Real Stories Told by Agents at Ansafone Contact Centers! Get the Behind the Scenes of What It Takes to Help Life-Threatening Calls!

In this episode, we interview some of the agents at Ansafone to learn what it takes to handle life-threatening calls.

Interview Highlights:

Call Center Scenarios with Customer Agent Frances

Acting Quickly on Call Center Situations

Happy to be Working with Ansafone

Customer Care Case with Customer Service Agent

Why Do You Like Working at Ansafone?

It’s a People Business

Custom Rep Recognition

How do you Operate in Servicing a Call?

What is Active Listening?

Learning to be Adaptable

Where the Call May Go

Mindset of Our Customer Service Agents

Transcript:

[00:00:00] We’d would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Ansafone Contact Center’s podcast. As a leading provider of business process outsourcing and call center solutions Ansafone contact centers prides itself on 50 years of delivering world class customer experience and brand extension. We offer state of the art communications technology and outsource call center services, including inbound calls, outbound calls, hip a compliant, secure text messaging, email response, live chat and more. We provide a seamless extension of you.

[00:00:31] Hello everyone. This is your host, Craig Casaletto, and I’m here today with my co-host, Judy Lin. And we’re honored to take part in the ANSAFONE Contact Center’s podcast interview with several of the customer service reps here for Ansafone. So, thank you guys so much for being here. I want to start off by having you introduce yourself. Tell us what your role is, what you do, and how long have you been here?

[00:00:51] Francis, can you start off?

[00:00:53] Hi, my name is Francis Meda, I’ve been working here for almost two years. I’m a member services representative for a medical health plan.

[00:01:03] Okay, great. How about you, Michael?

[00:01:05] Good morning. I’m Michael Patterson.

[00:01:07] I’ve been with Ansafone since February of this year and I’ve worked with the medical insurance provider, one national and one local. I’ve been enjoying it quite a bit.

[00:01:25] My name is Paula Beecham. I started last July as a temp and got picked up in October. Doing a great job, though. I am a customer service rep. I was a dispatcher, so I move in. I’ve been around the company and enjoying it.

[00:01:41] All right. So, what do get kicked off by asking you like a really important question here? Can you each share a customer case where you felt like it required some required more sensitivity or discernment on your part? Francis, could you could you start off by telling us about a specific case that you remember?

[00:01:59] Of course, I had a mother call. She had just come from trying to pick up her 6-year old’s seizure prescription. The pharmacy kept rejecting the claim when I pulled up the prescription on our formulary that it appeared that it wasn’t covered anything anymore. So, at that point when I had to deliver that message to the mother, she lost it a little bit and she started cursing a lot. And when certain situations arise, we have desk level procedures where we were authorized to warn the member three times and we can disconnect. But that’s when it kind of hit home for me a little bit. I also have a daughter who’s about the same age as her son, and I was able to put myself in her position and ask myself, what would I do?

[00:02:50] And I would want somebody to find a solution for my daughter. So, I let her vent. I let her let it all out. And when that there is finally some room for me to speak, I was able to calm her down and connect it to a health navigator, which they were able to help the member and the member was able to get the prescription.

[00:03:11] You know, I think one of the things that people sometimes overlook, especially when they’re feeling like in a moment, of course, when they’re in a moment of crisis, is realizing the person they’re talking to you on your end is just a human being, just like they are like their mothers, their fathers, their sisters, their brothers.

[00:03:24] And they could probably I would say most likely we can relate to a lot of the situations that I’m sure you encounter with other callers and you can transfer your experience to them to hopefully get them to kind of maybe reduce their stress, so to speak.

[00:03:37] Yeah. And this is a very serious prescription and seizure. Prescription is pretty much life or death. It’s very scary.

[00:03:44] So I’m very happy I was able to help in some way. And the child got a prescription.

[00:03:51] And what about you, Paula? I’m interested to hear a customer case where you feel like it requires more sensitivity on your part.

[00:03:57] I had one a couple of months back. I had a caller. He, I guess, needed a wheelchair ramp.

[00:04:07] He said he traveled a lot and was on the go. So, he had a ramp, but it wasn’t suitable to him. He needed a 10-foot-long ramp. And so, I searched and to helped him because I know they’d need help and assistance and a lot of things since he was alone. He has to do by himself. So, he wanted it retractable 10 foot long and easy and like to carry it. So, I did go online, and I found him one, but it wasn’t 10 inches like he wanted it. So, I found him six inches, but it was retractable and light, and I threw in the carrying case so it was easy for him to carry. So, he says, well, maybe I can make that work because he’s been having a hard time and could get no help looking on his own. Then he was very, very grateful that I took the time because it took the hour and a half to assist him. So that does make me feel better when I found something for him and had a situation where I was able to express or did.

