This happened about two Fridays ago. That entire week we were slammed with calls, and I think 4/5 of the calls irritated the hell out of me. I wanted to post about two in particular that made me want to quit, but I think all of us here could use a little lightheartedness.
So, for context, I take inbound calls for an insurance company in Texas. I don’t actually live in Texas, we’re just a 3rd party call center. Some of our members have Medicare plans, and if those members express the slightest displeasure with anything, even if it’s as simple as “Oh. Well, I wish there was a doctor a little bit closer… but oh well”, we have to file this displeasure for the insurance company to review it. Any other non-Medicare policy has to explicitly state “I want to file a complaint”, but Medicare members get extra special care.
I’ll be Me, and Nice Grandpa will be NG.
Me: “Hi there! Thank you for calling Insurance Company. My name is Short-Haired Nymph, how may I assist you today?”
NG: “Hello, Short-Haired Nymph. I received a very disturbing letter threatening to cancel my insurance.”
Wow, okay, that’s the opener. I roll my eyes and restrain from a heaving sigh as I get comfortable, already opening up the form I need to document that this member is displeased, which is separate from the form documenting anything else we discuss on this call. So I apologize to him for the confusion and the frustration, and after some questions we figure out that it’s essentially just a late letter–not “threatening” at all, it just says if you don’t pay your monthly payment, you get disenrolled. But, again, he’s an elderly man, and letters like that can kinda seem scary, I guess.
Well, after talking to him some more, we figure out that his automatic payments had never been set up, when they should have been from the last time he called in. Woops, someone screwed up on our end. I take a look at the previous call notes which show that he canceled his previous automatic payments, but nothing about setting up his new one. Weird. Caller tells me that they went through the new card info and everything, so now I’m thinking about how glad I am to not be the previous person the caller spoke to, because that person is going to get their ass chewed out for not following through for a Medicare member.
I apologize profusely to the member, and offer to both take a one-time payment to ensure he’s paid for this month, and then get him set up on automatic payments again using the new card. He accepts, and mentions that he’d like to take care of this quickly as he has a dinner date to get to and he’s already a bit late. So, I take his card info.
Me: *reading it back* “Does that all sound correct?”
NG: “Yes, ma’am.”
Me: “Perfect! Let me go ahead and save this…”
NG: “Is that all you need from me? Can I go now?”
At this point my breath hitches because he’s been nice so far, but our older and elderly members don’t much like our procedures that take too long for them, and I have to tell him there’s more to do.
Me: “I’m so sorry sir, not yet, I do need just a teensy bit more info from you before we can disconnect. I understand you have plans this evening, so I want to help you get this resolved as quickly as possible, okay?”
NG: “Oh! Oh, no no, you don’t have to be sorry for anything. That can wait, this is more important, you just take your time so we can get this done right this time. My apologies. I don’t mean to rush you.”
Aww… well. Okay! That’s one of the nicest things an upset Medicare member has ever said to me. I thank him for his patience and we keep going. I have to go through three separate processes: I have to take down the new card/payment information and save it, then I have to take the one-time payment for the month and save that into the system, and then I have to get him set up on the automatic payments and save that info, and the auto-pay requires quite a bit more info from myself and the member than the other two processes do. Plus, I have to read back all the information to make sure it’s correct so that this caller doesn’t encounter the same issue again. There are also a bunch of confirmation numbers that I have to read back. So I asked the member early on (when I got his e-mail) if I could confirm letters and numbers using military phonetics.
This whole time, the caller is incredibly nice. That whole week I had been screamed at, hassled, interrupted–I mean the whole nine yards. And then this caller was really patient to make sure we got it all done correctly, said “yes, ma’am” and “yes please” and “thank you”–and I think he only interrupted me once and immediately afterward followed up with “I’m so sorry to cut you off, ma’am; I’m just very upset about this situation, but I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have cut you off. Please continue, I’m sorry.”
So we finish up everything, and I read the last confirmation number, again, using NATO phonetics, and give my pre-close.
NG: “Okay, I have the confirmation. But that’ll be e-mailed to me too, right?”
Me: “Yes sir, you should have two e-mails, one for the one-time payment and one for the auto-pay.”
NG: “That’s very good news, that’s very good. Thank you so much, Short-Haired Nymph, you have been such a huge help. Somebody really dropped the ball somewhere but you’ve been so patient with me and very, very sweet. Were you ever in the service?”
Me: “I’m more than happy to help! I’ve never been in the service, no. I entertained the notion briefly but, yanno, I just don’t think I have the disposition, haha!”
NG: “I see, I see–please, please don’t. You’re much too sweet for that kind of life. You sound like the most adorable young lady.”
Me: “Aww, haha, thank you! I try! Now, I remember you said you had a dinner date, so I’ll let you go about your evening, and I apologize again that we didn’t take care of this for you when you last called in, otherwise you wouldn’t be late today. But before I let you go, I just want to be sure, since we want to give you the best customer service, was there anything else that I could assist you with today, Mr. (Name)?”
NG: “Yes ma’am, you can do one last thing for me: have a blessed evening and a good holiday next week, can you do that, please?”
Me, clutching my chest because this man is SO SWEET: “Of course, sir, you bet I will, so long as you promise to do the same!”
NG: “Oh, yes, thank you very very much. You’ve been so sweet and such a huge help, and I really appreciate your patience today. Thank you, Ms Short-Haired Nymph, you take care now.”
Me: “You too, Mr (Name)! Thank you for calling Insurance Company, (insert the rest of my closing which is super specific to my company and I think would end up identifying them).”
I had to deal with the dumbest, most frustrating providers, and then a lawyer calling in about subrogation who refused to speak with our legal offices who handle subrogation cases, and members who kept harassing me and bullying me–and then I took this very call about 45 minutes before I had to clock out. The call itself was only 30 minutes long, and then all the documentation I had to do took up the remaining fifteen minutes (plus it has to be reviewed as the complaints are technically considered legal documents and need reviewing anyway, but the ones filed for Medicare members are under even closer scrutiny). So it ended up being the very last call I took that week, on top of all the awful calls I’d taken previously. Took a huge amount of stress off my shoulders.