Angie Cole: Leading with Service
How long have you worked in long-term care?
I’ve been in the long-term care industry for four years and in healthcare for 10. But my 25 years of customer service and support experience has allowed me to be successful in what I do in my current role.
What are you most passionate about in your role?
There are so many things. First, it’s being part of the 6,000 people who work for this company nationwide and dedicate themselves every day to being a solution provider – and not just a pharmacy – to our clients. Second, it’s about meeting customer needs, whether that involves pre-admission pricing, questions after discharge, or something else. The pharmacy services we provide are only part of the PharMerica equation; we are true partners in care.
Describe PharMerica today and the company’s culture.
I think we truly set ourselves apart as a leader and trusted resource. There is no greater evidence of that than our ability to provide immediate COVID-19 vaccination access as soon as the vaccines became available. This has continued throughout the pandemic and into today with a new focus on boosters.
Beyond the current crisis, our broad knowledge and depth and breadth of resources – unparalleled in the marketplace – enable us to deliver the highest level of programs and services, tailored to the needs of each facility – whether it’s a nursing home, assisted living community, continuing care retirement community, or a facility for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
PharMerica also has a strong, proud culture of engagement and advocacy. Even though we’re a big company, employees are like a family. And we treat our customers like family as well, placing their needs first. For example, our pharmacists work tirelessly to get medications to patients even when their facility or homes have been damaged by a storm or other natural disaster. There have even been instances where they had to deliver the medications themselves after hours. It’s really all about the patients.
Can you talk about your team and what you’d like people to know about them.
The best way I can describe my team is that they are “small but mighty.” Each person is focused on the services we provide to ensure both our internal and external customers receive the best and most prompt attention in every interaction they have with us. We want to make sure our customers are satisfied, and we want them to be confident that when they contact PharMerica, they’ll get what they need every single time.
Describe what customer service excellence is
For me, customer service excellence is deep and heartfelt. The way I see it, customer service isn’t a department; it’s an attitude. And when you can have a consistent focus on providing a superior customer experience from the top down, it creates a culture where everyone is customer-centric. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re all here for.
We get a large volume of calls every day. How do you manage them all?
That’s where communication is key. We can’t have silos when it comes to our customers’ pain points. We have to communicate consistently about when and how calls come in. This helps managers understand how many calls they are missing and when. They then can address this with staffing and scheduling changes. Some factors – such as a power outages – may be beyond our control, but we want to understand what’s driving call overflow and share that data to optimize our customers’ ability to reach the pharmacy and the team members they need to speak with.
What were the biggest challenges and successes during COVID-19?
The flexibility of the team really shined. We had to pivot on so many different levels, but because we are trained to handle crises like one or more pharmacies going down because of a hurricane or other weather event, we are nimble. So when it came to COVID and it was time to move off site, we were ready. We just wanted to make sure team members had all the tools and resources they needed to work from home effectively and comfortably. We were one of the first contact centers to request and use remote agent capability so Customer Service Representatives could answer the phone away from the business. That was new for us; this had always been done on site. But with that remote agent capability, our customers could be serviced 24/7 during COVID. Our comprehensive pharmacy services continued without interruption.
How do we bring our local expertise into the heart of each community?
Even though we are national, our pharmacies and all employees are local and involved in their communities – helping out with charitable events, volunteering, participating in school events, and so on. They have a vested interest in where they live, and they work hard to help our customers by understanding local regulations to minimize risks while addressing every detail of the unique challenges of the area. There’s more of an “I know what you’re going through” than any other provider can claim. It goes beyond understanding and empathy; we are partners. When our clients succeed and flourish, so do we.