[00:05:09] He expressed gratitude for the help you gave him?

[00:05:12] He did.

[00:05:12] He called up my manager, and I ended up getting a little reward, not acknowledgment, of how much I assisted him and that he appreciated I’m sorry he took so much of my time, but he wanted them to understand that I did do something wonderful for him.

[00:05:33] Would you agree that it’s sometimes it’s just beyond just answering the call. Like sometimes you’re good, you’re doing things that you may not necessarily expect just to help that person.

[00:05:40] They don’t even expect it. They feel that the callers or other people don’t have the time or don’t want to spend the time with them. And I went out of my way to make sure, you know, because I chose many items after items after items for him. And he said I went over and beyond.

[00:05:59] Oh, yeah.

[00:06:01] I wanted to add this. I think that’s pretty amazing because I think most people’s experience, especially when you’re dealing with someone that you don’t know on the other side, the phone may be negative and their expectations of what type of service they’re going to receive may not necessarily be too high. So, when you do get that, that’s pretty refreshing and comforting.

[00:06:17] That’s true. Yeah. I have many customers tell me that the other people they talk to is rude and didn’t want to help. So, the few minutes that I spend with them, they see that I was trying to do it for them.

[00:06:31] Paula, I have a question for you. It’s a very interesting case that you’re sharing. And in cases like this, where let’s say the customer is slightly more demanding than normal, do you find that as a burden or do you find that you feel more determined to want to help them? Like, what’s your thought process or perspective on that?

[00:06:52] I feel more determined to help them out. I get them talk and especially irate. I love irate customers that day in my life to assist irate customer because they come on and then, like you say, a customer is now being very rude, cutting this off and stuff. It’s the last line to a point that we could share how I feel. I know how you feel. And now tell me more. You know, can I could tell you, but then I end up comforting them and they start being more polite and we end up laughing. And then at the end of the call, they’d be like, you know, this was a great call. You know, you a great person to talk to. I want to call you back and talk to you again, you know? I’m like, well, thank you. But that might not happen, though. But you have a great last day anyway. And, you know, that sends them off feeling better than when they first made the call.

[00:07:45] Yeah, it’s nice to be in demand. Yes, it is. How about you, Michael? Well, can you share a reference to a customer case, or you feel cried some sensitivity on your part?

[00:07:54] Really? All of them. You know, working with different health care branches of folks calling in for whatever it is, it’s already kind of a sensitive nature with no work. We’re saying you definitely want to be is that it can try to place yourself in their shoes as is possible and just kind of be in that mode from the outset. And the ones that are angry or for whatever reason, it definitely does help let them vent a little bit. Most folks just need to vent for a little bit. And, you know, they’re not in the room with me. So, you know, there’s it’s not going to hurt me. So, it just kind of let him go. And then you can kind of tell where there is no point where they’re ready to talk a little bit and then you can kind of get working on things. But yeah, this is just a sensitive business.

[00:08:57] So in the mode all time, when you take a phone call, do you ever like have an idea where the call may go or what direction it’s going in? And then based on maybe your experience and stuff, do you kind of like figure out like, all right. So maybe these are some of the things that I have to do or say to kind of get through it?

[00:09:15] Well, sure. There’s are scripts that we need to follow and there’s the way they were taught to handle the calls for, you know, maximum expediency. But you can’t shift into the cookie cutter mindset. You have to kind of fight that, even though you’re going through the steps as you’re trained to do. You know, you’re keeping an ear out and, you know, listen, to make sure that if the customer has needs beyond what are the obvious or what they’re stating, oftentimes the customers don’t know how to state what they want. And you kind of have to perceive and you read into it a little bit and then ask. And oftentimes they’re you know, oftentimes they that those extra things that, you know, they do need some attention on. So, you can help.

[00:10:13] Do you feel like your experience in dealing with certain callers can help you with future calls. Has that happened to you?

[00:10:20] Oh, sure. Yeah. Every call is a training session. We’re learning and every call, Michael.

[00:10:26] That’s a really good point about what you said about not just always fitting with that cookie cutter mindset and that it’s a super sensitive case. So. And in that way, do you find that you have to be pretty adaptable and think quickly on how to accommodate your customers’ requests?

[00:10:47] Yeah, very definitely. And, you know, keeping the ears open while I’m typing and kind of going through the process is challenging. You know, I’ve got to make sure I’m. In an active listening mode, we call it, and. And so, there’s times or I have to have them repeat something that I was just kind of on the edge of the consciousness because I was typing what they had previously told me. Oh, wait a minute. What was that? Let’s follow up on that, too.

