to being in and it was difficult to accept that for once, she was not world class certified. However, great people do not dwell on the past, instead they focus on what they can change to improve themselves. This was Irene’s mentality in 2015 as she went back to the basics of building rapport, extending herself to the customer, and positively positioning the plan to the customer.
Throughout 2015, Irene took part in various training classes that focused on how to increase her VOC and worked with her supervisor on how to better position herself throughout the call. By focusing on positive positioning, Irene switched the customer’s focus from the problem to how she could help resolve the customer’s issue. When asked what her biggest reason for improving was, she replied, “It was my change of mind set. I went back to being myself and really started to enjoy my calls more and I believe it was apparent to my customers.”
It was clear how much Irene was positively impacting our customers when I received a personalized letter from a customer who encountered an issue with their plan eligibility, the letter read, “I was still physically weak from illness and chasing from my company’s HR department to my husband’s ophthalmologist to my VSP plan, which left me in tears. It was then that I called VSP (for the second or third time) and got connected with Irene Dent. She was so very kind to me. She understood that I was physically worn out. She went into the files, verified whatever it was that she needed to verify, and called my husband’s eye doctor to give them a temporary guarantee of insurance. For people outside the insurance industry, coverage often looks like a big blank (yet bewildering) wall. I’m extremely grateful that people like Irene exist to help people in tears like me.”
It was a wonderful feeling when I could inform Irene that she was once again world class certified and that all of her hard work in 2015 paid off.
Irene Dent – VSP Vision Care
2014 Top CSR WCC Improvement Finalist Stories
“Turn a negative situation into a positive experience”
Lori showed an impressive 16% increase in her World Class Calls from 2013 to 2014. In addition, Lori’s dedication in servicing her members can be seen in her other servicing attributes for 2014. Through Lori’s use of the Eight Step Process, coaching, focus feedbacks, service mentor and the desire to do the best for her members, she worked to improve her overall percentage of World Class Calls and her First Call Resolution rate. Throughout Lori’s tenure at our company, in her role as a Member Service Representative, she has shown outstanding compassion in servicing the member population. Lori takes her time to ensure that each member she services leaves the call with the assurance that their issue has been heard and resolved. To support that, Lori was nominated by a satisfied member and recognized through our employee recognition program in 2014.
Below are a few comments from satisfied members provided via SQM surveys: “Lori took care of my problem and made sure it was fixed with great patience and respect. She answered my question, she even gave me some additional information that I hadn’t thought of but I was grateful for that. I was satisfied because she was very professional and handled everything I asked for and did everything she said she would do. She was prompt, polite, she resolved my issue and she had great patience explaining something to me.” Lori also displays great ability to turn a negative situation into a positive experience. “She handled all my questions professionally. The rep analyzed the claim and is resubmitting it for any adjustment. Because she solved my problem, very simply.” Due to Lori’s hard work and devotion to servicing our members to the fullest, she was recently promoted to a new role as a Quality Reviewer. In this role, she is able to share her servicing passion and skills to help CSRs build upon their strengths and learn from their weaknesses as we continued to focus on “the member experience.”
Lori Guy-Robinson – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
FROM ALL BUSINESS TO OUTSTANDING
“Imagine the feeling when I realized I was actually the worst representative”
Working in a World Class call center is amazing, until you realize you are not one of those World Class representatives. As if not being a World Class representative wasn’t bad enough, imagine the feeling when I realized I was actually the worst representative in the department. This was me at the end of 2013, the bottom of the list at 71%, not a good feeling. I was disappointed in myself and felt I let my team and the call center down. Instead of feeling down in the dumps, I used this opportunity to take a look at what was setting me apart from my peers and challenged myself to meet the goal of becoming a World Class Certified CSR in 2014. I pushed myself to discover what I was doing wrong, and what I could do better. That being said, it wasn’t easy for me.
Week after week, I was disappointed with another bad survey. Most of the time they appeared to like me, but something was still not connecting. So I asked for extra help not only from my Team Lead, but another representative who was performing well in this area. I would reach out to them and ask “what would you have done on this call?” and “what could I have done differently?” I received one on one coaching sessions from my Team Lead focusing on analyzing my calls to hear and find those opportunities. Week after week, I was given new ideas from my Team Lead to try, such as different phrasing options, focusing on tone of voice, and how to connect with the caller. I tried each one, but one day something clicked when my Team Lead said to me, “you sound like a robot” and “you are all business”. While this was hard for me to hear, she was absolutely correct, I did sound like a robot. This was the aha moment for me. I did care about my customers, but you could not feel that connection when listening to my calls.
After working in this call center for almost eight years, I was all business. While I was focused on ensuring first call resolution, I was jumping right to the solution and not listening to the customer’s emotional side or being where the customer needed me to be. I had thought that I was showing my caring by getting right to the solution, but this did not have the intended impact. I was missing the acknowledgements such as, “congratulations on your new baby” or, “I’m so sorry for the loss of your father”. My Team Lead reminded me that while I may have taken the same type of call with the same type of issue multiple times that day, this was the first time the customer was encountering this issue and I needed to take them through that journey and earn their trust. So I took that advice and week after week my surveys were improving and coming back with resolved, World Class, and even with outstanding feedback. Because of the help and guidance of my Team Lead, who I truly owe this turn around to, I went from being at the bottom of the World Class percentage ranking to one of the top representatives. I was able to increase my World Class percentage from 71% to 91%. I feel that this was my greatest accomplishment in 2014.
Amy Duhamel – BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont
DIG A LITTLE DEEPER
“Peter went the extra mile to ensure our customer’s needs are met.”
When we think of customer service we often refer to “soft skills”, an incredibly important part of any customer service role, but has anyone thought about “Peter skills”? Achieving a 31% World Class improvement in 2014 is no easy feat, and certainly not done without a little creative thinking. Peter’s style on the phone is often something the leadership team jokes about wishing we could bottle, adding his creative thinking to our ICBC brand. In this particular situation Peter received a call for a claims history letter. Upon review of the requested letter, Peter and the customer became involved in a conversation regarding multiple at fault claims which came as a surprise to the customer and a frustration towards Peter. Although frustrated by the surprising outcome, our customer had received their initial request and the call could have ended with a standard closing remark – putting himself in the customers shoes Peter decided to dig a little deeper.
Through an interview with our SQM Quality Assurance Supervisor I learned one of Peter’s best assets is his ability to relate to a customer’s concern, seeing situations through their eyes. Although the customer did not ask, Peter offered to review their CRS discount believing there may be a possibility to save our customer money while maintaining a positive perception of Peter, the Call Center and ICBC. Drawing upon his extensive product knowledge and thorough review, Peter noticed the customer’s discount on his current plate was in fact incorrect. The customer had Learners License history which had been mistakenly missed, improving the discount by two levels resulting in a significant financial savings. It’s of no surprise the call ended on a positive note; Peter went the extra mile to ensure our customer’s needs are met. Building trust with our customers is one of our main goals at ICBC, Peter’s consistent drive to follow through on our commitment is clear in each call which is why I am nominating Peter for this award.
Peter O’Meara – Insurance Corporation of BC
STRIVE FOR IMPROVEMENT
“I’m very proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished, and I look forward to getting even better next year.”
I admit that it was a challenge for me to handle a mortgage account like Nationstar Mortgage when I started. It was a complete 360 degree turn from what I used to do as a travel agent for more than 4 years. At first, I found it difficult to adapt to this new line of business because it was a totally foreign concept to me, being in the Philippines, where we don’t have mortgages. One thing both jobs have in common was that call resolution was the key. Since realizing this, it became my primary goal, and I managed to improve my call resolution skill by mastering my product knowledge. I take the time to read communications, training tips, and the updates sent. This helped me a lot in terms of decision making, and it helped me boost the customer’s confidence towards me and the business.
As a customer service representative, I understand that we represent Nationstar Mortgage. Building the confidence of our customer is the principal goal that we need to achieve. I keep in mind that the customer sees me as Nationstar and not just a mere customer service representative. So, it’s critical that I am capable of giving appropriate assistance and reliable options to each and every call. At the end of the day, if I want to achieve call resolution, I need to know what I’m doing, which is why being an expert on the product is so important. The coaching and support that I received from my mentors, and the feedback that I got from SQM helped me improve my overall CSAT score from 43% in 2013 to 66% in 2014. Not only did my SQM scores improve, but all of my performance metrics got better. Treat your customers just like how you treat your grandmother, this was my very first lesson when I became a customer service representative. At first, it did not make any sense to me. All I knew was to resolve the customer’s concern and that’s the end of it. But eventually it gave me a wider view of being a customer service representative, to give extra care to our customer.
I noticed how it helped a lot when you try to laugh at times with the customer, or try to relate with where they are coming from. I may sound different over the phone than in my normal speaking voice, but it feels good when you help someone as if you were there beside them all the way through. Here’s what one of the customers had to say about me in a commendation e-mail they sent to my supervisor: “He gave me the information I wanted and his name was Greg. He was great, and I’d like to speak to him again. He also gave me a little insight into your business since I have not received anything from your company because you just got my mortgage without my knowledge.” I feel like I’ve made a huge improvement over the past year, I’m very proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished, and I look forward to getting even better next year.
Abraham (Greg) Muyco – Nationstar Mortgage
RAISING THE BAR
“I made it a priority to ensure that my callers knew that I was focused on them”
As I reflected on my overall performance at the end of 2013, I decided to challenge myself to improve my World Class Status. The previous year, my goal was to attain World Class status, which I was able to do with 82% World Class Calls. I knew that I could do better in 2014, so I gave myself the goal of reaching a rating of 90%. I knew that this was an ambitious goal, but I was confident in my ability to attain it.
I decided that the easiest way to increase the World Class Call rating was to improve my CSR Csat and Call Center Csat ratings. If I was able to make the customer happy, I knew that this would greatly improve my chances of increasing my World Class status. I began by providing options to my callers whenever necessary. For example if an item was not covered on the plan I would check if they had the option for a health spending account, and failing that make them aware that they could also use medical expenses as a tax deduction. I would always take ownership of a situation, simply by telling a caller that I would be able to resolve their queries or concerns went a long way toward improving both my CSR Csat and Call Center Csat ratings. Taking ownership allowed my callers to be confident that I would be able to assist them. The customer satisfaction increases went hand in hand with my call resolution. By taking all of the necessary steps to ensure that I was satisfying my customers, I was also making sure that I was resolving the reason for their call. I always made sure that I was going the extra mile on each of my calls. This could have been by investigating multiple claims and having them adjusted, or by making sure I was answering all of their questions about their coverage or plan.
