This is your job.. Do it right!
Memo: My Experience and Definition of “Customer Service”
CC: Jeff Allison & Michelle Allen
From: Dana Sanders (CSA)
This past week I was faced with a customer service issue where I was the consumer and I received what was probably the worst customer service experience I’ve ever had in my life and it got me thinking. Because this is my job too and I hold a very definite mindset on what is truly the definition of my job.
This is an accounting of how I practice and operate and I felt compelled and motivated to write this in hopes that perhaps my experience and my personal definition of Customer Service might help CIGNA in its future. I would not want to see any of our customers and/or clients face the type of horrific customer service I received recently from a very large corporation. I had to make five phone calls and the problem was still not solved. I was left bitter and dissatisfied and feeling powerless to rectify the problem.
The CSAs I dealt with were rude, their tones were brusque, they gave off an obvious air of detachment from my issue and not one of them put in any effort to appease my problem. I was quoted the same thing repeatedly as if from a script, they sounded numb and as if they just wanted me off the phone, they gave the feeling as if they were bored and irritated that I was disturbing them with a valid issue. I was appalled at how I was treated, by not one, but several CSAs of this company.
My situation in comparison to the types of calls we service, really made me take pause and think. My problem was just over a pair of contact lenses, what if it had been over a very large hospital facility claim where my credit was at stake? Big difference, so this is why I am writing, in hopes that this type of situation is never faced by any of our clients or customers.
Allow me to make some allegories toward the role of a customer service representative. We are the front-line contact; we are the voice on the phone. To the caller we are CIGNA, we represent to them the company. My first and foremost response when taking a call is to assess the situation.
Is the caller viewing me as the “enemy” or “helper”? If they are facing a situation that is “hot”, are they are seeing me as the “enemy”? Probably. Because they are upset and it’s why they are calling CIGNA in the first place.
My first task when faced with this scenario is to change this caller’s mindset, because you cannot help a person who is seeing you as a threat. You must risk your AHT; give them the attention they need and deserve. Take control of the situation, get the caller to listen to you, be their helper not their enemy. When they trust you will be able to service them, you can do your job and not also have to deal with added tension.
After you gain the caller’s trust you can move on to focus on the problem. Again, yes, call time is important to focus on, but sometimes you have to let these worries go in order to help the caller properly. Get all the details, do the research, read past notes, get apprised of the situation, figure out WITHOUT THE CALLER HAVING TO REPEAT THEMSELVES what the issue is. Nothing makes a caller angrier than having to tell the same story over and over. If there is not enough information in the notes, be specific in your questioning. Ask clarifying questions and TAKE NOTES as you go. Don’t make the caller repeat an answer they already gave you.
Next, figure out the best course to SOLVE the situation. You do not want this person to have to call back. Take care of their issue the first time they call. It makes them happy, it decreases overall call volumes, and it makes CIGNA a leader in customer service. This is your job, take it seriously, don’t just push callers through, if they hang up with questions, any question, you’ve not done your job. Do not let the caller leave your phone line until all questions are satisfactorily answered.
If you have to make a phone call to get an answer… MAKE IT.
If you have to track down a claim or fax… TRY TO FIND IT.
If you have to make a phone call to a provider for a customer because they would like you to, if they are feeling daunted or scared or for any reason… MAKE IT BECAUSE THAT IS SUPERIOR CUSTOMER SERVICE.
Look at every call as a new call, give every person the same respect you would like him or her to give to you, make every effort to ensure the customer leaves happy and CONFIDENT they have made the best choice.
Be their comrade and not the “enemy”.
Do not under any circumstances leave out details when supplying the customer aid. Every detail, no matter how small, can effect a situation.
Sometimes there are obstacles that arise and sometimes even your best efforts will result in a second call. The best thing you can do in these situations to help your fellow CSA’s is to make sure you document the call accurately and COMPLETELY. Don’t leave out details that have relevance, nothing makes a call go more smoothly than to be able to look at an accurate call history accounting.
Did you make a call? Document who you called, who you spoke to and the Number you called.
What was your resolution? Document it.
Do you have to make a call back because it requires more research? Add notes to your comments as you do the research, date them, let the caller know when they call back to check progress that you are actively servicing them. It gives the other CSA taking the callback accurate and timely information and they in turn can let the caller know they are being serviced and that you will call them back when you have an answer.
Remember you are dealing with people, just like you. When you have a problem you want it solved. So do they.
Your job at CIGNA is to solve these problems, we are the front-line, and we are the voice of CIGNA. Be responsible, be empathetic, be honest and work for them, as you would like them to work for you if the roles were reversed.
That to me is real customer service. You are not only servicing an issue you are servicing a PERSON who needs your help.
Be the solution not part of the problem.