[00:11:21] Can you elaborate a little more about that, what you said? Active listening. Can you just elaborate what you mean and the mindset of that?

[00:11:30] Sure. That’s one of the things we’re trying to do here at Ansafone is to be an active listener or, you know, where we’re taking in and, you know, trying to perceive and, you know, mentally catalog as much as possible all of the different things that we’re being asked over the telephone and. So, it’s those kinds of skills, you know, we’ve been keeping the ears open and not getting tunnel visioned into, you know, the task or. But, you know, keeping the communication going back or with a with a call or even, you know, saying hope you’re having a good day at the outset of the call.

[00:12:23] That’s amazing. The one thing I do want to add is it seems that really the skill behind answering calls is even more so listening as opposed to just talking.

[00:12:31] Right. And you think about it. You know, Michael spent talked about the active listening part, but it’s really not even so much talking to that person that’s on the phone, but actually listening to really what they have to say to address their concerns.

[00:12:42] So, yeah, I think it’s amazing. Just listening to all three of you is that I think from a general public’s perspective, I would never think that taking a customer service call was such a skill set. Like I had no idea there was so much like strategic thought process and certain mindsets and having the emotional navigation, so to speak. So, it’s quite it’s quite intriguing subject.

[00:13:12] So, Francis, I want to get your perspective on that previous question we asked in reference to being pretty adaptable and acting quickly and how those kinds of skills can help you during a phone call and trying to help out a customer.

[00:13:22] Every member is different. So, you can never make any assumptions.

[00:13:26] You always have to treat a begin the call, treating the member with respect and kindness. So, a lot of the time we have the ability to control and direct the call. The man, for example, the member can call upset and that week we can change that. We can definitely direct the call to where the member is fully satisfied by the end of the call.

[00:13:52] I think there’s a lot of people out there who may have had a negative experience or have a negative stereotype about call centers in general or customer service representatives that they get connected with over the phone to highlight kind of a flip side of that. Has there ever been a story or specific story about where you receive some really good recommendation from one of your callers, something that really stands out for you that you can highlight for us?

[00:14:15] At one point I even had a member started crying. She told me that prior to speaking to me, she had she had she was dealing with a lot. She spoke to different representatives. Could have been different companies. She was hesitant to call again or call the medical helpline.

[00:14:38] As she said, she did a little prayer. She said, please let me have a kind person and patient person. And by the end of a call, she asked me, you know, you’re exactly the person that I asked for. And I can’t believe it. And she started crying and made me cry.

[00:15:00] And it is very satisfying to be able to help people and offer them kindness. I think that’s what makes me want to come to work. What about you, Paula?

[00:15:13] Yes. I look forward in speaking with all of my callers.

[00:15:19] The one I was raised to treat people as I want to be treated. And that’s my first thought when speaking to the callers. Like we said, we all experience irate customers. And who’s tired of the run around, who needs answers, who needs direction. So, yes, I get my recognition because I get these all those who talk to several other people before they get to me and want to know this and that and this and that and where to go, who to talk to. So, of course, I sympathize because I know sometimes, I’m that caller and I wish and want someone understanding and patient on the line to calm me down and direct me to where I need to go. So, yes, I get customers who had other callers and still don’t know or get the answer that they’re looking for. So, I I’m like the buck stops here person, you know? OK. So, you had one, two, three. Let’s do one first. OK, one.

[00:16:28] I’m sorry I couldn’t help you more than I could. I’m not the right person that you need to contact. But let me tell you who you need to speak with. Then stop running around. I’m going to help you and I won’t give up until someone gets on the line and speaks with you. And they’re mostly gracious of that. It was like, oh, you’ve been wonderful, you know, even though you Clinton assist what I needed. But you were there to dial. Rock me til where I need to go, and that sometimes is what people need.

[00:16:59] Yeah, absolutely.

[00:17:00] I’m sure that’s so comforting on their part, just knowing that there’s someone out there that really genuinely wants to help them and support them and figure out whatever it is they need them to figure out, why not get the bounce around, jump around and phone tag in and this will stop the phone to call this number and go that way.

[00:17:19] As I was listening to you, Paula, I realize that, you know, it sounded like whether you got recognition or not, you were needing to service the person because it was just the right thing to do. Yes. And so is that how you operate for most of your calls is just based on your own personal ethics or personal, I guess, moral compass, whatever you want to call it.

