Welcome to “A Day in the Life”—a new Frontline series that follows staff members from different areas of VNSNY as they go through a typical day at work.
Contact Center Shared Services (CCSS) representatives often provide the first direct contact that many current or potential consumers have with VNSNY. Just a few minutes on the phone can have a dramatic impact, coloring a consumer’s entire experience with the organization. A good call addresses questions, solves problems, and makes the caller feel valued and heard. A less than stellar one risks doing the exact opposite.
An eight-year VNSNY veteran, Cristiana Coronado supervises a team of 20 agents at Contact Center Shared Services (CCSS), VNSNY’s center for responding to consumer inquiries and issues within its various lines of business. “This department is 24/7, and we are the frontline of the organization,” Cristiana explains. “Consumers might need to know an estimated time of arrival for their care provider, or maybe they’re checking on the status of their supplies order. If they’re experiencing a clinical issue, we’ll get one of our nurses on the line to assist by triaging the call and determining what is best for the patient. Or the consumer on the line could be someone who’s upset or has called multiple times for the same issue, in which case our role is to defuse the situation and try to change their experience. I started out as a customer-care representative myself, so I identify with the agents on my team. As supervisor, my role is to motivate, encourage, and develop them. It’s about being there for them and giving them the tools and resources they need to succeed, so they can provide our consumers with the very best possible experience with VNSNY.”
We asked Cristiana to take us through a typical day.
I guess you could call me a very early bird! I wake up at 4:30 in the morning every day to head out of the house and work out. Since I work from home, this routine helps me find my balance. By the time I get back, I’m energized and ready to take on the day.
My work day begins! Because we operate 24/7, calls and messages are always coming in, so I hit the ground running the second I log in. If an agent is handling a difficult call and the caller asks to speak to a manager, I might have to hop on the call immediately. But generally, I review my emails and confirm through Workforce Management all the staff who are working, then check the queue to ensure we are meeting the required service level. If it looks like we’re having a challenging morning or our service level of 80% or above is at risk due to staffing shortages, I might reach out to other agents to see whether they might want to assist our department with overtime. Workforce might also reassign lunches and breaks to accommodate business needs. A few agents at CCSS are cross-trained, so if one team is exceeding service levels, their agents can pitch in for another team that might be struggling to meet theirs at any given time.
I send out a message to my team to set the tone and the expectations for the day, outlining our goals as a team and any new projects that might be starting on that particular day. Since Workforce has already done the forecasting, we have an idea as to when our busiest intervals will be. I give my team the game plan so they can focus and get through those intervals successfully. Generally, our busiest times tend to be between 9 and 11 a.m., so if we dip a little below service level during that period, I know I might have to jump on a few calls myself.
I have a morning huddle with the director of Customer Care, Peggy Taber, and the other supervisor in my department, who also oversees 20 agents. We discuss the game plan for the day, as well as any underlying issues that have come up, any upcoming meetings, or any new projects or training that the agents might need to prepare for. For instance, we recently started assisting with the Gender Affirmation Program, so we had to make sure that our agents understood the program and underwent the training. The huddle usually lasts about half an hour, and maybe 45 minutes if there’s something new on the agenda.
I work from home, so “lunch” for me means grabbing a bite to eat and getting right back to work. Every now and then it’s good to step away, but I rarely do. I’m constantly monitoring the queue to make sure we’re meeting service levels. And I like to make myself available to the agents as much as I can. In fact, my agents are so used to my instant responses that they worry there’s something wrong if they can’t get hold of me immediately!
All day long
If I see that an agent has been on a call for a very long time, I’ll message them on Microsoft Teams to make sure they’re okay. Sometimes it’s just a client who has a lot of questions, but other times it’s a difficult call and the agent needs some support. If it’s a complicated or irate caller, I may step in and handle the call myself.
I have weekly one-on-one meetings with all my agents, usually on Wednesdays or Thursdays, to discuss their performance, goals and any observations or ideas that they might have. But If I see that an agent is struggling, or has had a frustrating call, or needs some support, I don’t wait—I reach out to the agent and address it right away. Sometimes they just need to know that they did everything they could. Sometimes we talk about how they could have handled the call differently, so they’re better prepared next time. Or maybe they could benefit from a refresher course for that particular part of the workflow. I think it’s important to nip issues in the bud. If you put things off, they can snowball. I support my team 100 percent; if something was done incorrectly, I see it as a learning experience.
End of the day
My day technically ends at 4:30 p.m., but I have to admit that I keep my phone on and I do answer it after that time. It might be an emergency request from an agent, or something that came up in the last minute. Call me a workaholic, but it’s hard for me to just tune out completely. I feel so much better sending a quick text or taking a quick call to resolve things, even if it’s after hours. That doesn’t affect my work/life balance, or my quality time with my husband and daughter. I always have my weekends to recharge!