I made it a priority to ensure that my callers knew that I was focused on them, and that it was extremely important to me that I answered all of their questions. I really wanted them to know that they were the priority and that we are here to help them. By focusing on these areas, my World Class Calls began flooding in. As I started seeing these exciting results, I was motivated even further to continue this trend. This motivation allowed me to not only achieve my goal, but I exceeded it by finishing at 92% World Class Calls.
Lauren Balzer – Sun Life Financial
2013 Top Ten CSR for WCC Improvement Finalist Stories
NATURAL BORN GIFT
“The ‘natural’ part is the piece of building those customer relationships and having the passion to serve them.”
All of us here at our company are in positions where we serve others. Some of us fell into our positions perhaps through circumstances of life and others by careful choice. Either way, we are and have become very good at what we do. Our results demonstrate that. For some of us it takes work, and for others it seems they were born with a natural talent. This particular representative is a Customer Service ‘Natural’. Now, does someone who has the natural born gift still have to work to improve performance? Yes. The ‘natural’ part is the piece of building those customer relationships and having the passion to serve them. Because of the genuine love that this rep has for her customers, she welcomes feedback and applies that to her performance so that she can be of even greater service to her customers in the future. Her natural approach, focus on becoming more efficient (realizing that customers desire efficiency) and application of the coaching/feedback to her performance, has not only enhanced her customers’ experience but has heightened her overall job satisfaction as well. This is a direct reflection of her improved SQM VoC results. These results are fantastic! When we went over her results together, her first response was, “WOW! I wasn’t aware that the stats had increased that much.” When I ask her what she felt drove the improved results, she said, “I am focusing on what the customer wants and not on what I feel they need.” After thinking about her response, it became clear to me that she would not have been aware of the stats increasing that much because of where her focus was. Her focus was not on moving numbers; it was on enhancing and giving her customers the BEST possible service as well as being sure that the service was meeting their needs.
Here is what a few of her customers had to say: “She listened to what my request was; she looked it up immediately and I was on the phone less than 5 minutes”, “She was efficient, effective, pleasant and knowledgeable. Her voice is like ambrosia”, “She was precise. She knew exactly what she was doing. She knew the situation and resolved it quickly”, “She took very good care of me, she made me understand my plan and she took care of some other matters with the doctor’s office”, “I wasn’t even aware that I had coverage. She did an excellent job on it so thank you.” As you can see through the words that her customers used, this representative was able to handle their situations with ease. When someone can maneuver in and out of conversation with folks that they don’t even know, and this is done through the phone waves not in person, and yet they have a way of making one feel as if they have known you for years in the way that she does, that is a born ‘natural’.
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
“First and foremost, you have to truly have a passion and a desire to want to service your customer.”
This representative started his career in 2011, and for only having a few years under his belt and being ranked as “Most Improved” from both call centers, that in itself is quite impressive and really speaks highly of his work ethic. Over the past few years, he has been working on grasping a good solid understanding of our products and services as all of us have done as new employees. And all of us know that 2013 brought us all a lot of challenging changes, new business growth and opportunities. Not only was he challenged with knowing and understanding his role as an employee, he had to also keep up with all of our 2013 changes.
The representative sat down across from me the other day in a one-to-one session, and after sharing his VoC results and how much of an improvement he had made over his 2012 results, I asked the question, “Why do you think your results have shown such a significant improvement?” He shared that he has become much more comfortable with his role and feels that his knowledge level has improved which in turn allows him to deliver product and plan information to our customers in a more confident manner. Confidence; it’s amazing what “confidence” can do. During another one of our scheduled chats, he had shared one of his own personal customer service experiences. He was in need of having the tires on his car replaced. He knew exactly where he wanted to go and the reason why is because of the high level of quality service he had received a time before. He knows what kind of service that he himself has come to appreciate and expect, and he could not think of giving his customers anything less.
So how did he build his confidence? First and foremost, you have to truly have a passion and a desire to want to service your customer. Knowing and fully understanding that YOU guide customers in making decisions that result in the BEST outcome for them based solely on their needs, and knowing the impact that YOU have on the end result and ultimately our customer’s experience. I know that sounds pretty deep, but this is exactly what describes how this representative approaches each and every one of his customers. You also have to remain open and receptive to not only hearing the coaching opportunities but you need to “own it” which means applying the coaching to your performance. He remained focused all year, reviewing our intranet to become more familiar with our products, services and plans. He would set clear expectations with his customers, setting timelines for follow-up on situations he was researching.
Here are a few examples of comments from the representative’s customers. As you can see, the repeating theme that described him was: courteous, knowledgeable, willing to help, efficient, thorough, direct, clear, and professional resolution. All of those words = CONFIDENCE. “He was very direct, very to the point, very pleasant, and I would definitely like to talk with him again because he got the information that I needed”, “He was very informative and he gave me information”, “I was elated with the information that I got from him. He should be given a raise ‘, “He was very courteous and very efficient. I cannot say enough good about him. Thank you!”, “He was very polite and professional. He offered help beyond what was the norm, so I appreciated that. I will not have to revisit this problem again”, “He was very helpful, very informative; he knew what he was talking about. He was very friendly and he was quite helpful and he is, in my opinion, an employee that you should be honored to have”. It takes a lot of focus to pull this off. What a huge accomplishment and outstanding achievement.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
“Taking a little more time in your answer to ensure full quality service.”
I would like to nominate this representative for her improvement scores in 2013. She is a Small Business Email Consultant who was perplexed each time she received her survey results; claiming that she answered all queries, she was efficient in her work and for some reason she was not able to attain her SQM results/objectives. She took full ownership of these results in June of 2013 and set a goal to ensure as many, if not 100%, WCC. We reviewed her past surveys to assess where she was lagging; we noticed that while the customers’ queries are being answered, they were fairly vague. Here is an example: A client had written in asking why he had been charged for an activation fee. Her reply was polite as she apologized for the inconvenience and advised that we had applied the credit to the account. In reviewing what could have been done different and what she has been applying to her emails now is: remain convivial, polite and courteous; however, add: when the credit was applied, which invoice he/she will see the credit and the new balance on. This representative has also advised her teammates about how her scores have increased while taking a little more time in your answer to ensure full quality service (Quality over Quantity); she also assures us, that she is still efficient while getting the quality of her work in check. Her objective in 2014 is to be WCC certified and increasing her results by 20%; I have full faith that she will do it.
STRIVE TO IMPROVE
“I invested extra effort into trying to create a pleasant and productive experience for our clients.”
When I first learned what VoC was, and that we would be partaking in the program, I must admit I was a little bit intimidated and honestly less than thrilled by the idea. My initial thought of having no control over what a client says on a survey worried me. My early results were nothing to write home about; I struggled to consistently get World Class Calls. After the first few months, I had a discussion with my team leader to review my initial results. We then decided that we should make it a goal of mine to strive to improve in the year to come. He gave me a few tips and come the New Year, I invested extra effort into trying to create a pleasant and productive experience for our clients. I made a few small changes to the way I interacted with our clients and the way in which I handled their affairs. I basically just tried to be very polite, friendly and as helpful as possible whenever I addressed an issue for them. Whether it was a moment of small talk, a quick joke to make them laugh, or a real effort to go the extra mile to assist with a complicated case, I decided I would do what I could and just hope that I would reap some positive results from my efforts. Slowly but surely, I started to realize that I did in fact have lots of control over what the client might say during the survey. Somewhere along the way my World Class Calls improved substantially.
I can remember staying on a call to give a client step-by-step directions to one of our offices in a city which I had never even visited. I distinctly recollect upon a call that began with an irate client screaming at me about a payment he did not receive, that ended with the caller repeatedly thanking me, singing my praise and wishing me a Merry Christmas. Other times callers just remark upon how knowledgeable, friendly or helpful I am and how pleasant of an experience it has been. I can even remember calls where people have even gone as far as offering me jobs. The funny thing is, however, that though these interactions are as memorable as they are somewhat unique, I find that the most rewarding part of the Voice of the Customer program for me is reading the feedback from the calls that did not really stand out at the time. Reading the positive remarks and feedback from a client you dealt with, where you didn’t really notice or feel like you did anything that special. Even though it may have seemed like an average call to you, you somehow created a really positive standout experience for the client. You really get to see how a little extra effort to be friendly, polite and helpful can go a long way and mean a lot to the client and in time it all just seems natural to you. Looking back at everything, I really am glad that we adopted the VoC program in our call center. The feedback from the clients is always helpful. Sometimes it gives me new ideas on how I might be able to improve upon an aspect of my service. Other times reading the positive things the clients say gives me joy; the results motivate me and often give me a real sense of accomplishment. I consider it proof that my efforts to provide a pleasant experience are not going unnoticed and really are appreciated by our callers. It has helped me become a better customer service representative.
QUALITY MAKES A DIFFERENCE
“Her outstanding call flow performance is now being used in our training classes.”
I am honored to nominate this representative for the World Class Call Improvement Award. She maintains professionalism, while making our members feel comfortable with sharing their concerns. She improves the member’s experience during every call she handles, and has demonstrated the ability to lead and work effectively with her peers. Her call flow approach has been recognized throughout the call center, her phenomenal customer service has been noticed by the manager of Quality Assurance. Her outstanding call flow performance is now being used in our training classes providing examples to our future customer service representatives. She has mastered providing World Class service!
IT WASN’T ABOUT ME, IT WAS ABOUT THE CUSTOMER!
“Take ownership of that call and be the lasting memory for that customer.”
I began my career near the end of October 2011 and had my first taste of the VoC scoring near the end of December 2011. I have to say, for someone who has prided themselves on customer service jobs, I was in for a shock when my very first survey came in as a non-World Class call. I got the feedback comments and not one negative thing was said, or so I thought. The member responded “the representative was nice and easy to talk to, she listened to me but she could not find what I was looking for”. Okay, so I was nice, check, easy to talk to, check, and I listened check, but the information wasn’t available for me to provide, so why was it a non-World Class call? I never seemed to get it until more and more surveys came in with worse and worse results. The members always said I was great to deal with, so why was I suffering? This call spawned an epiphany in me; it wasn’t about me, it was about the customer! I prided myself on the soft skills needed for customer service, but what I had to learn was not to memorize the information, rather where to look for it so that I could provide the answers that these customers needed. After all, that is why they call.
