It takes a unique skillset to work in customer service in the health care industry. Lisa Rock, a customer service manager at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE), knows.

“We’re helping people with their health care and their finances,” Rock said. “Those are two incredibly important, sensitive things for our members.”

BCBSNE helps members smoothly navigate the health care industry by hiring compassionate, coachable employees with a passion for service, Michelle Greene, a BCBSNE customer service manager, said.

Once hired, customer service employees complete 8 to 10 weeks of training before working with members. Employees learn a new customer service principle each week of training, including active listening, how to answer questions in one call and how to advocate for members, Rock said.

From requests for new ID cards to helping members understand their bill, the customer service team assists with a variety of tasks. The team personalizes each call by matching the customer’s pace and needs.

“We try to give the customer what they need in that moment,” Rock said. “Each customer contact is unique, and it’s important we approach every call in such a way.”

Not all calls go smoothly, however. Working in customer service can be emotionally taxing, Greene said. Helping aggravated callers or members who’ve received a life-altering diagnosis takes a toll on employees.

“Tough calls happen every day,” Greene said. “Knowing the entire organization is here for our members helps. We couldn’t provide world-class service without everyone’s help and support.”

BCBSNE’s coaching program, which reinforces what employees learn in training, helps the team handle tough calls as well.

SQM Group, Inc., a leading market research firm, recently recognized BCBSNE’s customer service department with several awards, including one for its coaching program.

Other awards include highest employee satisfaction in the health care industry, world class employee satisfaction and contact center world class customer experience certification, to name a few.

Greene is most proud of her department’s employee satisfaction awards.

“It means everything for our employees to be able to say, ‘come work here; it’s a great place,’” Greene said. “We have a great culture, and we’re engaged and committed.”

This is the first year BCBSNE received the awards.

Overall, Greene said customer service is more than answering phone calls.

“It’s knowing I made a difference for someone today,” Greene said. “That’s an honor and privilege we don’t take lightly.”

“You really have to be passionate about helping others in difficult times,” Rock added.

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