[00:17:47] I say “E” all the above. That is my standards from the time I get up until the time I fall asleep, no matter where I’m at, unless, you know you are individual, where you know, I don’t need to be around or in touch, but I politely don’t. Thank you, you know. But that is my doing. That’s my way. That’s how I’m how I’m framed, you know? So, whether upbringing and teaching or learning on my own, I did customer service all my life. I used to even when I was in school, I was a student counsellor. I’m a student. And I’m still B.A. was a student counselor because I knew how other kids and other people period feel. I know and understand what they need and want because that’s me. You know, at one time that was me. And I wish there was somebody like me for me then, you know. But now that my standards and my thinking and I try not to go outside of that.

[00:18:53] Thank you so much.

[00:18:55] Michael, would you think? Is there anything specific about a story where you got some really good recognition from one of your callers and just stood out for you?

[00:19:04] The recognition is really nice. And, you know, when you hear that they’re surprised. And at the level of customer service, I have to agree, my co-worker, that’s always the real plus.

[00:19:20] But again, I agree more with Paula. You know, one of the one of the aspects, the character that we’re all trying to pursue is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.

[00:19:33] So, you know, the customers, if they if they say that that’s a real plus, but kind of getting the job done for them. And as part of this talk, the buck stops here. Customer service rep is a is really rewarding.

[00:19:53] And again, you know, the all the medical issues are, you know, the whatever the whatever is going on in the lives of the customers who are calling and need assistance.

[00:20:10] The difficulties and things help was to be in their shoes and to, you know, be the person if want if we were calling.

[00:20:21] You know, it’s amazing. The more I hear each and every one of you talk about your experiences, the more I realize that you’re probably less about being in the call center business and more about being in the people business. Right. Because it’s really all about dealing with people. Right. I mean, you may be actually answering the phone, but you’re really just dealing with people. And that’s pretty amazing. I think that’s a very special talent that each everyone of you have. So, Michael, I wanted to ask you maybe could pose this question to everyone here is like, what do you like about working here at Ansafone?

[00:20:52] The people-based business is, you know why I’m here doing work with customers and that’s why I was looking for a customer service sort of go and answer. Phone has been a really great place to work. The crew has all been really very nice. And the supervisors and co-workers, they’re looking out for you.

[00:21:18] I might call them or flag them down and you know, they’re there to help to get the job done and do the team thing.

[00:21:28] It’s really good.

[00:21:31] What about you, Francis? I would have to say the people, the people that we speak to on the phone and our co-workers. I experience that no matter how about our day, my day goes we’ve kind of developed like this, this team work, friendship. And I know that I can always go with any of them or support.

[00:21:55] Paula? I do appreciate that Ansafone picked me up, but I feel like I’m was contracted to assist and give the best customer service that I can. And that’s what I do every time I put on my headphones and get on the phone. Just be the best customer service possible.

[00:22:13] Do you feel with other customer service representatives here that you have your own community because you share in a lot of the same type of things that you, you’ll experience the same things when you’re talking to people on the phone. You have a sense of community here with other customer service reps.

[00:22:28] Oh, yes, we all do. I mostly get other associates to tell me that they hear me when I’m on a call and how I move them from across the room that they can understand and see how my callers feel every time I speak with them. That is my greatest achievement and satisfaction is from my customer.

[00:22:52] It’s awesome. Is there anything that any of you would like to add in reference to anything we spoke about or something maybe we didn’t touch on today?

[00:23:00] Be who you are, and you want this company to be known as having the best caring and up-going employees. And you just need to think that. You’re are not at home where you, with your friends or whatever you come into, represent the company and also shine and let the company see how much you shine. Yeah.

[00:23:28] Yeah, I would agree with Paula. It’s you know, you want every call to be as good as it can be and as helpful as it can be. And, you know, you want them to be glad that they called in and talk to, you know, talk to your company and talk to the providers. And, you know, you want the providers happy that they’re working with Ansafone.

[00:23:56] And I think you have the conscious when you start the day, just have the mindset in which you can. The goal is to facilitate someone’s daily task and hopefully you give them a pay it forward type of experience.

[00:24:18] You know, I think I could speak for Judy here when I say that it’s really been an absolute honor to speak with each and every one of you. I’ve learned a lot today about what you guys are doing. And I have a greater appreciation for the job that you’re doing and helping everyone, because that could be me one day. It probably has been me at one point. But the role that you guys are playing is such a significant role. And I think you guys are just doing an amazing job. And I appreciate each and every one of you to share your stories and what you’re doing here at Ansafone. So, I want to thank you for that.

[00:24:51] Yeah, I just want to definitely thank the three of you for coming out and sharing this lovely podcast. I think like Craig, I learned great things about this industry and what Ansafone is about. And I would have never thought how much was involved in being a call center representative. And I totally respect that. And I learned about emotional intelligence and about your active listening and some other great attributes that you have. And thank you so much for coming out. Really appreciate it. Thank you, guys.

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