VoC taught me to be upfront in my responses, and to take the time to convert the information I provide into the simplest of terms. I even got away with using my sense of humor to simplify information for members and from the surveys, I learned that not only did I provide the members with the information they required, the members will never forget me because of my analogies. Soon, VoC results would come in and Word Class calls were there. Comments like “I did not mind holding because she knew what she was talking about” and “she was hilarious, she figured out what I needed when even I didn’t know” were thrown in and it went uphill from there. Knowing that I am helping members and leaving them with a lasting memory is what makes the days go by.
I have now progressed from the Customer Care Representative role into the Resolution Case Manager role since summer of 2013. Now, I spread my words of wisdom to other CSRs. You can be the kindest person in the world and have a smile on your face all day, but if you cannot provide the information, you haven’t served your purpose as a CSR. I tell every CSR I talk to, to pretend like they are dealing with their best of friends, be truly genuine and know where to look. Take ownership of that call and be the lasting memory for that customer!
PROVIDING MEMORABLE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES
“I was focused on solving the inquiries and needs of the customers in a way that increased their satisfaction with our company.”
At the end of 2012, most of my teammates had received SQM certificates throughout the year, and were also awarded as World Class Representatives, recognized by their efforts to satisfy our customers. My overall results were not that bad, but I understood and knew that I could provide a memorable experience to our customers. It was in that moment that I made the choice of increasing my World Class Call results for the year to come. I set the goal that I wanted to be recognized, not only by the help that I provided to my co-workers, but also because I was focused on solving the inquiries and needs of the customers in a way that increased their satisfaction with our company. With this decision, the way I saw the results of the surveys changed. It stopped being just a way to evaluate my performance as a representative, and became about the way the clients felt about my efforts and how they describe their experience with me. This change was not only in the way I saw the surveys, but it also changed the way in which I spoke to customers, the attention I provided to their inquiries, and the way I saw their problems. Their problems became my problems, and what others saw as ‘going the extra mile’, to me was an essential part of my service. With this change, not only the quality of my service changed, but I also changed as a person, and my feelings as to how I feel about the client and their inquiries changed. Now every call is an opportunity to make them feel that they are important to me and our institution, and that their problems are my problems.
PASSION FOR HELPING PEOPLE
“She has passion and a gutsy attitude; she works on the issues tirelessly, and does everything in her power to resolve it.”
Passion for helping people – that is what you are born with. This rep is one of those few that can turn a raging customer into someone that appreciates her time, energy, and passion to work out a solution. It has not been all smooth sailing for her. Just recently, during her annual review I gave her some feedback for improvement regarding her written communication. In business, we need to be direct and empathic while respecting our customer’s time. Her challenge is working on her written communication. No one is perfect and I don’t expect her to be. But what I like about her service is that she doesn’t quit. She has passion and a gutsy attitude; she works on the issues tirelessly, and does everything in her power to resolve it.
“Seeing problems as challenges and being positive regardless of the situation.”
As the former manager of this representative, I am pleased to write her nomination for CSR World Class Improvement. She has reported directly to me for over 2 years and I can personally and honestly say a noticeable difference has been seen in regards to her customer focus and accountability with her clients. She has been receptive to coaching, positive, focused, motivated and dedicated to customer satisfaction and resolution, resulting in her receiving countless customer commendations from both her internal and external clients alike. In addition to having an extremely well balanced scorecard, her SQM results speak to her drive and dedication to her clients. This representative has always possessed a ‘can do’ attitude and always looked at the positive in every situation or challenge. This positive thinking definitely contributes to her successes and speaks to how she handles her clients on a day to day basis. Seeing problems as challenges and being positive regardless of the situation are some of the characteristics which set her apart from the rest. She ensures any and all customer issues (regardless of them being in her realm of control or job scope) are resolved and escalates through her manager to gain traction when required. Her attention to detail, tact and responsiveness is appreciated by her manager, but most importantly by her clients.
I am reminded of a time where she was off on vacation due to a family emergency and unfortunately not enough time was given to her clients to notify them of her departure. While she was gone, I received two emails from clients indicating how much they missed her and wanted to know when she would be back. She had a backfill at the time, however, from the client’s perspective, the level of service the rep provided did not measure up and the bar was set rather high. It was at this time that I noticed how valuable she was and what an asset she was to the team. She often worked late to ensure all customer issues were rectified and resolved and the additional effort showed in her results. 2013 was a challenging year for her personally and I am impressed at how she still managed to deliver stellar results and continues to grow professionally and personally. Due to her above average results, fantastic improvement and ability/skill level, I was working with her to further develop her from a career perspective. As a result of her hard work and drive, she was able to lock and solidify a Customer Service Manager role within the company and unfortunately she no longer reports to me. It was a huge loss to me and my team but a win for her and the clients she now supports and represents. In addition to her Account Consultant role, she took on several initiatives, prime ships and in-charges during the 2013 year. She took on these roles with ease, confidence and tact while still maintaining her results. Additionally, she was able to improve her SQM results compared to the year prior and it is for this reason that she is being nominated. I am pleased and privileged with playing a role in her development, however, this was a result of her own hard work; I merely supported her decisions and acted as an advocate of hers. I wish her continued success and all the best in her future endeavors.
OPEN AND RECEPTIVE TO CHANGE
“Looking back on how far I have come and how much I have improved only makes me want to continue.”
Being recognized as a representative who is most improved is quite an honor. I attribute my improvements to being open and receptive to change. Throughout 2013, several changes occurred, both personally at home as well as professionally in my career. These changes, combined with a strong leadership team behind me, helped me improve in my current role as a Customer Service Representative. On a personal note, 2013 saw the birth of my son, who is an amazing addition to my life. He continues to be a great lesson from which I learn on a daily basis. He brings out the best in me in every possible way; improving me personally as a father, but also as a person, with all my interactions with others. On the professional side, I went through several skill advancements with my position at work and further developed my expertise as a Customer Service Representative. I grew to be a multi-skilled representative, handling calls from all different policy types, including specific policies that require an advanced knowledge/skill for handling. By improving and evolving as a representative, I was also forced to change and adapt as quickly as possible, making me as efficient as possible. I have always been proud of my multi-tasking abilities (even if my significant other doesn’t always think so), but I am extremely proud of my further developments in this regard.
2013 was also the year in which the company extended their focus on the customer with an internal initiative. Working closely with my supervisor, I was able to improve even further by finding balance in terms of handling calls. Putting this balance into my role was another improvement that I am proud to say I accomplished quite well. Balancing call components – customer satisfaction through a quality interaction, accuracy of information provided and educating my customer while respecting my customers’ time – can be a difficult task. However, the key components of the initiative have helped me develop the necessary balance required in order to intensify my customer focus. As a result of paying attention to and applying our initiative’s core values and being respectful, responsive, making it easy to do business with and providing peace of mind, my SQM results and CCR / Call Centre satisfaction increased substantially. With 2013 now at a close, looking back on how far I have come and how much I have improved only makes me want to continue to do the same throughout 2014. I hope that I can continue to become a better customer care representative and service our members with the absolute best customer service experience possible; giving them 100% World Class service by doing so.
2012 Top Ten CSR for WCC Improvement Finalist Stories
MAKE EACH CUSTOMER FEEL IMPORTANT
“There is nothing worse than feeling like you are just another number, so I try to be as human and sincere as possible when people call in!”
I started in the Group benefits Contact Centre in May of 2010. As for my early Voice of the Customer (VOC) results, I was kind of scared of the program and didn’t want to check my results, but after a few months I started to really find it very helpful and started checking every morning. It is really nice to get feedback from the callers, and if they make a comment you can definitely take it as a constructive criticism. Even if you get a bad review, it motivates you to be more careful and try to get better results on every call. I can attribute my VOC improvement over the past year to a few things.
I have made a conscious effort to take the time to listen to callers to solve their problems to the best of my ability. I try to be as sincere as possible and make sure I can help them in one call, whether that call lasts 30 seconds or ten minutes. I know that when I call a call centre, I don’t want to speak to someone who acts like I am just another number or feel as though I am being rushed off the line and my call isn’t important. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are just another number, so I try to be as human and sincere as possible when people call in!
Another reason is the support I receive from my leaders. At first when I started working from home, I thought that I would not have the support I had when I was working in the office, but I was mistaken. It is so nice to be working and get a little instant message or phone call from my supervisor, even if it is just to say hello and ask how my day is going! That effort really makes a big difference when you’re working alone all day, and it is so nice to know that even though you’re not physically in an office working with others that there is someone there who is making sure everything is alright and going smoothly for you. Also, knowing that you can send a quick message and get support very quickly is reassuring. I really appreciate how supportive all of my leaders have been while I made this transition from working in the office to working from home.
When I made a mistake I would write it down and post a note on my computer so it was always in my sight and I would be sure not to make that mistake again. I also decided not to take every call so personally – when I started this job, if I got a bad call I would be very upset and it would bother me for the rest of the day and affect my other calls. Now I just try my best to be friendly and helpful, and I feel much more confident in my abilities after being here for a few years. Also, the feedback and coaching available to me is very helpful. It is so constructive to see when a mistake is made so it doesn’t happen again. It really is a confidence boost to check your chart in the morning and see only positive results.
FINDING AN ANSWER WITH THE PERSONAL CONNECTION
“The skill of active listening to fully understand what my customers needed also helped me improve my VoC results greatly this year.”
The 2012 SQM year is a source of great pride for me. In 2011, I struggled to make comfortable connections with my callers. My Voice of the Customer (VoC) results suffered and were well below expected levels. Fast forward only one year and my results are now among the very top of the entire Call Centre team. I see my results daily and I must say that my pride hasn’t worn off. Writing this story gave me the opportunity to do something I hadn’t done yet, which was to actually think about all the changes I made that allowed me to make such an amazing improvement.
It didn’t just happen. I am quite self-driven and I just wasn’t satisfied with my VoC performance. I had to really get honest with myself about what was holding me back and I had to make the decision to get down and dirty and make the changes I needed to make. I just wasn’t going to let myself or my team down. My supervisor worked with me to help me better understand my role; from not only a technical perspective, but from a soft skills, human perspective, as well. I learned that what I was delivering was only part of the picture. What the member would remember was how I delivered my message and the human connection I was able to make with them. This included such skills as positivity, compassion and empathy. I previously had been so zeroed in on finding an answer that I didn’t give much attention to the all-important human aspect.
