Christmas is for Kids

October 28

In December, my department will be hosting a fundraiser called “Christmas is for Kids” which will help the children of the Atlanta Cancer Center. When I heard about the event, I quickly went around and found out who was in charge of it and offered to help. We came up with some posters to match the T-shirts that had been selected from the drawing for designs. Aflac allows children from 6 years old and older to submit their ideas for the T-shirts. I helped my coworker Denise put together a poster, and organized the actual fundraiser: a raffle where you can win a handful of cool items like a 60” TV, an iPad, or even just paid time off and the tickets were 1 for $5, 3 for $10, or 8 for $20. Personally, I have no idea why Aflac chose those prices and those gifts (I spent $20, and have 8 chances to win an iPad when I’m the only person from my department who bought any, I imagine the other departments are very similar), but the fundraiser ends on December 6th, and we are already at well over $500 raised just out of our building (Paul S. Amos building, one of 5 in Columbus). I have posted the fliers in all of the break rooms, restrooms, the cafeteria, outside each building division (A-F), and have them plastered all over my cubicle. I want to meet with the header of fundraising at the Aflac Children’s Cancer Center of Atlanta and see how else I can help them with things like this.

Reason Codes and PR

October 24

This week, I have been working with a program called TPX with Aflac. I was in charge of updating and reviewing the Reason Codes for Aflac. These codes are the “reasons” why people may be declined for their applications or policies. This job has been eye-opening for me, because I had the opportunity to see over 1,000 different reasons why applications and policies were declined. I have kept a small log on different post-its at my desk that were some of the more common reasons or grouping. I worked on updating them so that they matched the company’s national records, and had to review the numbers on each reason. I have spent the last few weeks working on an enrollment/setup survey for new customers to Aflac, and working with these reason codes gave me an idea. My goal now is to add an additional survey that matches this new demographic’s concerns:

I want to do a survey to ask people who currently have Aflac how their experience is.

Part of me knows that the majority of the responses will be like my dad’s was when he got in his accident: nothing but praise. But I really want to see how people feel when their claim is declined. I want to see the responses we get when we ask people who are declined for a policy what they think. I think that a big step in understanding how Aflac’s customers (not just new customers, but active ones too) feel about our products is to hold surveys for them annually. One of the recommendations I made for Underwriting (read my last post) was to add a survey. Not for metrics, but for understanding. Our NNU (New Business, New Account Setup, and Underwriting) survey is directed at new customers and we use it to track how the new customers feel and keep track of our numbers. For Underwriting specifically, my recommendation was to add a survey so that they could see the common frustrations that customers had. This would give their department a new view of the way customers see the claim process. Naturally, the department should not use the survey for metrics since most of the responses Underwriting gets will be negative because they are the ones who review the application when something is wrong with it and are the ones who actually choose “accept” or “decline”. However, I think it would be good for them to have a survey for the chance to find that one person who says “I wish you would do this” and then maybe, the department will have the opportunity to truly improve their processes to increase customer satisfaction.

Underwriting: The Last Step Impression

October 22

This week has been pretty busy! I was given complete control over our EFM (Enterprise Feedback Management) site, and people keep asking me for survey responses and I was actually involved in a meeting where I was asked which areas could have the largest impact on customer perception of our enrollment process!

I was asked to tag team with our underwriting department to find a way to increase their “maturity”, or the level at which their department operates. I am focusing now on improving their claims site. My big move on this one has been an FAQ for Underwriting. Because Underwriting is the last step before an application is decided, I added a “Next Step” option to their return emails. This recommendation for their department gives them the potential to seriously increase customer ratings because if they do not get the policy or claim that they wanted, this automatic response offers suggestions of other claims or policies similar to the one they applied for. I got an award of recognition for my work on this project this week, and if my idea works the way I think it will, it will greatly increase our survey scores.

The way my idea works: When a customer applies for a policy or claim and it reaches underwriting for some reason, they receive and email from the team explaining that their policy/claim was denied. My idea adds a ‘signature’ to each email when it is declined that has FAQ’s with common questions asked about why it might have been declined. Beneath that, there is an option to show similar requests made, so even when someone does not get what they want, they can be confident that they still have options.

An Innovative Tool

October 15

My managers are struggling hard at work because the team I am interning for is a support group. What they are struggling with is the fact that anytime another department has an issue that they want us to work on, there is a routine. They send someone to our department to ask us to work on it. The problem with this is that the other departments do not typically go through my managers. Because of this, our personal site has a collection of assignments that are inserted by my team members and the managers don’t get a chance to approve or oversee the assignments unless they religiously check the dashboard collection. My managers have tasked me with identifying a way to get around this problem without costing us anything in time or efficiency.

