Posted by Sam George
Richard Branson recently took to his blog to celebrate the anniversary of Virgin Health Bank’s first successful stem cell transplant - recalling how the procedure changed the lives of Sandra and Chukwudelue Okoli and their four children. The eldest two children of the Okoli family had the sickle cell disease. Branson’s blog reveals the emotional but incredible story of how Virgin Health’s Community Banking Programme helped cure the children through stem cell transplantation. What comes out shining through it all, is the spirit of the Okolis’ and the courage, faith and love that held them together during their times of trial.
Virgin Health bank was established in 2007, to offer parents in the UK the opportunity to have their babies’ stem cells collected at birth and cryogenically stored. At the heart of this programme lies a specialist group of HGS advisors, who provide end-to-end customer care for families who have signed up for cord blood storage.
HGS supports all applicant families through a five stage process which starts with helping parents make a choice between a ‘private’ or ‘community’ deposit, processing paper work and arranging for dispatch of the stem cell collection kit. HGS agents also organise for the stem cell sample to be transported to the lab for testing, within 24 hours of collection. The test results are then send to the family and HGS issues a ‘certificate of storage. When need arises, our agents will liaise with the family and medical professionals for safe retrieval and transport of the stored samples.
“But often it is a lot more than that,’ according to Lemmy Chibuye, Contact Centre Manager for HGS’ Virgin Health Bank campaign, “We see the customer through the entire journey – from decision making, through to final repatriation. And most often, it is an emotionally charged one, for the families involved and for our advisors, who hand hold them through each stage.”
It is important for a service of this nature to be personal and one-to-one, as the relationship with a dedicated agent goes beyond a single call, lasting for several months. And it is a relationship based on clarity and trust – stem cell procedures being a comparatively new branch of science, HGS advisors have to tread that very careful path of giving clear advice based on known medical facts rather than speculation. Consequently, the advisors chosen to run this unique service go through a rigorous induction process and have to pass examinations mandated by the Human Tissue Authority.
Virgin Health Bank is a great example of how customer service has evolved to support complex campaigns which require customer service personnel with deep subject matter expertise and the emotional intelligence to provide care and advice, unclouded by emotional bias. But, it is a wonderful and rewarding process, at the end of day. “We were by the side of Okoli family during their difficult time and it was a great moment of celebration for us when we received news that their children were cured through this life-changing programme.”
HGS’ service for Virgin Health Bank is evidence of a contact centre’s ability to manage even the most intimate of customer relationships. As Lemmy sums up, “Anyone who thinks contact centres provide a cold or impersonal service should visit our team and take a look at the baby pictures on our walls”....