I wouldn’t have been able to make these shifts without perseverance and patience. Patience not only in myself to realize that sometimes I would slip in my efforts, but also patience and understanding for my customers. I would often forget that my customer didn’t have the subject matter knowledge that I did. Now I was reminding myself that I was that information and support life-line for them. I understood my CCR purpose. Applying these new skills had me straying outside my comfort zone and it made me nervous to say the least. I didn’t give up. It actually did not take long for me to see that the more I stretched out of that zone, the easier the call became, in large part because of the rapport I was now able to create. I was changing my VoC history.
The skill of active listening to fully understand what my customers needed also helped me improve my VoC results greatly this year. Last year, I shied away from probing too much. I would rely on what my caller told me at the outset of the call in order to understand their question. I was for some reason nervous about asking probing questions and as a result, I often skimmed the surface in resolving their issue, or, I missed it altogether. Through coaching I learned that I can only truly help my customer if I really have a good understanding of the issue. Without that common ground, I wasn’t helping my customer and I wasn’t doing my job.
I encourage anyone who is struggling with VoC to not throw in the towel, but instead to take ownership for the quality of customer service you are providing. Your supervisors want to support you and see you succeed but ultimately you have to bring your own willingness and resolve to the table, every single day, to make the shifts you want to make.
A PROACTIVE ATTITUDE DISCOVERS NEW BEST PRACTICES
“She has shown a keen interest in listening to her own customer calls to identify opportunities for improvement.”
This nominee greatly improved her World Class calls from 2011 to 2012. This is an impressive accomplishment worthy of recognition. At the beginning of this past year her focus began somewhat distracted. She proactively identified this opportunity and has been openly seeking improvement. She is highly receptive to feedback and implements suggestions immediately. She has shown a keen interest in listening to her own customer calls to identify opportunities for improvement. From her discoveries, she has created best practices to help her professionally and efficiently navigate through calls. She has quickly positioned herself as a leader and is now recognized for her excellent customer service soft skills and product knowledge. She is extremely personable and approaches each customer with a positive demeanor and an upbeat attitude. She consistently keeps the customer’s experience at the top of her mind and articulates her willingness to help on each call. She has expressed that her goal is to treat each customer as she would like to be treated. She takes ownership and accountability for every interaction with each customer ending her calls on a positive note.
These attributes definitely contribute towards her success in providing our customers with world class service. I have witnessed her initiative and dedication to growth and development. She has taken on other roles within our center and as a result, has expanded her customer service knowledge. She shares this knowledge openly and is now also sought out by other leaders as a resource to help mentor our newly hired employees. As her supervisor I can attest to her continuous effort and dedication to delivering a positive experience to our customers. I believe it is behavior like this that influences others to create elevated customer service experiences.
FOCUS ON QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
“Takes her time during the call to ensure callers felt heard, cared for and helped.”
I would like to nominate CSR for recognition as a customer service representative with excellent world class improvement scores. During the previous measurement period (October 1, 2010-September 30, 2011) she had fallen into the fourth quartile for her world class percentage. In early 2012, she and her team lead had noticed a slow steady drop in her SQM scores. There was no immediate concern as scores can fluctuate month to month and she maintains excellent internally measured quality. Over a few months period of time she became more concerned as her SQM scores were not improving and once again expressed her concerns regarding the scores to myself and her team lead. As a team, we met to discuss her performance, brainstorm ideas of why there was a slow but steady decline and try to come up with an action plan. This CSR approached the situation with a strong desire to improve her performance, increase her SQM scores and member satisfaction. She was open to feedback and was willing to work closely with myself and her team lead to identify the heart of the issue and make the necessary adjustments to her workflow.
I asked that she and her team lead begin to meet on a weekly basis to evaluate what was happening with her scores, to identify areas of possible improvement, find where immediate changes could be made and build a long-term plan. During their weekly meetings, she and her team lead listened to her previous calls to identify areas of improvement. They focused on quality over quantity, taking a member centered approach by having the CSR own each issue a member presented and strive to resolve that issue in one interaction. She was asked to control her call flow and take her time during the call to ensure callers felt heard, cared for and helped. In addition to her overall call flow and member centered approach, they were also able to identify an area of improvement with her vocal tone during her calls. Using more inflection to her voice and adding a smile to her tone made a world of difference. she also worked with her team lead on adding the appropriate amount of business and human interaction during her call flow which has built excellent rapport with her callers.
This was a team effort with a strong desire on the nominee’s part to want success and to service her customers to the highest level. There was a conscious effort on her part and a strong desire to improve her performance. She was open to feedback and was not afraid to reflect on herself and accept the areas that she needed to change. As a team, we were able to work together to identify the areas of possible improvement and implement the steps needed to support her during this process. All of her hard work and self-reflection paid off. She is now in the first quartile for world class and is a Certified World Class Representative based on SQM’s criteria.
A SHIFT IN FOCUS BRINGS RESULTS
“I stopped thinking ahead and instead focused on handling one call at a time.”
Last year, I was very disappointed that I did not achieve world class certification. In 2012, I desperately wanted to improve not only for myself but for my team. It took a lot of hard work, trial and error, one on one mentoring and learning how to ask clarifying questions. For 2012, my primary focus was resolving my member’s needs. I stopped thinking ahead and instead focused on handling one call at a time. I have always been empathetic and heartfelt; yet my challenge was learning to listen effectively and ask pertinent clarifying questions, which showed I understood the caller’s needs.
Proactively, I took action and sought ways to resolve my stumbling blocks. To start, I requested training to improve my critical thinking and listening skills. Through this process, I learned how to better represent my member’s voice and resolve their calls. I wanted the member to hear the smile in my voice, and absorb my positive ‘can do’ attitude. I tried different techniques and confirmed what worked best for me. The most helpful, was treating each caller as I desire to be treated. My goals became reality through the constant support and encouragement from my team leads and supervisors. I fine-tuned the knowledge my team provided and found ways to apply it with an open and receptive attitude. By trying to improve, I had built the member’s confidence in my response; and built confidence in myself. By putting the member first, I learned to proactively resolve my member’s needs. In the end, they appreciated that I took the time to walk a mile in their shoes, and took the time to personalize each call.
POSITIVELY TRANSFORMING THE CUSTOMERS PERCEPTION!
“The customer’s perception of Scotiabank’s service was completely transformed following her interaction with the nominee.”
This nominee was initially hired as a contract staff in February 2010 to provide support to Scotiabank’s retail and small business customers. She quickly demonstrated her commitment to delivering exceptional customer service and was subsequently made permanent in May of the same year. She is a dedicated, results oriented employee who is always seeking the best solution to satisfy her customer needs.
This year she was committed to improving her World Class certification by focussing on improving her customer engagement. Consequently, several customer commendations were received from customers for the service she provided throughout the year. One customer in particular called into the centre quite irate and disappointed with the service received from the Bank. The customer attempted to process a payment to a competitor credit card using a Scotiabank cheque. She received a call from the competitor bank advising her that her account would incur late fees and additional interest charges as the payment she claims to have sent for processing was never received by the competitor bank. When the nominee received the customer’s call, she successfully resolved the issue within the same day by following up with the relevant mid office personnel at Scotiabank. The customer’s perception of Scotiabank’s service was completely transformed following her interaction with the nominee. The customer commented on the nominee’s outstanding service and her ability to efficiently resolve the issue which exceeded all the customer’s expectations. The nominee, no doubt, created a memorable customer experience as the customer called just to ensure the nominee’s supervisor was aware of the interaction and was duly recognized for same. This nominee was promoted in May 2012 following her consistent demonstration of outstanding customer service and her dedication to fostering the same behavior by her colleagues through continuous peer coaching.
REVELATION THROUGH CRITICAL THINKING
“As she examined the purpose of the survey program, her perspective changed.”
It started with one call, a very unhappy customer and some rather unflattering customer feedback. At first, this nominee rejected the SQM survey comments. With 12 years of call center experience, a division mentor role and a career filled with accolades and achievement, she felt that this could just be one of those members. But then she listened to the call recording, “I listened and I didn’t like what I heard. That’s not me. That’s not the customer service I expect from myself.” That one call gnawed at her. She started looking at her performance a little more critically. Time passed and she began to see the issue. She found herself looking at the service she received from others and that is when everything changed. As she examined the purpose of the survey program, her perspective changed:
I used to see the survey as a way to evaluate me – not the customer’s experience. I was defensive. After some extremely poor experiences of my own, however, I began to see the audits as the only true opportunity a customer has to rate a company’s performance. The customer isn’t concerned with why a claim is denied or why she has to wait on hold. She just expects their issue to be resolved – that’s it. No excuses. I realized that it’s not about me. It’s about them. And that’s when it clicked.
This revelation changed her approach and her member feedback improved immediately. A customer raved:
I am very satisfied because she was very knowledgeable. The things she did not know right off the top of her head she asked me to hold for a very short period of time and went and checked on to make sure she had all the correct information. She was very personable and did a really good job. I would highly love to get this person back every time I call.
Since February 2012, this nominee has been World Class Certified each month and concluded the certification period with a very high average. She credits her success to her focus on listening and understanding the customer’s need, rather than trying to resolve the issue the caller presents and moving on to the next: “I listen so much more intently now than ever before.”
Life was good, and then opportunity knocked again. Midway into 2012, she was selected to participate in a skill development opportunity as a CSR Liaison for the Customer Service SQM Review Committee. While on the team that relatively few CSRs know exist, she came to understand VSP’s commitment to world-class customer service:
I had no idea how much time, energy and effort went into the program. What I once believed was just an evaluation tool, I now see as the backbone of what VSP stands for. The commitment we show to our customers became tangible and real. This is serious business. It really makes me feel so proud of the company I represent.
Because of her experience with customer service and her work with the committee, she had the opportunity to visit each of the Customer Service team meetings in September and relay the role of SQM and its importance to VSP:
CSRs had so many questions and I don’t think they truly understood just how committed our company is to ensuring each customer receives the best possible service on every call. After making these presentations, I feel like the CSRs have a much better understanding of VSP’s expectations of them and how dedicated VSP is to both our members and our employees.
I wish I could quantify the transformation that took place with this CSR. She provides incredible customer service for each of her callers. She constantly researches and works with business partners throughout the organization to ensure that she resolves her customers’ needs. She is a leader within her team who continually forwards tips and information to her colleagues. Her service is truly world class.
UNDERSTANDING CALLER’S NEEDS HELPS IMPROVE FCR
“She decided her most important objective was to work on her relationships with her callers.”
This CSR had a challenging year in 2011 both professionally and personally. At the beginning of the year, she and I met and jointly created her development plan for the year. She is our most improved CSR in the call center! This nominee has been a CSR with us for 13 years. She aspires to become a CSR that handles both phone calls and claims processing; these positions are highly sought after.