Even though this is not technically PR, it is a great example of corporate communications as I am working to actively better the efficiency of everything in our corporate work place. My idea was a formal and official request form to be found on our department’s SharePoint site. This addition to the site needed proper testing and as such I have been working all week on what fields are necessary and what needs to happen behind the scenes. My final product looked a little like this:

Whenever someone submits the form, they get an email receipt with their name, the date of submission, the title and description of the request, and the ID number for the request.

Then, when my manager sees the request and assigns it to someone on our team, the team member gets an email saying they have been assigned a new item.

When the item is complete, an email goes to my managers and the person who submitted the request, letting them know that their request (by title and ID number) has been completed, and who it was completed by.

I really believe that this is going to increase the efficiency of my team and give greater power and interaction between the departments. I think that if this form works as well as I want it to, we will have a more fluid process of requesting aid, and more will get done.

Another Day, Another Problem

October 9

One of my BAU duties at Aflac is to maintain and oversee the surveys for our Enterprise Feedback Management site. These surveys contain everything from Aflac’s customers on whether or not they like the system or if they had problems with it. Sometimes the agents selling Aflac are not directly associated with us and so they do not give the customer the correct level of attention or help. Sometimes the customer has a problem with the online systems, like their invoice not printing or them not being comfortable with IE9 being the only browser to run the business objects site.

However, I like having the opportunity to see these issues because I am working to compile a list of root causes for our department on what customers are having problems with. I am calling them the “impact areas” and I am basing an entire page on our department’s intranet site on them.

I broke all of the issues into 9 categories (not counting “Not Yet Evaluated”, which only applies to issues indicated without a comment to identify them). These impact area categories will help us to determine where we can improve. Below this graph on the site, I have included a “Trends and Insights” box where I describe the changes month to month, and the changes year to year. This is my first major step into making this site available to other departments. After I have the page completely up and running, I plan to find a way to make it “printer friendly” and I will submit it to my manager as a monthly report on our data. If my manager likes the way I do it, we might be able to use SharePoint in a way that helps eliminate the pesky formatting of PowerPoint for our paper-only presentations. Or if they want to keep PowerPoint, they can take the charts directly from my page as a source. Either way, I hope my page helps our department to identify with and relate to our customers.

First Step into Corporate America

October 2

Over the summer and this fall I have been blessed with the opportunity to work for and with Aflac. I am very excited because even though I will not be dealing with the Public Relations traditional aspect with Aflac, I will be using what I learn at CSU and through my classes even now to better the workplace. One of the ways that my studies in PR will help me is because I am in charge of the surveys that come back to Aflac from customers who try to enroll with Aflac’s insurance policies. While many of the attempts result in a pleasant outcome, some of them do not. My job right now with Aflac is to take all of the survey responses and compile a web page within their intranet that displays all of them in an easy-to-read format. In this way, I have a feeling that I will be able to help Aflac improve in the eyes of the public. Even though Aflac has a 92% name recognition in America, only 40% understand what Aflac actually does (supplemental insurance). My goal through working here is to see why that might be, and hopefully use my position in a way that shows me a tangible improvement.

While working at Aflac, my main goal is to take the web page I will be putting together for the data from the surveys for Executive Feedback Management and make it a company-wide effort. I have already created a layout for the page that will present my department’s information in 4 major ways: Showing the overall percentages of satisfaction, breaking down the factors that cause discontent among their customers, providing a bracket for trends and insights into each month’s responses, and creating an overlap that allows them to compare to previous months and years. By doing this, I hope that I can give Aflac the best chance of improving its efforts through the use of their customers’ opinions.

Campaign Class

This semester, I am taking a class with Professor McCollough, Public Relations Campaigns. I am really excited about this class, because as he says, “The only way to learn about a campaign is to do one.” I can’t wait to start working on a real, community project campaign. I feel like this class is going to give me exactly the insight I need to utilize PR in whatever I do. My group is working with Steeplechase at Callaway, and I already have a feeling it’s going to be great. Our contact is amazing and the work we are getting done is really coming along nicely! We will be working on the College Corner, which is an event at Steeplechase directly targeting the college demographic. The indirect effects of College Corner will be to (hopefully) drastically increase collegiate awareness of the event in general, as we plan to advertise a lot on campus and at other CSU events. Here’s to a new semester!