ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


How UPMC Health Plan Reduced New Hire Attrition By 25%

Learn more about UPMC Health Plan, winner of the 2017 ICMI Global Contact Center Award for Best Large Contact Center

“UPMC is an exemplary case study in customer-focused service. The summaries of tackling growth and turnover challenges are excellent. Congratulations for looking at video for hearing impaired--that could be an exciting future development. Great holistic approach to addressing turnover and growth. A CES score of 93.1% is impressive!”

      - 2017 ICMI Global Contact Center Awards Judges

UPMC Health Plan is no stranger to winning. Over the years, they’ve earned industry awards for their use of technology, customer experience, management team, and more. This year they received the ICMI Global Contact Center Award for Best Large Contact Center.

UPMC Health Plan, ICMI Global Contact Center Awards

Their achievements are numerous and impressive. An FCR score of over 97% and a Customer Effort score over 93% are two of their proudest accomplishments. But what makes this team so remarkable is their constant drive to improve, and their willingness to address challenges head-on. Their biggest problem over the past year: new hire retention.

Tackling New Hire Turnover Rates

“Unfortunately, we hit a bump in the road when in November of 2015 we experienced an all-time turnover rate for new hires (within one year). Our teams quickly jumped into action to reduce our turnover, knowing we needed to have an even stronger emphasis on engagement,” said Anne Palmerine, Vice President, Customer Engagement & Enrollment Services, UPMC Health Plan.

How did they do this?  They revamped every aspect of the hiring and training process, from recruiting to onboarding, and training--and every touch point in between.

One of the most notable changes was involving senior level executives in the process. Now, all new hires have the chance to interact with senior management. UPMC Health Plan hosts a weekly “meet and greet” that allows new hires to interact in small groups with senior leadership. The Associate VP, Director of Member Services, and two Directors of Enrollment attend each session, with the pure intent of connecting with and learning more about new employees. It’s a small gesture that reinforces to the new hires that they made a good decision in joining the team, and sets the expectation that they can build a successful career at UPMC Health Plan.

After the initial meet and greet, employees are invited to attend another session six months from their start date. The leadership team sees this continuous communication with front line employees as an opportunity to help them grow and improve, and agents seem to agree.

“I really appreciate the focus groups and meeting with senior leadership,” said UPMC contact center agent John Pignatelli. “I think it helps to drive change for day to day operations and is an excellent opportunity for entry level reps to have some input.”

The hiring and retention plan overhaul has paid off big time. New hire turnover rates dropped by more than 25% in one year, saving the company $836,000. And the quest to improve continues!

Nurturing Employee Growth

If you’ve read the articles about other 2017 ICMI Global Contact Center Award winners, you’ve probably noticed a common characteristic by now. Best in class contact centers focus on employee growth and development. That’s certainly the case at UPMC Health Plan.

Every six months, employees engage in formal career-pathing meetings with their manager. Often, agents express interest in moving to a higher tier of support, but they discuss long term goals, too. Managers encourage honest, open dialogue about future career opportunities, and work to identify skills and projects that would help them to aspire to the position they are seeking. With individualized resources and information in hand, managers and agents develop an action that might include job shadowing in a different department, working on a collaborative project with another team, or networking with colleagues.

As internal positions become available, managers share those with employees who’ve expressed an interest in related roles. Other departments know that internal hires from the contact center are well trained, intelligent, hardworking, and understand customers better than anyone, which gives agents an edge. And when contact center employees earn a promotion, there’s a celebration. Management sends a celebratory email to the entire team, and their department hosts a going away lunch on their last day. Palmerine says she loves watching agents move on to new roles within the company.

“We know that each team member that leaves our department to go to another part of the company takes the spirit of service with them, as well as a strong understanding of our members’ needs,” she says.  We have watched many of our team members become Managers, Senior Managers, and even Directors. We are partnered with them no matter which department they may move to, and it helps to strengthen our company.”

Employees see the value in their career-pathing program, too.

“I began my career at UPMC Health Plan on the Member Services Team. Through training sessions and constant mentoring I learned how to become a successful service representative,” says Ryan Mathieu, Sr. Manager, Specialty Products Administration. “The call center prepares you for growth in the health insurance industry by teaching you the basics of the business, i.e. how do benefits work? Why did the claim pay a certain way? These questions are complex and require much research, so patience is necessary. My daily interactions and support of Team Leads and Supervisors instilled this quality in me, and for that I am thankful.”

Doing What’s Best for Customers

Doing what’s best for employees has undoubtedly helped UPMC Health Plan succeed, but so has a customer-centric mission. UPMC Health Plan strives to take the complexity out of health insurance and make the service experience simple for its customers. That means offering support when and where their members need it.

“At UPMC Health Plan, we feel strongly about our members being able to reach us via the channel that is most convenient for them. We work to provide service that is world class and don’t limit ourselves to what you would usually see from a health insurance provider,” says Palmerine.

UPMC Health Plan was the first health plan in Pennsylvania to offer live online chat. They also provide email, web messaging and even social media support. Beyond that, they work to provide a high level of proactive outbound service to welcome members, address preventive health care needs, pharmacy authorizations, and to discuss any changes to their health plan.

And they’re always thinking of what’s next.  In Customer Service Satisfaction surveys, UPMC Health Plan asks its members about the ease of contacting them. While their most recent score was remarkably high at 93.1%, they’re still looking for ways to improve. What’s next on their radar? They’re exploring video relay for hearing impaired customers.

Exceeding KPI Goals

Having engaged employees and satisfied customers is important, but so is meeting and exceeding metrics goals. Particularly in the contact center. UPMC Health Plan has managed to do all three well. Their Customer Effort and Satisfaction rates are above average, and so is their First Contact Resolution average, at more than 97%. So, what’s their secret?

“We work hard every day to achieve our FCR score of 97.2%. The team takes great pride in providing the best service possible for our members. We have a process in place that helps us ensure we are meeting our member’s needs,” says Palmerine “In 2015, we created a dedicated Member Satisfaction team that focuses on FCR and service recovery. On our survey, if the member responds ‘No’ to the FCR question, a work item is immediately routed to a Customer Satisfaction Specialist dedicated to FCR Service Recovery.  We investigate the interaction and then call the member back to offer service recovery.  We measure how quickly we call the member back and how many we have completed, with the goal of reaching back out to the member within two hours.”

The key focus of this program is to determine the cause and prevent the same issue from happening again.  The results reveal opportunities for more focused coaching, training, process, or cross-departmental collaboration. In fact,  many of the resulting improvements reach far beyond the contact center.  

Learn More About the Team

Want to meet a few members of the award-winning team at UPMC Health Plan? Watch this video tour of their contact center, or join Anne Palmerine next month at ICMI Contact Center Demo. Register here to save $200!