Seniors Helping Seniors Is Proving to Be Effective

By Claudia Timbo

Typically, the best person to go to when seeking help is someone who has been there before. At Corporate Call Center (CCC), we have applied this notion to our hiring practices. Our business model includes hiring and training retired executives and senior citizens to guide other seniors through today’s increasingly complex health insurance landscape. This “seniors helping seniors” strategy has generated extraordinary success.

The model is resonating with a growing number of companies requiring our services. In today’s market, companies are shifting from in-house customer service operations to outsourced providers in order to improve customer support, reduce costs, leverage advanced technologies, and connect with customers across a variety of mediums.

Another big factor driving demand is the rapidly growing senior population, which according to the U.S. Census Bureau will double to 70 million over the next twenty years. Baby boomers, representing 28 percent of the U.S. population, are entering retirement age. These numbers are spurring an exceptionally high demand for services directed at helping seniors. For instance, an increasingly higher number of seniors will be enrolling in and trying to grasp the ever more complicated Medicare Part D prescription drug benefits and Medicare Advantage plans. Assisting seniors with these tasks requires highly skilled and specialized customer service representatives. On this front, our older professional staff is unmatched.

Many of our senior employees are from high-level positions in the insurance, healthcare, and financial industries. Their experiences and our ongoing training program enable them to effectively communicate and address the needs of senior callers.

In addition to their experiences and professional expertise, older professionals are capable of connecting with senior callers on a more personal level. Inherently aware of problems facing seniors, they are able to engage in more positive and successful communications. Callers are naturally more comfortable speaking with representatives they know have backgrounds and experiences similar to their own. They can sense that they are speaking to peers who empathize with them and feel passionate about helping them.

Working in our call center is a positive experience, both personally and economically, for older professionals. Seniors often become disappointed with retired life. Their jobs with us are rewarding and provide them with a sense of purpose while helping others. This also enables them to earn extra money – an opportunity that holds extra appeal during a downturn in the economy.

Furthermore, our flexible scheduling appeals to older professionals who do not necessarily want to work forty hours a week or more than twenty-six weeks a year. Since we are open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week, employees can choose from a variety of shifts. They have time to partake in hobbies and interests, and many like to travel in the off-months.

We currently employ over 500 seniors during the open enrollment season from September 1 – March 31. At any given time, seniors account for over 60 percent of our staff.

Hiring older professionals means enlisting employees who are excited to learn and bring positive attitudes to their work. Our extremely low turnover rate is proof of their reliability and dedication. Seniors also bring a wealth of professional and life experiences, which significantly increases the quality and efficiency of their services.

Our unique approach to customer service creates a winning scenario for all involved. The senior staff’s ability to provide superior service satisfies callers and clients alike and has played a significant role in our success. In turn, we provide meaningful employment to hundreds of seniors who eagerly use their skills and knowledge to assist their peers, who are then better able to make critical decisions that may affect their health and financial well-being.

Claudia Timbo is founder and CEO of Corporate Call Center, a teleservices and call center company specializing in providing highly trained, licensed, and credentialed customer service representatives for the insurance and healthcare markets.

[From the August/September 2009 issue of AnswerStat magazine]