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A Special Calling: Customer Service in the Age of the Affordable Care Act

Call center phone operators working on computers
Being a successful customer service representative who gets satisfaction from a seriously challenging job is no small trick. Especially when we’re talking about customer service representatives (CSRs) during the hectic “open enrollment” period when millions of Americans apply for healthcare insurance each year. To understand what sort of person excels at the three-month marathon of customer care, we spoke with Aerotek recruiters who work with these rare but important customer care experts.

Why customer service?

It’s a good question, according to Aerotek Recruiter Taylor Brinton, who works with the best and brightest of our CSRs. “Not everyone is cut out for this work. It can be quite challenging since they’re dealing with people and, mostly, their problems. They’re trying to find solutions to their problems, very specific problems. All day. It takes a special kind of professional to enjoy and excel at this job,” says Taylor.

It also seems that the reasons people are drawn to the profession are varied. As Taylor tells it, “We see people who have their sights set on working in a particular company, and they’ve figured out some companies only hire into the marketing, sales or product groups from those people who have spent time in their customer service group. We have CSRs who really want to work in the healthcare category. They see this as their way into working at a healthcare provider or related services business.”

Obamacare changed everything

The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, ushered in a whole new era in healthcare insurance when it was signed into law in 2010. Once a year, people can select their upcoming year’s insurance plan and for many, the process is confusing. It turns out that a very special kind of customer service representative is needed to help people navigate these tricky waters.

We asked Caelen Hiller, another one of our star CSR recruiters, what makes this job different from other customer service jobs. “Well, most people aren’t very familiar with all the options and the choices available when selecting a healthcare insurance policy. This a very complex product and so the first job for an open enrollment CSR is to get really familiar with the options people have and the decisions they need to make in picking their coverage. Secondly, the open enrollment window is pretty short, and it coincides with one of the higher stress times of year — November through January.”

What makes them special?

We asked Caelen to talk more about what makes CSRs special, especially those who not only excel within the intensity of healthcare open enrollment season but those that come back year after year. “These are people with personality. The number one character trait that sets them apart from many other people is empathy. They really do put themselves into the place of the person on the other end of the phone or website. They genuinely love to help people.” Caelen made another point, about what made the great open enrollment CSRs coming back — compensation. “Our skilled healthcare CSRs become very knowledgeable about health insurance and healthcare services. Many hold degrees and the experienced reps can be very well rewarded for their work.”

The lure of healthcare

Taylor spoke about the unique attraction of healthcare for some of our more ambitious open enrollment CSRs. “Many of our open enrollment CSRs have already decided they want to work for a large company in the healthcare industry. They’re attracted to Fortune 500 companies. They’ve done their homework and know that many of these companies like to hire from within. Once each year they get a three month shot at learning the ropes from the true frontline of a business they’re interested in. It’s a great way for them to work their way into jobs like lab and pharmacy technicians.”

If you’re up for a challenging and rewarding opportunity as a customer service representative, there’s a good chance our healthcare clients are looking for someone like you. Check out our current CSR openings and create a free account with Aerotek today.