First, she needed to improve her performance to be successful in her current role and competitive to reach her goal. She said she didn’t want to leave her CSR position because she loved working with her callers. So, together, we looked at her SQM scores and her other performance goals. She decided her most important objective was to work on her relationships with her callers. She focused all her efforts into making sure she was giving the best service she could while showing her callers she cared. She worked on understanding her caller’s needs and resolving their issue on the first phone call. If she told someone she would call them back later that afternoon, she kept her word. She was diligent about remaining current on call center changes to policies and procedures to assure she gave correct information on every call. She not only improved her relationships with her callers, she also improved her overall performance. She is on her way to becoming a hybrid CSR and she knows that by improving her caller’s experience she will be a more competitive candidate. I am very proud of the hard work and determination she has demonstrated to become a better CSR for herself and VSP.
NOT WHAT YOU SAY, BUT HOW YOU SAY IT
“I started thinking about how I would like a call to go if I was the one calling in for assistance.”
I began my career at Sun Life Financial in the Call Centre almost 2 years ago. Going into this job I had 4 years of previous call centre experience but never had I dealt with retirement products, not even in my own life experiences. There was so much to learn and I was extremely nervous to start taking calls after training. Each day did become easier but there was still a lot to learn and skills to develop. My first year, I was lucky enough to just make the cut to be a World Class Certified Representative. It came down to my very last survey! Had it not been rated World Class I would not have been certified. Imagine that! This frightened me as customer service has always been so important to me. Not being a World Class Certified Representative was not an option for me! I remember coming into work and my supervisor was smiling ear to ear with the news that my last survey came in and I did it, I was officially World Class Certified! All my hard work in that first year paid off. I was very proud of my accomplishment! Being World Class Certified was the boost of confidence that I really needed to get to steer me in the right direction.
This year just making that cut, for me, would not be option. It was my goal to be consistently over the target. I wanted to ensure that I wasn’t going to be in the same position as the prior year stressing over whether or not I was going to be certified. As I said, in my mind, not being certified is not an option for me! I started thinking about how I was handling my calls. Was I really listening to my customer? Was I demonstrating empathy where necessary? Was I expressing how I was going to help them resolve their call? Was I being as polite as I could be? Although I could comfortably answer yes to those questions I knew that deep down I could be doing better.
I started thinking about how I would like a call to go if I was the one calling in for assistance. I would want the person on the other end to express that they understood my issue and that they were there to help. After thinking this through and applying my newfound insight, I started noticing a huge difference on how I was speaking to our customers. I began answering the phone with a bubbly tone of voice and a smile on my face. I ensured that I was being polite and using my manners, saying please and thank you when appropriate. As soon as the member would express the reason for their call I would paraphrase it back to them to acknowledge that I heard what they needed and that I also understood. Then I would state my willingness to assist by saying things like “I can most definitely assist you with that today”, and, ”Absolutely, I will take care of doing that for you”. I started realizing that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it! Positive words are the key.
Sometimes I have to deliver ‘bad’ news’ (it’s inevitable), but I found in using positive wording, empathetic tones and stating what I can do, I was able to turn these calls into great member experiences. The World Class calls started coming in month after month. I was feeling great and there was no way I was going to stop what I was doing, it was working! My Supervisor also provided me with the opportunity to mentor new hires. This was a turning point in lifting my confidence. I also had the opportunity to listen to calls and do some coaching with my peers. This was an amazing way to really live and breathe extraordinary Customer Service!
Along with changes to the way I was handling my calls my supervisor was also doing a great job supporting me along the way. She noticed the change in my calls and would frequently compliment me on how polite I was on the phone. She knew I was passionate about my job and passionate about creating a pleasant member experience on each and every call, and my SQM results were proving it. My colleagues were noticing too and commenting on my politeness and how nice I was on the phones. It was great to get this feedback from co-workers.
My supervisor had a senior representative sit with me to listen to my calls as my call length appeared to be high. I was still struggling with confidence in the knowledge category because I was so afraid I would give the wrong information and impact a member’s experience negatively. The representative that sat with me identified that I was handling my calls perfectly! He encouraged me by observing that I know what I am doing and to stop second guessing myself. This was the major boost in self-esteem that really helped me to know that I am doing a good job. I began second guessing myself less and less and sure enough my call time improved.
I can confidently say that confidence is no longer an issue for me! I am proud to be working in an environment where I can be part of resolving customers’ concerns and help them to achieve peace of mind. It is very rewarding to see a survey come in with a comment like, “She was very informative, very helpful. She was very polite, helpful and just answered all my questions and put my mind at rest”. Those comments continue to be another huge part of the motivation that keeps me focused on providing the best service I possibly can. I am proud to say that this year it did not come down to my last survey. I worked hard to reach my goals to ensure this would not be a concern. My hard work and dedication has increased my World Class rating and I can proudly say that I am a World Class Certified Representative for 2012!
HUMILITY DOES NOT GO UNNOTICED BY THE TEAM
“Though she was very humbled by this accomplishment and kept it quiet, her team wouldn’t let it go unnoticed.”
It is with great pleasure that I nominate this CSR for the World Class Call Improvement Award. Wow! What accomplishments she achieved this last year. Each caller was ‘very satisfied’ with her; each person said she resolved the reason for their call and each caller said they definitely would probably continue to use our company’s products and services. At the beginning of this certification period, she declared her goal to achieve 100% on all her surveys. She has a strong desire to provide World Class Customer Service, as well as, achieve first call resolution and caller satisfaction on each call. How did she accomplish this? She incorporated the following elements into her call handling:
- Extends herself to our Providers or Clients and, when necessary, research inquires to ensure she resolves the call. Her focus is not to have the caller walk away with an action item.
- Anticipates questions the caller may have to ensure she addresses all questions.
- Keeps a smile on her face during each call.
- Identifies with her callers – even making them laugh when appropriate.
- Makes suggestions to the caller on how to best utilize their benefits to meet their needs.
In the comment section on her SQM Report Card, common themes used by her callers to describe their experience with her include: knowledgeable, efficient, friendly and helpful. She takes great pride when she reads the comments on her surveys. Examples include:
She was very helpful and went above and beyond what I was calling about. She helped me review some benefits as well as locate a doctor and re-set my password for VSP online service. She was very helpful. I was impressed. Some of the best customer service I’ve had lately. She was extremely courteous, knowledgeable and patient. I didn’t get the feeling she was trying to rush me off the line. She was everything you would want. She was extremely courteous, very knowledgeable and patient. You should give some consideration to increasing that young lady’s salary because she is a credit to your organization. She stuck with me the whole time, very easy to work with, very friendly. She took care of me and solved my problems. I didn’t have to do it myself. She was very helpful and pleasant to work with. Thank you very much.
Though she was very humbled by this accomplishment and kept it quiet, her team wouldn’t let it go unnoticed. To celebrate, her team decorated her desk; each wrote her a note and gave her a big congratulations balloon and flowers.
2011 Top Ten CSR for WCC Improvement Finalist Stories
HANDS-ON ROLE PRESENTS A DIFFERENT APPROACH
“The positive atmosphere is extremely beneficial.”
I began working at the 407 ETR as a temporary employee in the spring of 2004. For 6 years, I was a VEP Operator. When I found out that my department would be crossed-trained in Customer Service, I was very eager to broaden my skill set and improve my position in the company. I was trained for Customer Service in early 2010. My first year in the call centre was like anyone else’s – a work in progress. It is the type of job where you constantly need to be learning and educating yourself. This not only benefits yourself but improves the service you provide to customers.
I believe the biggest reason why I improved my World Class Calls is because of the Customer Service Centre. I began working there in September 2010. It has been the best experience of my working career. Being on the front lines and having a much more hands-on role assisting customers face-to-face, is the reason I have improved. Having great teammates and great leadership is also a contributing factor. We work together as a team and are always encouraging each other to do better. The positive atmosphere is extremely beneficial and I credit this, as well, for my improvement.
The hands-on role gives a CSR a different approach when it comes to customer service. We not only answer questions for customers, but we deal with several different areas that differ from CSRs in the call centre. Being exposed to these different areas has allowed me to improve as a Customer Service Representative which has also benefited our customers.
PUTTING A SMILE IN HER VOICE
“She is no longer just processing a transaction.”
This nominee greatly improved her World Class calls this year over 2010. This is an impressive accomplishment worthy of recognition. She is a personable adjuster who processes her calls with professionalism and efficiency. In the past, she was process driven, more focused on taking the information and processing the claim than on how the customer felt or that the customer had what they needed. Technically she was strong, but customers did not always feel that personal connection we strive for.
Over the past year, she has made it a priority for the customer to have a positive experience with ICBC. She has a natural tendency to speak very quickly; she has slowed down and tries to connect with the customer on a personal level. When speaking with the customers, she talks to them as she would a friend; has real conversations with them, uses their name throughout the call, and although the customer is not usually calling under happy circumstances, you can often hear her laughing with them putting them at ease.
At the beginning of each call, she tells the customer what she is going to do so that the customer knows what to expect. She expresses empathy for their situation and treats everyone with respect. She is no longer just processing a transaction. At the end of each call, she ensures that the customer has the answers to all their questions, knows what the next steps are and ensures that there is nothing that she has not addressed for them.
She is an ambassador for ICBC, someone who you would want your friends and family to have on the other end of the phone if they needed to report a claim. She always has a smile in her voice and her customers can’t help but feel her smile and know that everything is going to be okay. This nominee should be recognized for this amazing accomplishment because she is living our vision for success every time she speaks with a customer by understanding them and exceeding their expectations.
MAKING EVERY INTERACTION A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE
“She wanted to demonstrate a better attitude towards the customer.”
This individual had improved a lot from 2010 to 2011. Her results were improved by her dedication and self-motivation of doing her best. I still remember her coaching sessions during which she would often ask herself why the customer did not value her effort and were not 100% satisfied in her calls when she thought that she was resolving their concerns and helping them with their requirements. Then she started thinking: if she were the customer, what things would she like to hear or perceive? Then think about the service offered. She started a self-awareness of being better in every call. She wanted to demonstrate a better attitude towards the customer and show more empathy. She is always following the bank’s service procedures, making a difference among her peers, being open-minded and receptive to her supervisor’s feedback and quality assurance recommendations. She had a genuine concern for listening and understanding our customers’ problems and took the decision to make every interaction a memorable experience. Using kindness, respect and empathy, taking responsibility and follow up all her cases. In conclusion, as her supervisor I can say, in every call she demonstrated her willingness to offer world class service and first call resolution commitment.
