Look around. Some relationships are shallow, rigid, and static. We call these “acquaintances.
Other relationships are multifaceted and reciprocal, forever evolving to grow richer, deeper, and more rewarding over time. These inspiring alliances are rightfully called “partnerships” and they don’t happen often.
When a major health benefits exchange brought in TTEC to help with open enrollment almost 10 years ago, neither party could have predicted how the bond would mature into the genuine partnership it’s become today. What started as baptism by fire in 2014 grew more successful with each passing year, with TTEC processing 1.8 million healthcare coverage applications during the most recent annual open enrollment period (OEP).
Off-peak, TTEC’s multilingual associates helped current and prospective citizens all year long as they navigated healthcare coverage options available to them through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Thanks to continuous and candid communications, the partners ramped up and ramped down the staffing workforce, as demand dictated, to achieve the greatest efficiency and customer satisfaction.
While ACA marketplaces begin preparing for the annual open enrollment period as early as spring of each year, TTEC was brought in at the 11th hour, with only weeks to ramp up for the surge of incoming calls, chats, emails, and written correspondence that would bombard the contact center beginning Nov. 1. The client needed lightning speed recruitment of staff, sourced strictly from the client’s home state and not beyond, along with accelerated training to ensure prompt, accurate, compliant service — the type of interactions that customers would call a positive experience.
Language was a considerable challenge given the cultural diversity of the client’s home state, where no single racial or ethnic group makes up the majority of the population. Because TTEC had already cultivated a base of qualified multilingual contact center talent, its workforce was equipped to serve customers in 14 languages: English, Spanish, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Arabic, Laotian, Farsi, Armenian, Cambodian, Hmong, Russian, and Tagalog.
For the hectic OEP that runs November to January, TTEC tripled the existing staff to 700 associates. Off peak, when post-OEP volume eased, TTEC rightsized staffing to 350-375 associates, the optimum level to serve customers effectively without excess headcount or expense. Other wins achieved over the years as the engagement evolved into a stronger partnership:
Reduced attrition: TTEC introduced a “white glove” onboarding process that reduced associate churn, a cost-saving move for the client and a confidence-builder for employees. This extra level of handholding ensured new hires received the support they needed, had uninterrupted system access, and comprehensive training on technology so that essential tasks such as clocking in and clocking out were trouble-free.
“It’s just like in school when you have a good teacher-to-student ratio. It just makes our folks stick,” said a TTEC executive.
Proactive communications: Weekly calls with the client ensured operations ran smoothly and reinforced a proactive mindset for both partners. Approaching deadlines and potential challenges were anticipated and addressed in advance to ensure goals and objectives were met or exceeded, on time or early. Additionally, TTEC made — and continues to make — monthly on-site visits for face-to face meetings with the client, a special courtesy not included in the scope of work.
Pleased with TTEC’s streamlined processes, the client plans to adopt TTEC’s white glove onboarding methods internally for other aspects of its business. Additionally, the client plans to implement TTEC’s proposal to update technology that will improve security and compliance with the Minimum Acceptable Risk Standards for Exchanges (MARS-E), based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Looking forward, it just may be the ongoing, in-person meetings that keep this partnership getting stronger every day.
“You can feed off each other and read each other a little bit better in-person,” the TTEC executive said. “And you’re not constrained to a time limit, like you are on a Zoom call that’s scheduled for 30 minutes or an hour. We can expand on things and make the conversations go a little bit further when we spend the day together.
“I think it’s really helped the relationship, quite honestly.”