Reflections From the Front Line


Reflections From the Front Line

In today’s society, three decades can feel like a lifetime in Corporate America and I have been on the front lines throughout its evolution. From how we do business to the overall cultural landscape, very little has remained unchanged over the years. Women are more prominent in leadership positions. People of color have more equitable representation. Protections are in place to provide a fair environment for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

However, the biggest factor in all of this change has been the welcomed advancement of technology. Technology has improved our business by providing multiple channels for the customer to access our team.

At the beginning of my career, everything was done by hand in the call center from manual processes and the physical tracking of calls. Management was responsible for tallying how many calls were received every half hour so we could properly staff. In the banking industry, our main primary service offered was checking account balances. Now we have increased self-service options from Zelle, financial literacy, password support, and more. Through the innovation of online banking and live chat, in addition to the still reliable inbound call, our team members are ready to respond to the ever-changing needs of the customer base.

The diversity of technology has also allowed us to better train our representatives. A representative may not start off the most proficient on a phone call but have an amazing handle on the live chat experience. This has allowed us to lean in and leverage people’s strongest skill sets while providing expanded room for their growth in other areas. These multiple channels have given us the ability to respond timely and efficiently to a larger volume of calls throughout the day while continuing to build a well-rounded team.

The diversity of technology has also allowed us to better train our representatives.

As with each of those examples, the one constant that has carried throughout my career is a focus on the people. Whether it be a colleague or a customer, the connection between humans is what truly makes every meeting, engagement, phone call, email, or Zoom a potentially memorable experience. I have guided my career by the motto: “Take care of your people and they’ll take care of your customers.” Mentoring, emphasizing the importance of work/life balance, incentivizing milestones, and investment in professional development are just a few of the ways I have used my position to positively impact my team. Director may be my title, but it is not WHO I am outside of the label. I strive to connect with each member of my team to feel seen regardless of position or hierarchy. It may seem like a small detail in the larger organizational picture, but it plays such an important role in building a roster of power players.

Elaine Avery

Elaine P. Avery, a passionate advocate for mentoring others and customer service work, has spent more than 30 years in the contact service industry. She currently manages a diverse and remote-based workforce as first vice president and Head of the Customer Care Center team at Atlantic Union Bank.