Aegis – New York, NY
The Strategy Director partners with client and planning teams to foster creative thinking, develop innovative amplification opportunities and… Ivy Exec
“Opportunity to learn a new skill set, rewarding, but clouded by many unnecessary frustrating challenges in the process. ”
No opinion of CEO
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I worked at Aegis full-time (Less than a year)
1) Sponsorship for NYS Accident &Health insurance training and license exam. 2) Organized and efficient in getting all new hires through the pre licensing training course, registration for the New York State exam and documentation to become licensed in other states. 3) Learn the Medicare Program and work with eligible consumers to help them make informed decisions about insurance plan options. 4) Access to Sponsor‘s (United Healthcare) well organized, content and product knowledge reading materials, although a few were long and repetitive, they prepared you well for the many certification exams that had to be taken and passed. 5) No time constraints on telephone calls so quality time could be spent addressing questions / concerns and educating consumers as needed. 6) Knowledgeable supervisors and most were genuinely interested in helping, although at times there could have been more supervisors on duty. 7) Full time 40 hours paid work week with prompt bi-weekly payment and payment choices.
One of the prior reviewers said it best: there need to be more hands on training with sites and programs that are used on a daily basis and less time covering materials (or classroom exercises) that add little to no value. But having said this, here are the main reasons why new trainees become highly frustrated at Aegis. Intertwined hurdles: Training Program, Technological Infrastructure and Production Floor Training Program: 1) The training program is poorly designed and on top of that the trainers used are not professional trainers and have little to no experience in teaching and facilitation skills or training in adult education. 2) The training production computer system (simulated model) is very unreliable as on any given day there are issues whereby some trainees have access to the system and others do not. As such valuable classroom time devoted to hands-on application, although not enough, and other learning objectives are often overshadowed by system problem issues / troubleshooting or other haphazard steps along the way. 3) Adding to the mix is the absence of a written manual or training guidebook that trainees could refer to on how to do stuff (e.g., scenarios, samples, demonstrations, etc.) and navigate through the systems. In essence you have no fall back reference tool at your disposal to help clarify, reinforce and facilitate learning. As a result you enter the live production cycle (i.e., working with clients) marginally prepared. You cope by trying to remain courteous with callers, making acceptable excuses for delays, apologizing, engaging in small talk or putting callers on hold multiple times, keeping an eye on the clock, while you figure something out either on your own or with the help of a supervisor. Fortunately, it gets better over time but I am certain those earlier callers (i.e., the patient ones) did not plan to spend as much “unproductive time” on the phone as they did. Inadequate training takes its toll on callers and agents alike! Technological Infrastructure and Production Floor: 1) Multiple non-integrated systems and distinct passwords to keep organized. 2) In addition to an unreliable computer training system, how calls get routed into the Call Center is another wonder at Aegis. It’s frustrating that you get calls that drop and you are not permitted to call people back, especially when you’ve convinced the caller to act. But things that are equally frustrating are calls that are routed to the wrong area and calls that are not spread equitably among all employees. There seemed to be a disproportionate number of Customer Service type calls (which you deal with to the best of your abilities) coming into the Medicare Sales Division, as well as the use of some kind of preferential call routing system. Simply, there were many situations of “the same people getting the right kind of calls” repeatedly, resulting in sales, and other employees barely getting any calls or either getting predominantly Customer Service type calls or calls not even related to the Medicare Program. 3) Purchasing a “low quality” headset from the company, when a similar quality headset could have been purchased at a local electronic store for much less money. (Note: it’s charged to you over two pay periods and you get to keep it at the end of the campaign.) 4) Noisy production floor with poor noise absorption equipment/furniture making it very difficult and/or impossible to hear callers or having to apologize to callers asking about the noise in the background. It’s bad enough that you have to contend with a neighbor agent who speaks loudly on the phone for various reasons. But when groups of people, who are not on calls, pass time loudly talking and debating among themselves, the noise level can be deafening and is very distracting, especially if you are on a call. At times it seemed more like a neighborhood block party, even in the classroom during “quiet study times” on some occasions, than a professional work environment. Finally, here is another thing that you can expect as well: 1) Lunch Break Stresses (30 Minutes). Not enough time to accomplish necessities such as a) waiting for slow elevators to go up and down; b) seeking food and/or running personal errands on the outside as needed; c) queuing up to use the tiny bathroom because only 2 of 3 cramped stalls are functioning most times; d) gobbling lunch down, time permitting, outside or while standing in the small, unappealing on-premise break room with limited seating capacity.
Advice to Management
1) The program is a good one and serves a vital economic purpose for many people and could be made better and less stressful by investing more into training and technological infrastructure and encouraging more professionalism in the work environment. 2) Make use of professional trainers or train your staff to better prepare trainees for the production cycle with more hands on training with sites and programs that are used on a daily basis. This will help ensure confidence in knowing how to navigate through the system and place this knowledge on par with the sponsor’s written product knowledge component of the program. Further training enhancement could also be achieved by incorporating a period of time in the training program where new trainees shadow experienced agents (as there are many returning agents in each training cycle) for a few days. And if for whatever reasons you are unable to do the above, at the very least, there should be a written training manual / guidebook (uniformly presented) for trainees to refer to as needed to reinforce learning objectives. This would be helpful overall and especially in those situations where trainees may not have been able to engage in pre-production calls / exercises, or not enough of them, due to system issues and/or other matters. The strategic objective is to facilitate learning and build confidence prior to the production cycle, better ensuring a positive outcome for everyone! 3) Get to the bottom of the call routing technological issues causing calls to be misdirected and/or un-equitably routed and make the job more productive for everyone. Supervisors should not have to spend time reprimanding employees on things beyond their control. (For example, lecturing people after every 5th call that does not result in a sale, when the prior 4 calls were all Customer Service type calls that should never have been routed to the area!) 4) Yes, headsets are essential to the job but can they not be provided either at no charge or at a better price point, assuming that the objective of selling them is to ensure that everyone is set and ready to go with the same equipment? Based on volume purchase alone, I would think that Aegis would be in a position to negotiate a better unit price with its supplier and pass the savings on to employees. 5) Consider extending the lunch break by 15 minutes to 45 minutes, this would help reduce some of the lunch break stresses regardless of cause and controlling factors.