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Mary Beth K: Helping Members to Help Themselves — With a Smile

“I’ve found that when I’m smiling, like actually physically smiling on the other end of the phone, members respond differently.”

Mary Beth K. worked as a registered nurse in emergency rooms and intensive care units for 10 years before joining Conduent, where she found more flexible work that benefited from her ability to communicate and relate with people from all walks of life. Conduent feels like a home to her. “I really love what I do,” says Mary Beth, who has been with Conduent for 12 years and is now a team lead.

Mary Beth channeled her positive attitude directly into the calls she made as an agent, “I’ve found that when I’m smiling, like actually physically smiling on the other end of the phone, members respond differently.” When the agents she supervises are having difficulties with a member, Mary Beth includes in her counsel a reminder to keep smiling, because it helps put members at ease.


Approach to calls

Each call presents three opportunities, Mary Beth says. One is practical: helping cross something off the member’s “to-do” list. The second, a kindness that is likely to leave a lasting impression: “making a little bit of difference in the member’s day.” And the third, perhaps the most essential: providing some hope, especially for members struggling with loneliness and depression.

“If they’re anything like me,” Mary Beth says, “you know that preventative care portion of my health is always on the to-do list that [I] have running through everyday life. And as things come up, preventative care kind of moves down in priority level. . . . But we have an advantage. 

We’ve already got [a member] on the phone. We can say, ‘Hey, look, I can make that appointment for you right now. You can cross it off your to-do list. We can get that done and you can always change your mind if something comes up.’”


Listen to Mary Beth in her own words.


If agents discover that limited income is posing additional challenges for members, they can refer them to community resources that can help. If the member is severely depressed and expressing hopelessness, agents can alert supervisors who let the health plan know and also request that local law enforcement make a wellness visit. Mary Beth says agents will typically stay on the line with the member until help arrives.

“People know that it’s more than just a neighbor or their family looking in on them. We’re alone sometimes because of the circumstances that the world is in today, and I think by having people just go that one step further, you can make a great difference in people’s lives,” Mary Beth says.

Conduent’s commitment to helping members have positive engagement with health plans emphasizes quality interactions. Success is more than the number of calls made and appointments scheduled, and agents derive satisfaction purely from helping members take charge of their health. Ultimately, agents are unlikely to know the outcome of their calls. “If I’m not successful in scheduling appointments,” Mary Beth says, “just by taking the five minutes to hear somebody out, I can really make a difference in their day-to-day life.”