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Telephone Development and Customer Service Skills

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1 Telephone Development and Customer Service Skills
VBA Overview Compensation Service Training Staff June 2012 Telephone Development and Customer Service Skills

2 Lesson Objectives List the evidence suitable for telephone development
List the telephone development requirements Identify 38 CFR 3.217(b) procedures when conducting a telephone contact Identify procedures for special circumstances that could develop during a telephone contact Identify the procedures to complete VA Form , Report of General Information (Report of Contact) after receiving evidence from a telephone contact Identify the purpose of VA Form , Authorization to Disclose Personal Information to a Third Party Identify the characteristics of VA customers Differentiate the aspects of good communication skills Identify strategies of effective customer service 2

3 References 38 CFR 3.159(e) VA's duty to assist claimants in obtaining evidence 38 CFR 3.217(b) Submission of statements or information affecting entitlement to benefits M21-1MR I.1.C.6.c Requirement to Follow Up on Requests for Non-Federal Records by Telephone M21-1MR I.1.C.6.e Using the Telephone, Fax, or to Obtain Evidence From the Claimant M21-1MR, II.2.2 Providing Information to a Third Party M21-1MR II.3 Telephone Interviews M21-1MR, III, iii.1.B.2.c Using , Fax, and Telephone M21-1MR, III.iii.1.B.2.d Documenting Information Received by Telephone M21-1MR, III.iii.1.B.2.e Handling Information Received by Telephone That May Adversely Affect Benefits M21-1MR III.iii.2.I.59.e Contacting the Claimant M21-1MR III.iii.2.K.79.a Contacting State Adjutants General Offices FL Final Rule: Notice and Assistance Requirements and Technical Correction FL 10-49, VA Form Authorization to Disclose Personal Information to a Third Party FL 12-04, Revised Procedures for Telephone Contact and Development 3

4 Suitable Evidence Evidence suitable for telephone development includes: Social Security numbers of dependents Mailing address(es) Direct deposit information Date(s) of birth Reserve or National Guard unit information Information concerning retired, severance, or readjustment pay 4

5 Telephone Development Requirements
When following up on requests for non-federal records, you must make one attempt to contact the records custodian by telephone. If the records custodian cannot be reached by telephone on the first attempt: Make no further attempts to contact the custodian by telephone Document the attempted telephone call in MAP-D Send the custodian a follow-up letter to request the records 5

6 Fax Records Ask the custodians of the records to fax the records to the designated RO fax number. (Note: The fax machine must be located in a secure, nonpublic location because the faxed records may contain personally identifiable information.) 6

7 Follow-Up When Service Records are Unavailable
Contact the claimant by telephone after the VSCM or designee signs the formal finding of record unavailability. Advise the claimant: About the lack of a response from the records custodian(s) Of the requirement that he/she submit any relevant documents in his/her possession That a decision will be made based on the evidence of record if the requested evidence is not received with ten days from the date notice is given 7

8 Fast Letter 12-04 Upon expiration of a suspense date, stations should attempt telephone contact with the claimant and/or other providers of information s (e.g., private physicians, Reserve/Guard units, etc.) if doing so might help bring the claim closer to resolution. Successful contacts must be documented on VA Form Unsuccessful attempts must be documented in MAP-D Notes to include the following: Name of the individual/facility attempting to contact Specific evidence requested 8

9 Target Your Telephone Development
National Guard State Adjutants General Office Military Treatment Facilities Contact the “Release of Information Office” at the Military Treatment Facility and obtain the fax number to process requests for military medical records. Clarification needed from Claimant Private Medical Records Call the contact information to obtain a fax number Ask what the turn-around time is and set suspense dates accordingly 9

10 Contact Requirements 38 CFR 3.217(b) states the VA employee must:
Identify himself/herself as a VA employee who is authorized to receive the information or statement; Verify the identity of the provider as either the beneficiary or his or her fiduciary by obtaining specific information about the beneficiary. This information needs to be verified from the beneficiary's VA records, such as Social Security number (SSN), date of birth, branch of military service, dates of military service, or other information; and Inform the provider that the information or statement will be used for the purpose of calculating benefit amounts. 10

11 Claimant Cannot be Reached
If the claimant cannot be reached: Leave contact information in a voic . Example: Good evening, my name is John Doe. I am an employee with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. I am calling to request additional information needed to process your claim. Please return my call at at your earliest convenience. Thank you.    11

