“We emphasize in training that we want the people we call to feel like they’re members of our family.”
Marissa C. is a team lead who joined Conduent as part of the first bilingual team of agents. Language can be a frustrating barrier for members navigating the healthcare system. And it’s one that Marissa is particularly qualified to tackle, having worked for many years as a medical interpreter. She has also worked in clinical settings and served as a nurse in the neurosciences department of a large hospital. “I speak Spanish well, and the experience of going to different communities in the Chicagoland region allowed me to enjoy helping many people with that obstacle of communicating to others how they feel or what is going on with them.”
Approach to building rapport, trust
Because most agents that Conduent employs have a medical background, they can introduce themselves as part of a nursing or medical team with clinical experience. “Members may feel a little bit more comfortable knowing they’re speaking to somebody professional, and members appreciate being shown respect and empathy throughout the call.” Still, there are instances when the timing of a call doesn’t work for them, and they say so. Because an important goal for calls is to create a positive experience for members on behalf of the health plan (rather than meeting a strict quota for calls), agents can politely accommodate the members by offering to call back. “That’s okay, we understand” is a response that inspires mutual respect, keeps the conversation on a positive note, and improves the likelihood that the member will be willing to talk when the next agent calls. “I think the personalization of the way we handle the beginning of calls makes such a difference,” Marissa says.
Most memorable call
Well before COVID-19 and social distancing entered everyday life, Conduent transitioned agents away from a call-center model to a distributed approach, setting agents up with well-equipped home offices. That foresight gave Conduent an advantage when the pandemic did emerge. Conduent didn’t have to scramble to keep business running smoothly, didn’t need to rely on less-than-perfect technology solutions or figure out new ways to comply with HIPAA’s stringent privacy requirements in the new settings. Conduent agents’ strong rapport-building skills took on even more importance as the pandemic took a heavier toll on lives.
Marissa remembers calling an elderly man who was initially irritable and hesitant to speak with her. “ ‘How do I know who you are?’ ” he asked her. “I had to explain who I am and how I am trying to help him.” At that point, she says he fell apart and told her that his wife had recently died of COVID-19. “He admitted, ‘You know, I haven’t had time to do any of my preventative care. My wife used to handle it all. She had to take care of all the bills, she used to clean, and I’m here trying to figure things out.’ ”
“I can help you,” Marissa said. She told him she could help him set up his doctor’s appointments and get a test kit sent to his home, because he was diabetic. “He was so appreciative. He was so happy that he got squared away with so many things that he just kept putting off, and he said, ‘OK, now that I’ve got you on the phone, here’s what else I haven’t done,’ and so it just kept going. It was a long call, but it was so beneficial to him and I’m so glad I was able to help him.”