Don B: Building Rapport with Agents and Members
“By the time we’re done with our conversation, members almost consider you a friend or advocate.”
Don B. is one of a few agents who brings a background other than clinical service to his job; he’s been in insurance his whole career. As a professional underwriter, he’s examined thousands of medical records over time and acquired a mastery of medical terminology on a clinical level. He’s been with Conduent for 13 years and supports agents as a team lead. He’s articulate, good-natured, and dedicated to the goals of building positive interactions and engagement with health plans that the agents on his team represent.
Addressing the barriers that members face
During his years making calls as an agent, Don saw patterns in barriers cited by health plan members as reasons they’d been unable to access preventive healthcare services. Among them: costs and misunderstandings about costs. “A lot of people are not aware that they can get wellness visits and preventive screenings like mammograms at no cost.” Don adds, “We never say something is free. . . . If we’re talking about screenings, we can say there should be no cost to you. If, however, during a colonoscopy, the doctor finds polyps and removes them, then only the screening is covered at no cost. For details about what the member’s plan covers [for the polyp removal procedure], we refer them to back to the insurer. If members do not want to go into a clinic for certain screenings, which is something that came up frequently during COVID-19, agents are able to offer home-testing kits to screen for colon cancer, for example, and generally there is no cost for the kit or to get results.”
Building rapport with members
Don speaks with ease, clarity, and authority. Finding things in common with members was a skill that came easily for him. “Obviously, we have a script, but we are able to go off script to make calls more conversational . . . Often, by the time we’re done with our conversation, members almost consider you a friend or advocate,” which Berger finds especially rewarding.
“A lot of times when you get someone on the phone, they will tell you what’s going on, their current situation. Maybe they had a death in the family. Maybe they experienced some kind of weather-related disaster,” he says. “Just being empathetic in that situation goes a long way.” Another path for building rapport is embedded into the agents’ script. Agents are required to verify the member’s identity, which can be done with birthdays. Don would find something in common with those birthdays, perhaps his own, a friend’s, or a relative’s. Cities where members live may have been a place that Don or someone he knew had visited and he could offer an observation, which helped keep the conversational tone of the call.
Supporting the agents as a team lead
When calls are difficult or unsettling, agents might need a break before going on to the next call. “Our management style here is flexible. We will do anything in our power to work with someone, and if they need additional support, that’s what we’re here to provide.” Conduent places a priority on building and keeping cohesive, supportive teams. Don holds biweekly 15-minute team huddles where agents get updates and announcements and can ask questions. “As long as people know what’s going on, whether in our department or in the whole company, I think they feel a part of things.” If an agent gets a compliment, especially if they want to speak with the agent’s supervisor to say what a good job the agent had done, “we’ll share that with the whole team.”
Listen to Don in his own words.