Practice Management

Beyond The Bottom Line

For all businesses, the value is in relationships

by Steven Lynch

Mr. Lynch is vice president of employee benefits national sales and service, OneAmerica®. Visit www.oneamerica.com

Companies are proud of their ratings strength, but are they as focused on their service ratings? I’d argue that valuing relationships is a goal that should be on equal footing. Both take vision, integrity, and planning.

A customer service representative I know very well receives rave reviews from brokers and clients alike. This person has been on the job for 35 years, so their passion to help the person at the other end of the phone call is consistent, authentic, and time-tested. Meanwhile, a veteran sales professional—whose customer is often altogether different—employs a similar philosophy and approach.

Your front-line relationships can be informative and inspired. Here are seven ways to do that.

Put your heart into it

Is a day’s work in the contact center a job, or a passion? Is each contact a call to greatness, whether it’s a process or a billing question? Does your customer service representative exercise empathy as they assist? After all, people are calling for help. And helping them means stepping up and meeting their needs, putting your heart into it.

Take care of it the first time

It should be the primary goal to take care of your customers’ needs on the first call. Resolve it. You have to stay with it, own it, and follow through until you finish. Be ready. Have the right resources accessible so you don’t make a short call long, know how to research and check with others on the team and be prompt with your solution-focused responses if a callback is required.

Be positive and prepared

Negative vibes or attitudes bring negative results. A natural tendency toward optimism goes a long way on customer calls, where small talk can lead to big results. Set a pleasant tone, which can have a surprising impact both in the workplace and on the phone. You’ll likely encounter a lot of easily-answerable questions. What feels mundane to you is expected by the policyholder. So get centered and prepare your mind before each call. Reflect and find focus.

It doesn’t get done alone: Ask for help

Supportive colleagues equate to teamwork, and that’s the root of getting the job done. Anyone can get to a point where you can’t do it all, so have people you can rely on to pitch in

Did you know that the No. 1 way to earn someone’s trust is to ask for help? That’s according to research guru Brené Brown, whose studies reveal that people who are willing to receive help show they’re also willing to give it. Supportive colleagues equate to teamwork, and that’s the root of getting the job done. Anyone can get to a point where you can’t do it all, so have people you can rely on to pitch in.

Build a track record from feedback

To be sure, your customer service professionals need to read from the same page to ensure consistency of experience (we call ours the OneAmerica Way.) But the best environments are both top down and bottom up in nature. By building a track record of solutions that make it easy for the caller, you can streamline processes which would allow time for more hands-on education and interaction. It makes the job fulfilling and it creates a perception that the call-taker’s input is appreciated.

Measure, measure, measure

At my company, data is a driver. Seek not just feedback, but feedback that pertains to a particular strength of your company, such as new-coverage implementation. We send follow-up surveys in four key areas —promptness; attention to detail and thoroughness; product knowledge; and politeness. Why? Well, the onboarding process can be a challenge and cause of frustration for policyholders and brokers, but if you do it right the first time, you don’t have to worry about getting a call of frustration – saving you time for those who truly need the assistance.

 

OneAmerica® is the marketing name for the companies of OneAmerica.