Creating a league of extraordinary reps

Meet Marvin

Marvin is the not-so-mild mannered alter ego of one of our real-life account reps. Many of our doctors may recognize Marvin from the recent mailers we’ve been sending out to introduce him and the other superheroes we’ve added to our team of reps.

Marvin is service personified. He represents the months of work we’ve dedicated to completely transforming our customer service department from an inbound, reactive call center to a proactive league of extraordinary account reps, focused and driven by service.

It’s been a huge undertaking for us, and we’ve still got a ways to go (our heroes haven’t mastered all of their powers yet), but I thought before we announced our next value, this would be a perfect opportunity to share what we’ve been up to and to highlight just one way we’ve been injecting our first core value into one of the most important parts of our company.

Holy crappy service, Marvin!

Several months ago, we had one of the best realizations we’ve ever had: our customer service sucked. It hadn’t always sucked, but it sucked then. Phone calls were going unanswered. Messages weren’t being returned. And our doctors were having a harder time than they should have been.

Our initial response to this realization was MORE. More reps, more managers, more shifts, more phone lines, more computers, more technology, more, more, more. That helped for a little while, but just a little while.

The problem was in our customer service model. Something like a tier-based system, we had “specialists” dedicated to handling various parts of a doctor’s account: If you needed some shipping supplies, you’d call rep A; needed to check on a case, you’d call rep B; had some technical questions, you’d call rep C. The result for our doctors wasn’t a pleasant one. Callers would get bounced around and end up disgruntled, thinking the right hand didn’t know squat about the left. The model was broken, and what had only kind of worked with 1,000 doctors wasn’t scaling well at 10,000. Adding more of what wasn’t working wasn’t the solution.

After our legs stopped swinging from that initial knee jerk, we came up with a better response: CHANGE.

We looked back in our short history for the time we had serviced our doctors the best. It didn’t take long to find it; all the stats and feedback pointing to it made it easy to spot once we were willing to look.

It turns out, believe it or not, we delivered our best customer service when we had a single, solitary rep. Just one. She had no fancy technology, just a notepad for tracking stuff. When doctors called, they could easily reach her. She had no elevated tier to defer to; she had to learn everything so she could answer anything. We had considerably fewer doctors back then, numbers she could manage on her own and numbers that allowed her to forge lasting relationships, many of which continue today, years later. She was passionate about service, and she did whatever it took to make sure her doctors were happy.

She was our first superhero, the prototype. And if we were really going to make a change that worked, we’d need to get her back in a cape.

Splicing Marvin with the prototypical genome

Her name is Carrie. She used to be our one and only account rep, and now she’s back leading the project determined to mutate Marvin into a service-driven hero. Taking her successful actions from the past and scaling them up to work with more reps and more doctors, we’ve been making changes bit by bit. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Doctors have dedicated reps.
    There’s no more bouncing around. Just as it was with doctors who depended on Carrie, doctors now have just one person they can call, one person they can know by name, one person they can depend on for anything and everything.

  • Reps have dedicated teams for support.
    Carrie’s support team was just me, but she had one nonetheless. Now, once again, if a doctor’s rep is unavailable for any reason, a team member familiar with his or her account can step in and assist if needed.

  • Reps have fewer doctors.
    We’ve reduced the number of doctors per rep by nearly 80%, down to the range Carrie was handling. Reps are now free enough to give their doctors more time and attention.

  • Reps work when their doctors work.
    Back when Carrie was a rep, most of our doctors were based in Texas, so she was working when they were. With doctors now scattered across the US, having reps just work 9 – 5 CST doesn’t cut it. Reps are assigned doctors by time zone and they work 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (at least) for whatever time zone their doctors are working in.

  • Reps are trained better. 
    Carrie had been with ClearCorrect from the beginning. She had seen every version of our products and every iteration of our processes. That’s a lot of knowledge. New reps now receive the most comprehensive internal training we’ve ever had on our products or our processes. They may not be able to answer every question just yet, but we’re working on it.

  • Reps live and breathe service.
    Carrie was driven by a pure passion to serve. It’s the same for our reps now. They’re there to help their doctors, not push for sales. They’re free to take as much time as they need and do just about anything to ensure their doctors are happy and satisfied with our products.

So far, the changes are working well and the feedback from our doctors is positive. Carrie won’t be hanging up her cape just yet as there’s a bit more to do, but now Marvin and the other superheroes on our team are flying in the right direction, and they’re gaining speed.

We’ve learned a lot about what it really means to be service-driven over the course of this project, and we expect to learn quite a bit more. I hope this inside look at one way we've approached being service-driven has been helpful or at least interesting.

Feel free to share your thoughts, questions, or even your own service-driven experiences with us in the comments.

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