August 01, 2014 | Written by: Donna Masciovecchio, Membership Services Manager
I asked the members of my team to tell a story about how they put our core values into practice each day in order to relieve our members from having to face one of life’s most intense emotional nightmares. Here’s what The Rubies Team − Ezra White, Sheri Williams, Anthony Webber and Karisa Roraback − had to say:
We are sensitive, compassionate and concerned. We are tireless advocates.
My oldest daughter has some medical issues that we have had to deal with her entire life. My wife and I have spoken to dozens of insurance representatives from different programs and hospitals. There is always one constant: this is our child’s life we are dealing with.
When members call the Membership Service Department, they have received a letter from the IRS. It is the worst nightmare of many people. The IRS is scary to most people. People are unsure of what they can do or what the letter even means. That’s where we step in.
I try to remember what it is like calling a medical insurance company to speak about my daughter’s coverage. When we make those calls, it is always the most important thing in our lives. When a member calls us to report that they have received a letter, they are imagining the worst possibilities and it is the most important thing in their lives.
I make sure they understand what I am saying. I don’t need to use fancy language. I don’t need to use abbreviations. I don’t need to tell them how I am right and they are wrong. I don’t care if they get my name right. I want to make sure they feel better and know what they need to do to when we are done with the call. I want them to know that we will do everything we can to help them. These people have spouses and children and jobs to worry about. To many people, a letter from the IRS threatens their very lives.
When working with members I try to make sure I show that I understand how they are feeling. I find that a member wants their feelings acknowledged and understood. They don’t want to be talked down to, made to feel like a child or rushed to feel like they are just another member. They have a lot going through their minds when they make that call to us, and I try to make sure I treat them as I would want to be treated if I were in their shoes. I make sure that I don’t just let them talk but I listen and acknowledge their concerns. I think when a member feels cared about they are more inclined to work with us and get us what we need so that we can help them with their issue.
Being empathetic is the first step towards providing a customer with the best experience possible and is arguably the most important aspect of the whole process, especially when dealing with situations in which the customer might be fearful or scared.
One example of this from my own experiences would be a case in which a member called to report an IRS notice, having never been audited before in his 50 years of filing taxes. He hadn’t been worried about receiving a letter since he had never received one before and said that he purchased audit defense while filing his return just because it was offered to him. When he called, he had no idea what might have triggered the notice and felt completely blindsided by it without any idea where to begin. I explained to the member that not only would we be able to shine light on exactly what triggered the notice so that he wouldn’t feel like he is in the dark, but that we would also defend him, standing between him and the IRS so that he isn’t alone in his endeavor. And while the member was worried about the IRS, he was more concerned with his wife’s reaction to the notice. The member told me that he is retired now while his wife still works for a famous museum, so his main job is to take care of their taxes. He explained to me that the last thing that he wanted was for his wife to find out that he had made a mistake on their return and think less of him for it. I told him that mistakes happen and everyone makes them, that it might not have even been his fault, but that we are on his side and won’t let him feel like the IRS is bullying him into paying what he doesn’t owe. By the end of the call, the member sounded more cheerful, stating that he was very happy with our service and was so glad he had purchased the memberships and would continue to do so in the future because we had made a loyal customer out of him.
Empathy, Service, Respect
One of the things I like most about this job is that I can help ease someone’s worries in just a few minutes. Just a couple of weeks ago a member called me very worried about the notice that she received from the IRS. She had never received a notice or used our service before and thought that she would have to battle with the IRS by herself. I explained our process to her and told her that we would handle all correspondence with the IRS for her. She was so grateful and I was glad to have been able to calm her worries. She thanked me for being patient and understanding and said that she knew her experience with us was going to be a good one.
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