TAKING TIME TO LISTEN AND EXPLAIN THE DETAILS
“No one has ever explained my plan to me like this before.”
In 2010 I was not World Class Certified. This year, I made a commitment to improving my call resolution and CCR satisfaction results and to do this, I had to make some changes. The main thing I worked on was my attitude. With each call, I put myself in my customer’s shoes. I actively listened to the callers’ needs and I explained information in a way that they understand. I reminded myself that if there is an opportunity to resolve an issue and satisfy the caller, not only is it better for Sun Life, it is also better for me. I tried to ensure that my callers’ concerns were resolved and provided additional information if it helped them.
My Team Leader really helped motivate me to make this change. She brought to my attention calls that were not World Class as coaching opportunities. We listened to the calls together, and although I was resistant to the feedback at first, I prided myself on seeing situations from the other person’s perspective. This helped me to see where I could find improvement in my calls. Since this time there have been more calls than I can count where the caller would not have been satisfied had I not applied my newly improved skills. I believe I am resolving more issues on the initial call. The following story demonstrates my improved commitment to customer satisfaction and resolution.
A gentleman phoned frustrated because he had been submitting claims for both his wife and himself that were getting declined and he did not understand why. He was extremely irritated with how difficult it was to get the claims processed and explained that he had called before for a similar issue. I reassured the member that I would resolve his questions and started looking into his claims. He was newly retired and his retiree plan had some clauses that could be confusing. I explained why his claims were declined and took the additional step of asking the member if I could take a moment to review his plan with him. As we went through his plan details, I saw that he had a health spending account that he was not utilizing and that he had coverage under his wife’s plan as well. I took the time to explain how his entire plan worked and also how to co-ordinate expenses to take advantage of all the coverage available to him. It took a bit more time than just answering his initial question. However, at the end of the call the member understood how to maximize the options under both plans.
I have dealt with calls such as this before. What made this call special to me was that at the end of the call the member said, “No one has ever explained my plan to me like this before.” That comment made me feel a sense of fulfilment. I could see that I not only helped resolve his questions for that day, but that my efforts were appreciated and would make his plans with Sun Life easier to manage. We only have a short time on most of our calls and it feels great when I know I have made a difference.
A LITTLE SELF REFLECTION LEADS TO BIG SUCCESSES
“I realized I listen more effectively when I was not talking.”
In 2010, I was not a World Class Certified Representative. Although disappointed, I accepted it and made a promise to myself that the following year I would be certified. To accomplish this, there would be changes that I would need to make. I began by listening to some of the calls I had taken, both world class and non-world class, and then made a list of my call flow and identified what had worked and what had not. This allowed me to come to several conclusions.
The first and most important was to open the call with a smile and keep smiling during the call. I did not believe it myself until I listened to my calls, but a smile truly can be heard and a ‘smiling voice’ is more welcoming and relaxing. This will make the caller more relaxed and assists in building more trust.
I realized that I listen more effectively when I was not talking and therefore I made it a point to refrain from interrupting my caller. I would let the caller finish what they were saying to not break their train of thought. To help me, I always have a pen and paper in hand. I got into the habit of taking short notes of what the caller was asking, any probing questions I would have or the points I would need to comment on. I would not be thinking of the answers to the member’s questions, but instead take in what they had to say. When I was searching for an answer, I was not actively listening. When my caller had finished speaking, I would refer back to my notes and take action. I would summarize the key facts I had jotted down to ensure I understood correctly, at the same time letting the caller know that I had understood them and their needs. In cases where I needed clarification, I would ask questions and never assume.
When speaking with the member, I made a conscious effort to speak slowly as I tend to speak fast. This allowed the caller time to absorb what I was saying. I spoke even slower when I was saying numbers, or anything the caller might need to write down. I used words that the caller used when they spoke to me – in effect – mirroring them. As long as the jargon they were using was accurate I would use it as well, as it is obvious they were using terms they were comfortable with.
I started showing empathy with my callers by using key phrases such as “I understand what you mean.” I found this to be a great way to build rapport with the caller and we all know that this is an integral part of the communication process. Lack of or absence of rapport can fundamentally affect the outcome of any conversation.
Lastly, I went the extra mile by giving added value to my calls by educating the caller about their plan and what it had to offer. I tried to implement first call resolution on every call, and if I could not, I promised the caller a time frame for my call back. Furthermore, when I did get the odd call where the caller had been bounced around, I would take ownership of the call showing empathy with the caller’s situation and assuring them that their issue is being looked after.
By applying these changes to my call flow I noticed an improvement in the quality of my calls. With that came the increased results of my World Class Calls allowing me to achieve my goal and become a World Class Certified CSR. A little self-reflection is all it took to make this happen and to allow me to solidify the relationships I have with the customers I speak with.
INSERTING POSITIVE WORDS INTO THE CONVERSATION
“My customers seemed happier and, in turn, so did I.”
Unfortunately, in 2010, I was not a World Class certified representative. This was not something I was very proud of. I was dealing with struggles in my personal life and not performing to my full potential. I thought I was separating my personal life from my work life however, came to realize that it was not the case. It was getting more difficult each day to come in with a smile. It was like a circle; as things became difficult outside of work, things would get worse at work and vice versa. Something needed to happen to break this cycle.
I talked with my supervisor and she made some suggestions. She indicated the importance of trying to put personal issues on the back burner when at work, and put work stresses there, when at home. This made sense; sitting at my desk and worrying would not help my personal life and certainly not improve my work life. She also suggested that we listen to some of my calls taken and make some notes as to how I could improve. After listening to a few calls we realized that I was not as friendly as I thought I was being. I also noticed that it was obvious I was not giving my full attention to what the customer was asking for. I was doing the bare minimum and my customers could tell. I was not using a lot of strong words such as I will, I can or certainly, to make them feel confident in my abilities. This was quite an eye opener and I was happy to have something to work on.
The first thing I did was incorporate some strong positive words into my conversations. I wanted my customers to feel comfortable knowing I would take care of their issue and confident I knew how to. I also started to pay more attention to all the reasons for their call. After a few weeks I noticed that this was indeed making a difference. My customers seemed happier and, in turn, so did I. I also noticed that when a customer was upset, by listening to all their concerns and not taking it personally, they became calm and no longer angry. I was learning to keep the personal feelings out of my calls and remain professional.
I spoke to my peers to see if I could learn from them. One of my colleagues suggested I use my mirror while speaking with our customers to ensure there was a smile on my face which would come out in the tone of my voice. This is an old trick but one that I had forgotten. By using the mirror during a call I could visually see when my smile disappeared and therefore my focus. Immediately I would turn that smile back on and start focusing again.
I began to notice, that as I renewed my old habits, my confidence returned and my struggles became a thing of the past. As the year progressed I was excited to hear all the positive feedback our customers had to give. The feedback was not just from customers but from my supervisor as well. My colleagues commented on a noted difference in my demeanor. Work was once again a good place to be, and as my SQM World Class Call rating improved, I saw a domino effect into my other metrics. My call resolution and other metrics such as AHT steadily improved month over month.
I am now involved in pilot groups and am there to help the team out whenever possible. Soon this feeling of achievement and success started to trickle into my personal life. The circle continued as I was feeling better at work, I was feeling better at home and stress levels started to lower. Through supervisor coaching, peer support and the realization that I needed to buckle down, I was able to change my tone of voice, improve my listening skills and my overall outlook. By increasing my world class calls, my attitude has been more positive and I once again look forward to coming into the office. This year I am very proud to share that I am a World Class Certified call centre representative. The SQM Smile is once again on my face and in my voice.
SELF-AWARENESS, CARING IMPACT MEMBERS’ SATISFACTION
“I needed to find what was missing within me.”
I was proud of my World Class Call result last year, but I knew I had it in me to achieve a greater personal goal of 100% – for the customers I serve and me. I am now certified for my third consecutive year. In my first 2 years of certification, when I had a survey that was not World Class, I blamed the member and not take into account the key part that I played in impacting the members’ satisfaction. I felt that since my past certifications demonstrated that members liked me, than it must have been an error with the system. My lack of understanding of the members’ true needs did not help me meet their total satisfaction. I’m always looking for ways to improve and better myself on a personal level and decided to set a goal for my SQM surveys to see how high I could go. I would achieve this by treating each member like family and ensuring that they could feel that.
I had many discussions with my supervisor about why the calls did not go the way I thought they did, took all the feedback, and formulated a plan for the year to come. I pride myself on taking ownership of any given situation, but felt there was still something missing that was not letting me connect with every member. I decided to listen to the first month of calls, which were all World Class, to find the key ingredient that I needed to focus on in order to achieve the high goal I set for myself. After listening to my calls, I found what I was missing. I discovered what the members were looking for and what I was already providing, but not on a consistent basis. That one thing was ‘Caring’; caring for the member as if he or she was part of the family to reassure them that I will take care of all their needs.
Although I did not achieve 100% World Class this year, I am very satisfied with my increased result. I used all the resources at my disposal to ensure that the members’ needs were resolved. By getting rid of the attitude of ‘it’s everyone else’s fault but my own’, I was able to key into the members’ satisfaction.
It seems so simple, but putting yourself in the members’ shoes and thinking that they are the only call you’ll have that day frees you from any stress and gives you wings to bring their resolution to new heights. I needed to find what was missing within me – the caring aspect of the call – and then focus on ensuring that was conveyed to the members in order to build a strong relationship and gain their trust. This new approach and self-awareness helped me improve my results, but more importantly let me provide excellent customer service to our customers by going above and beyond and solidifying their relationship with Sun Life.
EMBRACING SELF CHANGE BRINGS ACCOMPLISHMENTS
“I changed my mind set, my attitude, the tone of my voice and my approach.”
Every business needs it, we all personally need it – change. It happens whether we want it to or not, and we all must incorporate it if we want to go further. I now have a new appreciation for change and the power we have to do so.
Unfortunately, last year I was not a World Class Certified representative. This for me was not personally acceptable. As I reflected on my 2010 World Class rating, I knew that 2011 had to be different – it was to be the year of change. Most importantly, it would need to be the year of self-change if I was to become SQM certified! The desire to change must come from within and now I was ready. As the new SQM year started, my goal was to be World Class Certified and I would not settle for less.
I created my personal goals and wrote them down. Every day I would look at my goals as a reminder to inspire me. You will find on my desk to this very day the following note – Great Aspirations Leaves Award – my goals and aspirations were set. My supervisor said she would do anything necessary to help me achieve them. I was now on my way to become the ‘one’ to provide the best customer service! Change was happening!
