Work is taxing. After all, it’s called work for a reason. But some jobs can be more stressful than others.
For the Ally employees working at our call center in Jacksonville, Florida, the day-to-day responsibilities of the job can be challenging. They often have to have difficult conversations with customers about their money to help develop a plan to get their payments on track and accounts current.
These tough talks are made easier when a calm, friendly voice answers the phone. Typically, good things follow.
“I was slightly nervous at the idea of working in the call center. . . [but] as soon as I had my interview, I knew this was the right decision,” says Lisaed Bonilla-Rodriguez, a former member of the United States Air Force and a new mom. “Despite the fast pace of the call center environment, the atmosphere remained friendly and welcoming . . . The people who work here create a culture of comfort and reliability.”
So how do our employees bring that same calmness to customer calls?
Be an ally
While in the Air Force, Bonilla-Rodriguez knew her fellow airmen were there for her. But she knew that wouldn’t necessarily be the case after her transition to civilian life.
Although it’s different from her experience in the military, Bonilla-Rodriguez discovered a similar level of camaraderie at the call center. Everyone’s responsibility, regardless of job title, is to treat each other as an ally—to be comfortable around each other, to have fun, and to talk to each other as friends.
“This makes it easier to talk to customers who might not be in the best situations and build relationships with them, so at the end of the day, they’re satisfied,” Bonilla-Rodriguez explains.
Recently, Bonilla-Rodriguez discovered this mindset of being an ally was particularly helpful when defusing a tense situation with a customer. “She was mad and crying, but we talked through it, and by the end of the call, we had a game plan on how to get the account current,” says Bonilla-Rodriguez. “I stayed on the line and didn’t leave her hanging.”
Practice the ‘do it right’ philosophy
After working for six years for the government of Ecuador, Edison Bustos moved with his family to the United States to follow his dream of working for a financial institution.
It was particularly important to Bustos that his own values were reflected where he works. “The first thing that caught my attention was Ally’s commitment to ‘do it right,’” Bustos says. “I identified with it because it’s similar to what I learned from my own family.”
Bustos honors his pledge to “do it right” in every customer interaction. “The most important thing we do is view each call as a unique situation,” he says. “There are standards we must follow, but we also understand that every situation is different. Not everyone is experiencing the same thing.”
Ally’s “do it right” culture means that Bustos never just reacts to a customer. “Reacting would be giving the same answer to every single problem,” he explains. Instead, he listens, gathers information, and responds with the best option for the customer. “With every sentence, we are completely honest and straightforward while trying to help,” says Bustos.
As a quad leader at the Jacksonville call center, Ryan Lewis is focused on helping his team execute each customer interaction with excellence. To do this, the former salesperson shares every tool in his personal arsenal to help ensure his teammates’ calls go smoothly.
“My first manager was so helpful and always available to assist me,” Lewis says. “She gave me a spreadsheet that details virtually every situation I could ever encounter. To this day, I still refer to it, and I’ve shared it with the four members of my quad.”
Lewis also sends out a strategy document each morning and keeps his instant messenger app open on his computer in case someone needs help at a moment’s notice.
And when it comes to particularly tough calls, Lewis doesn’t shy away or leave his teammates hanging. Instead, he’ll jump right on the line. “If a teammate is struggling, I can walk over and help them out by taking the call.”
There is one tool Lewis’s manager uses that he hasn’t yet: baked goods brought from home. “She goes above and beyond to make work life better,” he says with a chuckle.
Prior to coming to Ally, Collin Provenza worked in the hospitality industry and had loads of customer interactions. But they occurred in person, which presents a very different dynamic from phone interactions.
Now an employee at the Jacksonville call center, Provenza finds talking to customers over the phone has its advantages. He feels he can be more forthcoming, and in turn, the customers are more open and agreeable with him.
That openness starts with and is supported by Provenza’s manager, who is, “really good about listening, assessing my phone calls, and providing specific feedback on how to approach something a better way,” Provenza says.
“She gives me feedback and suggestions on what to say and how to say it, which makes it easier to do the job,” he says, explaining that his manager’s advice has helped him maintain his friendly tone and demeanor and not say something out of place, keeping the customer confident and calm for the duration of the call.
Phone conversations about finances can sometimes be stressful for both customers and financial institution employees alike. But a calm, friendly, and dependable work environment promotes phone conversations that are open and focused on reaching the best solutions. Talk about a mutual benefit.
Learn more about the values that guide our employees.