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More Than Just a Call Center

We have millions of reasons to be incredibly proud of our health coaches and our call center in Indianapolis. Earlier this week, they gave us even more: we were honored as runner-up for the Best Medium Contact Center by the International Customer Management Institute, and our very own Mike Granato was awarded Best Contact Center Agent.

Congratulations, Mike and our entire team in Indy!

The awards, to recognize innovation and leadership within the call center industry, were presented at the annual ICMI Global Contact Center Awards party in Orlando during the organization’s annual meeting. A “medium contact center” is defined as having between 75 and 150 agents. The criteria for Best Contact Center Agent included a commitment to improving the customer experience as well as demonstrating a positive influence on the attitudes of fellow employees.

While the term “call center” usually conjures up negative images: endless rows of cubicles, sullen employees answering calls, unhappy customers complaining about a cable bill or cell phone contract, our call center is much different. All of our coaches have an undergraduate degree in a health science and 30 percent have graduate degrees. They receive calls, but they also make outbound calls to eligible program participants. Most of all, the coaches are focused on taking a holistic approach to helping improve every part of a person’s life.

In other words, it’s the kind of call center where everyone hopes to talk to their callers again soon. There are no good cop-bad cop routines by the employees and their manager. Typically, callers don’t get angry and demand to speak to a manager.

Paul Turner, Vice President of Health Coaching

Paul Turner, Vice President of Health Coaching at WebMD Health Services, oversees our contact center, which has conducted more than 3.3 million coaching sessions, (giving us all those reasons to be proud). He points out that unlike most call centers, ours generates revenue—about 20 percent of our overall revenue in addition to contributing to the overall ROI we have promised back to our customers.

He says there is no substitute for the personalized, one-on-one attention of a health coach to motivate participants to stick to their goals.

“Although all of our products have shown to be effective, ultimately our clients who have felt the living and breathing aspect of the coaching organization believe it has been most impactful,” Turner says. “The person-to-person connection we create cannot be matched or replaced by any technology .”

The statistics prove his point. The goal for WebMD Health Services’ Weight Management Coaching program is for 20 percent of participants to lose 5 percent or more of their body weight; we’ve seen 25 percent of participants achieve that goal.1 We’ve also exceeded our goal for our Tobacco Cessation Coaching program, where 54 percent of participants have quit using tobacco or tobacco products, slightly more than the target of 50 percent.2

As successful as our call center has been, Mike Granato was our No. 1 ranked health coach for 2017. His supervisor, Jessica Pfeil, provided some data to support his nomination for the Best Contact Center Agent award. Of all the coaches in our call center, he had the highest productivity average (96.3 percent) and he ranked fifth in the call center for quality, with a score of 95.3 percent out of 100.

Mike Granato, Health Coach

“He has established a new threshold in productivity and quality, and demonstrates to his peers that you can be successful in both quality and productivity if you remain focused,” Jessica wrote.

We profiled Mike here on the blog last summer, when he shared his love for his son, pro wrestling and double-stuffed Oreos.

For Mike’s nomination, we also shared some user testimonials about him as well as a case study example. There were so many endorsements and messages of gratitude from the program participants he has worked with in his two years with WebMD. The adjectives that we hear used most often to describe him are upbeat, encouraging and knowledgeable.

“Mike is a very positive individual. He makes conversation very comfortable and I appreciate this kind support in helping me remain motivated,” one participant said. Another commented: “My coaching session with Mike was great. I learned things I have not learned before—principles that I can implement right away.”

Mike worked with one particular participant last year who had already lost 45 pounds the previous year while working with another coach. She lost another 20 pounds in 2017 and spoke seven times with Mike, who encouraged her to apply for the leadership program at Weight Watchers, which accepted her for a six-week training course.

Mike currently holds three heath coaching certifications and has his degree in Communication and Culture from Indiana University. It is important to Mike that he share accurate and timely information with participants. Last year, he took an exam for a board-certified health coach, which only one other coach out of more than 100 in the entire call center was selected to complete.

Congrats again, Mike, and the entire call center team. You deserve it!

Related articles:

  1. Press Release: “ICMI Announces the Winners of the 2018 ICMI Global Contact Center Awards.”
  2. Blog post: “Does Mike Ice Skate? Only Forward…”

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