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Aug. 20, 2021

Denise Jefferson Hover image

The pandemic changed a lot of the health care industry. Through it all, my retail team shifted its focus to meet the needs of our customers. Here’s what I’ve learned leading this team: 

1. Pivot and find solutions 

The retail and mobile teams meet face-to-face in the community with customers and members on a regular basis. At the start of the pandemic, this team shifted to working at home as telemarketers and expanded our existing telemarketing team. We had to get creative. 

We forwarded their phones to one main line so everyone was answering calls. If a customer called our Greenville retail store, we could make sure the call was routed to a Greenville representative. This allowed our team to keep in touch with the members they typically see. We were able to maintain that personal touch that sets us apart.

I know my face-to-face team has a better understanding now of how difficult it can be to have just the telephone for communicating with members. There is so much respect for what our telemarketing team does. My team members had to dig deep into their knowledge and learn new skills to handle telephone communication versus the face-to-face meetings they were used to. 

2. Embrace new technologies 

At first, we thought it would just be a short period of time before we would go back to face-to-face meetings. We realized we weren’t going to be back as soon as we thought, so we started doing virtual meetings with members. Then we were able to do virtual seminars and virtual classes. A lot of people in South Carolina didn’t realize we had retail stores, but through this, we were able to connect with people across the state. We were able to meet with individuals who were homebound for example. 

3. Allow for personal growth 

What we know now is we can survive anything. We learned there are so many ways to do our jobs. We had to think outside the box and in ways we weren’t accustomed to. 

When I'm at home, I'm a wife and I'm a mother. When I'm at work, I'm the director of marketing. But I was at home being the wife and the mother and a director. I had to find the flexibility to manage and balance all of that. Through it all, I learned a lot about myself and my team. 

4. Be prepared 

Now we know we need to be prepared for whatever comes our way. If something like this happens again, our team needs to be ready to shift from face-to-face to telephonic or virtual communication. We know our team needs to be accountable. I’m so used to just walking in the stores to see my team and knowing what we’re working with, but we had to convert that accountability. Now we have processes in place to be prepared so each team member is accountable. 

5. Prioritize self-care 

We now better understand the importance of mental health care. The pandemic was hard for a lot of people. We know to take better care of ourselves and to prioritize self-care. Now we spend more time focused on team bonding and getting to know one another. During the pandemic, we started a team huddle every day. We aren’t able to keep this same format now because of the nature of the retail and mobile team’s work, but I do intend to keep a focus on fun interactions where we can. 

Throughout the pandemic, we have learned a lot about our team, our leadership and South Carolinians. I’m excited for our stores to open and our mobile team to hit the road serving our members. We are ready to get back into our communities. Come out and see us! 

Denise Jefferson, director of direct marketing and retail strategies, has worked at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina for 24 years. She oversees a team of 40 people. 

Denise Jefferson, director of direct marketing and retail strategies. 

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Denise Jefferson with BlueCross RV and retail store Hover image
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