Is the search for higher metrics from every working individual in fact diluting productivity?

Question by CarinaPapa: Is the search for higher metrics from every working individual in fact diluting productivity?
I’ve worked for years in customer service/product support positions and have at least 1/2 an idea how to do the job. Now employed as an insurance adjuster, I’ve rarely had quite so many individual tasks to accomplish in as short a time as possible. Considering I’m bilingual (English/Spanish), have above average typing speed (70 wpm), and I’ve placed my on-line and desktop tools in the optimum configuration for my needs, I’m getting a bit frustrated with the continued (and now recently increased) expectation of a higher number of calls-per-hour.

Basically, I have to receive a call, review notes, examine holds, determine if they next steps require my intervention or if the customer (or other departments) need to complete further steps, search accounts, perform document reviews, use tools for product confirmation, product use in period of loss, perform identity checks, clarify conditions and terms (especially when a customer is enraged about paying a deductible – you’d be amazed how many people think insurance is a magic ‘premium only’ transaction and no matter what the cost of their insured item/service, we as the insurer are ‘wrong’ to expect them to share a partial burden in replacing items or services, even if their premiums would skyrocket), establish deductible payment parameters, shipping expectations, and answer any remaining questions – in the meantime documenting my activities, decisions, and prepping for the next call so I have NO remaining details to address prior to closing out my activity on an individual claim.

At the beginning of my training, my trainer (and supervisor) were satisfied that I was getting as few as 5 calls per hour completed. I was assured this is a normal speed for a beginning adjuster, and that with time my speed would increase to the (then) department expectation of 8 calls per hour.

Sure enough, I’ve passed the 8 calls per hour threshhold – but now, we’ve had an even higher call per hour expectation set: 10 calls per hour.

I’m not tooting my own horn when I say that I’m professional on the phone – I get above average or outstanding quality checks on performance and other metric ratings. I’m not a control freak (I don’t hang up on a customer when they meltdown – I talk them through it and give them enough information (and explanations) to (in at least 80 % of the cases) continue their claims process to deductible payment and replacement. I deal with people from many different cultures, some who have never had insurance on anything else in their entire life, and some who simply are not the sharpest knives in the drawer and bring out the educator in me (because no one should insure something without knowing exactly what their contract allows and how it applies to their claims). So it is really starting to aggravate me that in order to achieve an incentive (which is also, undoubtedly, part of the reason my supervisors and department managers are so gung-ho about it – they must in some way, receive additional compensation if the team or department achieve a certain performance metric) – I have to do ALL of the things described above in about 6 minutes PER CLAIM.

Such a cookie-cutter approach to claims (not to mention customers) is driving me straight up the wall. I’m not saying it isn’t possible (and certainly some in our department appear to be meeting this goal – but only by cutting corners or engaging in practices that ‘trick’ the metric performance measuring tools used by our employer to think more performance is being accomplished than is actually the case – and I’m not blowing smoke here, I’ve been the one catching the claims falling through the cracks in several of those situations) – but it is neither realistic or acceptable (to my mind) to expect such an ideal in dealing with the public involving something so sensitive as an insurance claim. Can you imagine? 6 minutes to do make a decision as to whether insurance coverage will be provided for a claimed product/service – and for some of these customers, it’s one of the most necessary items/services that they use in their daily lives.

I’m losing sleep now over this – even with increased exercise, better diet, and and attempt at relaxation techniques (including meditation). Part of the problem is my perfectionist nature (if I can be perfect in one way in my job, I would like to be perfect in all ways – another unrealistic (and job-fostered) expectation) – but I also realize that this is a common problem facing an American worker today. We are one of the hardest working societies in the world – yet I (like many working individuals I know) have fewer vacation days, less flexibility with my schedule, and more demands on my time at work than ever before in my life. If I miss ONE day or arrive late or leave early (no matter the reason – illness, car accident, inclimate weather, etc…) I’m no longer eligible for the incentive structure – and it takes me a month just to build 5 hours of personal t
time (which is used for both vacation days/sick time/leave time – no exceptions).

Does anyone else feel like they are losing pride/ownership in their job due to increased metric expectations? In my case, it’s getting to a point where I’m thinking about a career shift or changing departments – if such an option is available to me…

Best answer:

Answer by Thankful For Fools
I work in a similar type of job, where we claim customer service as the #1 priority, but in fact, cutting company costs clearly comes in first.

Like you, I prefer to actually resolve a request properly, as opposed to simply focusing on quickly, but in the time that is often set there’s little more to do than ensure you rush to make sure you get paid properly.

But when it comes down to it, if a company has 500 employees doing 6 calls an hour, they’d be “better off” having 300 do 10 an hour. And it sucks. But it’s simple math.

The accountant always wins.

Ever considered going into accounting?

Thankful For Fools
http://thankfulforfools.blogspot.com

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