Through one-on-one coaching sessions, my supervisor and I identified areas I could work on and developed plans. I was determined to achieve these goals and soaked in as much feedback and information I could get my hands on. We noticed trends in my tone of voice, habits and mannerisms. We began to identify areas where improvement was needed; things that would impact and change a customer’s response from somewhat satisfied to very satisfied. What I thought as helping was sometimes not helpful at all because it seemed like I was rushing to beat the clock instead of providing quality service. I persevered and knew that all I had to do was ask, if I needed to know more or needed more support. I found myself liking the feeling that I was not abandoned but actually guided, as promised. When I had that feeling, everything fell together.
The tone of my voice is now softer so that the customer can hear that I care, that I understand, and am sincere in what I say. I can now recognize during a call when a customer’s frustration may actually be causing me frustration. With that recognition I am able to remain calm and patient in order to stay focused and ensure first call resolution. With the mind set of ‘one call at a time’, the rushing stopped, my customers are very satisfied and at the same time I have seen a significant reduction in my average handle time (AHT)!!! What an eye opener that the two fall together. I now believe that quality customer service can happen while ensuring AHT targets were met. I changed my mind set, my attitude, the tone of my voice and my approach.
These changes have affected me in so many ways (in achieving my one goal, I am able to achieve many). I know I am providing excellent help to my customers while, at the same time, being a strong contributor to my team. My SQM World Class Rating improved by 10%! My decision to change was what I needed to start my improvement. My AHT has also reduced. My Internal Quality rating went from a “meets most” to an “exceeds”. There are so many benefits that I have and will continue to experience due to this decision. Although I am proud of all my achievements I am most ecstatic that this year, my year of change I am a World Class Certified CCR.
SETTING REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS RAISES CUSTOMER CONFIDENCE
“She decided to really focus on the voice of the customer.”
This nominee increased her percentage of world class calls by 13%. She has a strong desire to deliver a world class experience on each and every call. She feels that as a tenured CSR who has been world class certified for the previous four years, her results, as good as they were, should be even better. She decided to really focus on the voice of the customer.
By partnering with her supervisor and listening to calls, she realized that she was inadvertently setting up false expectation for her callers in how quickly they could expect to receive faxed information from her. Once an outbound fax is submitted, it goes to a queue and can take up to 20 minutes to be sent, or even longer if the receiving number is busy and the outbound fax has to line up in the queue again. She realized that something as simple as changing her phrasing from ‘it’s on its way’ to ‘you can expect to receive the information within 24 hours’ would set a realistic and accurate expectation for her callers, thereby increasing their level of satisfaction and confidence the call was resolved.
She realized that the more comfortable and confident she was with the information she was sharing with her callers, the better her voice of the customer results. She made a conscious effort to stay abreast of new and changing procedures in the call center by proactively reading her online resources. She also appreciates and supports the way her team shares tips and advice with one another. She has been very motivated by the positive feedback she saw as a result of her efforts to be more confident in herself and the changes she made to her call handling. Additionally, she attributes the monthly feedback sessions with her supervisor and the supportive and open team environment as factors in her success. She and her peers enjoy recognizing and celebrating each other’s successes in team meetings and she strongly believes that partnership and give-and-take of information on the team enhances her ability to provide outstanding service to her callers.
As her supervisor, it’s my opinion that this individual’s focus paid off to the benefit of both her improvement and VSP’s gain.
GOING THE EXTRA MILE MAKES A DIFFERENCE
“They are calling for help.”
I am proud to nominate this individual for the World Class Call Improvement Award. She achieved a 17% increase from her last certification period. Her focus this year was on improving her overall scores.
She takes ownership and accountability for every interaction with each call. She does not judge or assume why the caller is calling. Instead she begins every interaction knowing that, ‘they are calling you for help’.
This is what she said when asked what keeps her engaged and successful:
They are calling for help. I am here to help them and give them what they need. I make notes of what the customer is asking. Regardless of how the call flows, by writing what the customer is asking for ensures that I meet their needs and First Call Resolution. I take ownership of each call, whether that is reviewing benefits with members or assisting doctors with finding guidelines in their manual. I take pride in my job. I feel good at the end of the day knowing that I did a good job. Helping people and the company is important to me.
In the comment section on her SQM Report Card, common themes used by her callers to describe their experience with this individual include: knowledgeable, informative, answered all my questions, efficient, professional, communicates well, listens, very helpful and nice. Our callers recognize the customer service she provides almost always exceeds their expectations. This is evident by the calls transferred to a supervisor complimenting this individual on her outstanding customer service.
Direct feedback from our callers includes:
She was wonderful! She was very helpful, pleasant, calming and her listening skills are outstanding. I am very happy with the level of service she provided and wish everyone was that helpful. She was focused and resolved all my issues. She was exceptional!
My whole family has been in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices. In my entire existence dealing with insurances, I have never had a representative call a doctor’s office on my behalf and personally fix a problem I was having. Just the act of caring enough to go the extra mile made a big difference. She did something for me that I will never forget for as long as I live.
2010 Top Ten CSR for WCC Improvement Finalist Stories
DISCARDING A DEFENSIVE ATTITUDE
“I stopped the excuses and improved one day at a time.”
How was I able to improve my World Class Call results over the last 12 months? The answer is pretty easy actually. Prior to last year, I was not receptive to feedback. When my supervisor would meet with me and provide me with feedback and constructive criticism, I would get very defensive. I believed that I didn’t need another person’s advice to get better. I was answering the customer’s questions and that’s it, my calls were not personal.
This attitude got me nowhere. I was not meeting my objectives and was disappointed with my results. This year I decided to do better, to be better. My supervisor and I had discussions about my goals and what I wanted to achieve and I knew that I had to work harder to get there. We listened to some of my calls together and I was open to her feedback. I did not always agree, but I understood what she was saying and took all of her feedback in a constructive manner. All of the advice that has been given since then has been put to good use. One of the main tools I have focused on using is positive positioning and I have been incorporating it in all of my calls. I take the time to tell the customers all of the options which are available to them and sometimes it’s as easy as simplifying the answer to their question. I listen to them and I always try to bring positive points out of negative situations. Sometimes, when it can change the issue around, I will find a way to help them by going totally ‘outside the box’ with the solution. It might take some more time on the call, but the end result is worth it as the member is satisfied with my service and this is a direct reflection on the company. I have also worked hard at personalizing my calls. Sometimes, simple acknowledgements such as: thank you, have a good trip or even, happy birthday, can make all the difference between a somewhat satisfied customer and a very satisfied one. I really try to understand the customer’s perception and do what I can to ensure that it is a good one.
Bottom line is, in order to improve my customer satisfaction results and get more World Class calls, I worked on myself. I stopped with the excuses and improved one day at a time. I have never been asked to be the best, but simply to do my best. Now I can easily say that every day I give my best and provide excellent customer service to our members. This has directly reflected in my results by improving my World Class Call results compared to last year. You don’t have to be perfect to succeed, but there are always areas for improvement. I learned that the hard way and now that I have grasped that understanding, I am getting better and learning something new every day. I maintain a positive attitude and keep smiling, knowing that with the momentum I have right now, I will definitely be one of our WCC Certified representatives when the end of the new SQM year comes.
CREATING INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
“She now tries to keep the caller on the line while explaining what she is doing.”
She increased her scores from 2009 to 2010. Her focus had been on improving her overall results. In fact, she had improved her Calls Resolved, CSR Customer Satisfaction and Call Center Customer Satisfaction. During our coaching sessions we developed an Individual Development Plan which helped her to focus on what she could do to improve her SQM results and then we discussed what actions and/or behaviors she needed to adjust to realize her goals. For example, her hold time was pretty high. She began to understand that by putting the caller on hold, the caller might not have felt that she valued their time. She now tries to keep the caller on the line while explaining what she is doing. This has helped her connection with her callers because they feel they are part of the process and/or they know what is going on. She also focused on the length of her calls. Instead of keeping the caller on the phone while she documented information, she gathered the information needed and completed the documentation after the call ended. She not only improved her World Class Call results, but also her internal audits. She increased her opportunities to show our members the value of their benefits. She is very proud of her results and feels they have boosted her confidence to next level of servicing our customers!
RELATING TO OTHER PEOPLE’S PROBLEMS
“I do know that my compassion for people has really grown…”
I am pleased to nominate this CSR for the World Class Calls Improvement award. In 2009, it was disheartening for her to get survey results and she felt like she was unlucky with which customers that were surveyed -‘the luck of the draw’. Well, month after month, we talked about ways we could influence certain aspects of the call. She certainly found her stride, and it shows, in her average year-to-date CSR Sat, FCR and Top 5 Metrics. She has improved in every measure of SQM. Here is a quote from her, “I do know that my compassion for people has really grown because of what I have been going through recently with my friend who has terminal cancer. My thought behind every call I get is that everyone has a story or everyone is going through their own difficulties. The way I deal with each call can really have a positive impact or negative impact on their situation in that moment. So I guess it comes down to being more customer focused and remembering that this is one of our key strategies.”
APPRECIATING EACH CUSTOMER CONTACT
“Her focus on doing the right thing for each customer exemplifies our customer care objective.”
Our nominee is a hard worker who is dedicated to providing an enhanced customer experience during each and every contact she makes with the customer. She works well with her peers and celebrates her team’s successes. She has a positive attitude and takes every opportunity to appreciate each customer she comes in contact with. One of the challenges for her late last year was her First Call Resolution scores.
Her manager asked her to come up with one thing that she would do differently on all her calls that would have an immediate impact on customers. She put herself in the customers’ shoes and then analyzed the customers’ expectations. An example of feedback I commonly hear from customers is, ‘I was promised a call back and no one ever called me back’. This was something that she decided to change for all customers that she spoke with.
As a billing consultant, one of the key issues that she struggled with was the fact that the customers did not see any changes to their bills until the next bill was generated and sometimes they were skeptical. She started offering call backs to customers when she felt they were hesitant on the resolution that she had provided. Most of the customers found this very surprising, but what surprised them even more was that she did follow up to confirm if everything was okay on their bills.
Back in the month of May, she received a commendation from a customer who was extremely impressed with her customer service. This customer had called in multiple times before and was hesitant from the ‘get go’. This was his second call of the day to get clarification on his invoice (he had called in before and was transferred without being notified). When she got this call the customer was very upset and wanted to speak to a manager. She acknowledged the customer’s frustration and assured him that she would not transfer him, but rather, assist him with any questions he may have. By assuring the customer and demonstrating a willingness to assist, she was able to resolve his concern. She then called the customer back the following month to make sure he understood his new invoice.