12 Claimant Cannot be Reached
If the claimant cannot be reached: Update MAP-D notes. Example: Called claimant to request date of marriage to Jane Doe and her date of birth. Action initiated by John Smith, VSR, , VARO 362. 12

13 Suitable for Email or Fax
All documents may be accepted by or fax. Exception - Original applications and separation documents intended for proof of service to establish entitlement to benefits 13

14 Adverse Action If a change results in an adverse action and the following is true: Veteran was notified at time of telephone File is documented of notification A pre-determination notice is not required for: Information about income, net worth, dependency, or marriage. Other information, due process is required. 14

15 VA Form 21-0820 Available versions of VA Form 21-0820:
: Report of General Information a: Report of First Notice of Death b: Report of Nursing Home or Assistant Living Information c: Report of Defense Finance & Accounting Service (DFAS) d: Report of Non-Receipt of payment e: Report of Incarceration f: Report of Month of Death 15

16 Documentation When using VA Form , the following items must be documented: Specific information provided Date information provided Identity of provider Steps taken to verify identity of provider Verification provider was informed that information would be used for purpose of calculating benefit amounts 16

17 Additional Guidance Proper documentation of contact is required before any action can be taken Provide a copy of the VA Form to the POA 17 17

18 Exercise 18

19 Exercise 19

20 VA Form VA Form , Authorization to Disclose Personal Information to a Third Party: Allows the release of specified information to family or other designated persons. Amended to inform incompetent beneficiaries that they cannot submit the form over their own signature. Only one VA Form may be valid at a time. 20

21 Additional Information
VA Form : Was amended to inform incompetent beneficiaries that they cannot submit the form over their own signature. Includes information that is limited and unlimited. Allows designated individuals to provide certain information to VA. May only have one designated person or organization and only one form may be valid at a time. 21

22 Procedures Adhere to the following procedures:
If the form is not sufficiently complete and legible to authorize access, return it. When the form is complete, update Share with the flash, Third Party Release, and add a statement in MAP-D notes. Go into Virtual VA to determine if there is an e-folder. If there is no e-folder, establish one. 22

23 Revoking the Authorization
Upon written receipt: Add MAP-D note Remove the flash in Share Upon receipt by telephone or in-person: Document on a VA Form Upload into Virtual VA 23

24 Third-party Authorization
If someone claims to have third-party authorization: Verify using Virtual VA. Solicit identity and ask security question. Proceed with standard protocol to identify beneficiary. Review authorization carefully. Note what type of information is permitted for release. Note expiration date of the authorization. 24

25 Someone who is seeking a service from our organization
VA Customer Someone who is seeking a service from our organization 25

26 Types of Customers VA customers: Seek information Want action
Are upset 26

27 Customer Needs All customers need to: Feel special
Express themselves freely Be right Be treated fairly Feel assured 27

28 Communication Skills VA employees need understand the following aspects of good communication skills: Verbal and non-verbal elements Feedback Barriers 28

29 Verbal and Non-verbal Elements
Verbal and non-verbal elements are defined as: Verbal elements are the words that we choose. Non-verbal elements comprise the rest of the message including vocal tone and pitch, emphasis, body language, posture, and facial expressions. 29

30 Feedback By using feedback, the VSR:
Provides the opportunity to clarify or restate a message. Ensures that clear communication has occurred. 30

31 Barriers Common barriers to clear communication include: Physical
Language Psychological 31

32 Effective Customer Service
VA employees should implement the following strategies: The “Seven C’s” Six ways to improve listening skills Five ways to improve speaking voice Four methods to acknowledge customer feelings Conversation control 32

33 The “Seven C’s” Use the Seven C’s to improve customer service: Caring
Confident Considerate Committed Creative Controlled Contagious 33

34 Improve Listening Skills
Six ways to improve listening skills are: Visualize what you’re hearing Do not interrupt the customer Listen for feelings Acknowledge what the other person is saying Ask questions Concentrate 34

35 Improve Speaking Voice
Five ways to improve your speaking voice: Speak in low tones Articulate Match the other person’s rate of speech Control volume Use voice inflections 35

36 Customer’s Feelings Four methods in acknowledging a customer’s feelings: Be empathetic Ask questions Give feedback Summarize the problem or issue 36

37 Conversation Control Be aware of where you are with your call:
Get to the question or issue quickly. Answer the question or issue thoroughly. End the call with dignity and courtesy. Remember your manners and be polite. 37

38 VBA Overview Review

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