While reporting to me, she has demonstrated excellence when dealing with customers. Her focus on doing the right thing for each customer exemplifies our customer care objective. We salute her and thank her for making a difference.
PERSONIFYING FIRST CALL RESOLUTION
“She attributes her achievement to listening more and talking less.”
At last year’s World Class CSR banquet, our nominee heard the story about a CSR who had achieved 100% World Class certification. From that moment on, she made it her personal mission to strive for that achievement for herself to provide that level of excellence for our customers. In 2009, she had earned a high percentage level on her World Class performance, but not being content with that level she went on to achieve an even higher percentage level of performance for CSR Csat, Call Center Satisfaction and Call Resolution.
She truly personifies first call resolution through listening, giving all her attention to every caller and making sure she has addressed their concerns. By doing this she was able to reach a remarkable achievement. It is very difficult to reach that level of satisfaction. We discuss her results every month and she learns from every customer interaction. In the past, she would sometimes get hooked in her desire to make a situation right. Now, she attributes her achievement to listening more and talking less. She really tunes in to what the customer needs and wants, so that she can acknowledge and act on it. This has had a tremendous impact on our customer’s satisfaction.
UNDERSTANDING CUSTOMER RETENTION IMPACT
“I end the call in such a way that I remind them what we discussed or resolved.”
He has increased his World Class percentage from the last certification period. Recently he won an internal award for his Voice of Customer surveys. He understands that his interaction with each of his callers has a direct impact on retaining customer loyalty. He also truly appreciates the important role that the Voice of the Customer has within our organization.
This is what he had to say about his main focus during this certification period, “I always ensure I meet my caller’s needs thus supporting member satisfaction and first call resolution. I completely respond to the member’s needs (voiced and not), I confirm the reason they called, I end the call in such a way that I remind them what we discussed or resolved, as well as giving the caller an opportunity to ask if they had any additional questions not yet addressed.”
In the comment section on his SQM Report Card, common themes used by his callers to describe their experience with him include: knowledgeable, informative, thorough, answered all questions, efficient, clear and concise, professional, courteous, friendly, good listener and goes the extra mile. Our callers recognize the customer service he provides often exceeds their expectations.
This is evident in calls transferred to a supervisor complimenting him on his outstanding customer service. Direct feedback from our callers include: He was very prompt with answers to my questions; displayed a clear understanding and was extremely efficient; I was very happy with the friendly and immediate assistance I received; he really listened and was very patient; he made me feel so important; he is the best rep ever; I’m just ecstatic; he was fabulous; he was so patient and so professional, I really appreciated that; he went beyond what a normal Customer Service Representative does; I was impressed; I used to work in a Customer Service industry so I do understand what you go through.
EMBRACING QUALITY CUSTOMER CARE
“She has focused on implementing recommended concepts on each interaction…”
In the last year, our nominee has had the most profound improvement in her customer interaction results and in her ability to balance the expectations that our customers and organization have of frontline agents. Watching her grow and develop her customer service skills over the past year has been a pleasure for me, both as her manager for the brief time she has reported to me and as a senior coach at our site.
She is committed to embracing quality customer care on every interaction, every day, which is evident in her amazing improvement on her SQM customer survey results. With the help of her managers, she has focused on implementing recommended concepts on each interaction that she has with her customers. Many of the techniques that she and her manager worked on to help improve her customers’ experiences were really focused on leveraging the recommended skills while also focusing on how she could respect their time and make herself more available to her customers. The weekly benchmarking of her results with her manager, along with listening to one of her calls every two weeks and then debriefing with her manager, have helped her become more aware of the little things she could do to make a big difference in her customer interactions. She learned and implemented that communicating with the customer about the live hold would help her better manage the customer’s expectations about live hold. Her learning made a difference in how the customers reacted to the hold and also helped her become more efficient and accountable to her customers. This was further enhanced by her ability to ensure that she was actively listening to her customer’s verbal queues and information before responding and asking for clarification. These techniques ensured that she was creating positive defining moments with her customers and that she was respecting their time while getting to the root issues so she could resolve issues quickly and accurately for them. She is now very proficient in handling any call type. She is utilizing these techniques and focusing on displaying that she cares to her customers through her positive, calm tone and word choice.
If you ask her what is the key to excellent customer service, she will tell you it is to demonstrate interest and concern by listening attentively, projecting a willingness to help and conveying respect. She is very modest about what she has accomplished in the past year and will tell you that she hasn’t done anything spectacular other than listen, acknowledge and do her job. In my observations of how she deals with her clients I also note that she never loses her patience with customers, no matter how they are and ensures that her customers have a productive outcome from their interaction. I am impressed with how she will now use affirmation and assurance statements in her calls to reduce any negative feedback or impressions that the customer may have of our organization’s services or representatives. This further supports why I have received feedback from her customers which says that she is patient with them and that they feel that she genuinely cares about their situation.
One of our valued customers had this to say about this agent after she had the pleasure of speaking with her: “I was very satisfied with her customer service; she was able to answer every question that I had. She was extremely courteous and knowledgeable; this was the best service I have had with any customer service agent ever!” She remains dedicated to excellence in customer service today, and we will continue to work together to help her achieve her goals. I would like to share that when she was told she was SQM certified and was being nominated as one of the most improved agents she responded with, “I will continue to help all my customers to the best of my ability every time!” This just shows how she approaches each situation and how even little changes can help make a difference in how our customers perceive us as representatives and as their service providers.
STRIVING FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE PERFECTION
“She put herself in the customers’ shoes.”
When it comes to customer service, our nominee is a perfectionist. She doesn’t accept poor service from anyone, especially herself. So when she learned she missed certification last year she asked, “How could this happen?” She knew that she always answered the customers’ questions accurately. She was efficient, accurate, and despite being relatively new to our organization, a good CSR. She blamed customers, the organization, resources, computer applications, etc. until finally settling on the main problem – herself. After reflecting for a few days, she had another conversation with her supervisor. They discussed why she was not consistently achieving World Class rated calls. She left the conversation disappointed but determined.
She discovered the main problem was her approach. Yes, she answered the customers’ questions accurately and specifically, but that’s all she answered – their questions. She was looking at customer service as a customer service representative, not a customer. And that’s when it all changed. From that moment on, she put herself in the customers’ shoes. She asked herself, what do they need to know but don’t know to ask? She started asking the customer questions. Immediately, she saw improved scores and an increase in compliments from her customers. Not only did she receive more recognition, but she also started feeling a stronger sense of pride about the job she was doing.
Customers have expressed satisfaction based on their conversations with her and this has resulted in an increase from last year’s score! She is more confident in both her approach and the level of service she provides. She passes along this service ethic to our trainees as part of her new role as a division mentor. She has truly earned her distinction of World Class Certified.
ADDING THE PERSONAL TOUCH
“She has been able to adapt verbal skills that ensure the customer has a positive experience.”
As this CSR’s supervisor, I consistently hear the care she gives each of her customers. In our business, you are dealing with an unfortunate situation where you need to gather details in order to process the claim yet create a positive customer experience. By treating her customer as a person and not a policy or a process, she has been able to increase her World Class calls this year. She recognizes that connecting positively with the customer is one of the most important parts of the job, “The personal touch to calls rather than a process”, as she so perfectly puts it. With her moving to the call center environment just less than 2 years ago, it was a learning curve to now exhibit care, help and empathy, verbally over the phone versus face-to-face.
In reviewing SQM surveys and listening to calls, she has been able to adapt verbal skills that ensure the customer has a positive experience and that they are being treated with respect. She recognizes her customers’ needs whether it’s efficiently gathering the details and setting up the claim so the caller can carry on with their day, or spending time listening to the caller who wants to converse; it’s the personal touch. An example of her care is when she answered a call from a very distraught customer. Concerned for this customer’s safety, she contacted the local authorities who went by the residence and provided assistance to the customer.
LEAVING THE NEGATIVITY BEHIND
“This pact to go the extra mile would help me more than I could ever imagine.”
In 2009, I was not a World Class certified representative. I acknowledge that, unfortunately, my focus just wasn’t where it should have been – our customers. I was leaving the call center on maternity leave in the middle of the year. Before leaving, I had formulated the plan that once my leave ended, I was not coming back to the call center. Knowing I was going to leave, subconsciously I wasn’t performing to my full potential. I wasn’t giving the World Class service that I had always displayed to our customers in the past. My customers deserved to have my full attention. While on maternity leave, I had gone through some drastic life changes and was forced to shift my priorities and put complete focus on my personal life. I also made the decision to come back to work earlier than I had anticipated. Digging deep, I knew with all of the tough changes in my life, I needed to do some hard work on my attitude. All the negativity in my life had to be left behind. I made a promise to myself, I was going to start fresh and give each and every customer my full attention. This pact to go the extra mile would help me more than I could ever imagine.
The first change I made was to actually listen to my customer. I would paraphrase the customer’s question right back to them. This definitely ensured I was focused at all times. I also started explaining things differently. I started talking to customers, using language that made sense to them.
The second change I made was when I understood that when I was speaking to customers, I never really gave them more information than they were expecting. At that time, it didn’t occur to me that by providing the appropriate extra information meant they would not need to call back – first call resolution!
I recognized that some customers may have questions that they don’t ask because they can’t verbalize their thoughts on some of the difficult topics. The third change I implemented was adding empathy to my conversations with my customers. I really struggled with that in the past. It can be difficult to show empathy to a customer when you don’t see them face-to-face. When I tried to convey a feeling of empathy, it felt like I wasn’t being sincere. Luckily, once I made the decision to really listen to the customer and to show my empathy, everything seemed to fall into place naturally. Knowing how I had to live through my own struggles, I could recognize that everyone has tough events to deal with. This was a big realization moment for me.
Before I left the workplace for my maternity leave, my World Class percentage was lower than I wanted. When I came back from my maternity leave and with the changes I implemented, I immediately noticed an amazing positive change in my SQM World Class results. This fueled my passion to continue on the path of exceptional customer service. At the end of this SQM year, I can truly say how very proud I am that I have improved my SQM World Class results. I have no plans to look back on my less than stellar results.
Recently, I have been rewarded with the opportunity to mentor colleagues on my team that are struggling with their customer service results. I am now a full time Learning and Development Specialist with our call center. It is up and away from here!