New York, NY — Recently we visited General Vision Services (GVS) and spoke with Teresa Carfora, their Customer Service Manager. She sits in the heart of the GVS customer service department in their New York City headquarters, alongside her team as they assist their members throughout the day. We spoke about how she got her start, the types of services that GVS offers, as well as why she thought they stood out from other vision providers on the market.
Hi Teresa! Thank you for meeting with me today. Can you tell me a little about GVS and how you came to work here?
For starters, I’ve always loved helping people and making a difference. All my prior jobs were in customer service, from large corporations such as Merrill Lynch to private doctors’ offices. My first experience working directly with patients was at a doctor’s office and that type of personal interaction, when you’re working directly with the customer, felt particularly rewarding.
GVS felt like a great match for the same reasons. Even though we service a large union community, the same type of private practice relationship still exists with our members. Plus, it’s now paired with the large company resources of a major eyecare provider. The end goal is the same whether you’re working with clients or patients – to resolve their problems and to make life easier for them. I get real satisfaction from helping people. Plus, I love to talk, and that’s great in customer service.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with GVS as a provider, what is your typical day like at GVS? Can you tell me a little about how the customer service department works?
The GVS customer service department is one of our strongest assets. It’s great because our members can reach a live person for any questions or service requests. Our goal is to figure out their best care options, and how they can proceed with them. Typically throughout the day, we help members locate their closest providers, check their benefit and eligibility information, and make appointments on their behalf. We’ve also created specialized concierge services for many of our union accounts, and are offering account specific dedicated phone support as part of our customer service.
Wow, a concierge service! Tell me more about how that works.
It’s very simple, actually. Each phone line is supported by representatives working with that specific union account, and the assigned representatives have thorough knowledge of that union’s benefits. This means members receive their benefit information more quickly and efficiently. For example, when a member calls our concierge line, that specific union’s service representative answers the phone. That representative knows their union, as well as their specific benefit and service options. Instead of an automated message, it’s our live CSR speaking to them, and greeting them on a much more personal level.
That definitely sounds helpful. What other advantages does GVS offer?
We’re actually the only vision carrier in the tri-state area to offer online appointment booking, which is another way for our members to access their benefits quickly and independently. We also started an annual trend report that promotes our designer frame collection. It’s really helpful for members who are searching for the latest and greatest looks each year. It’s available on our website, and as a printed brochure as well.
Online appointment booking, and a style guide — it seems like GVS offers many services that other providers don’t necessarily have?
You know, we’re very proud of our reputation as “the vision company dedicated to America’s unions.” When members have issues, we always listen to them and find out what’s going on. We focus a lot on staying on top of what our members really need, as well as being consistently innovative so that we offer the best possible options on the market today. For many members, time constraints sometimes make it difficult to take advantage of all of our benefits. With this in mind, we try to make all our options as convenient as possible. When workers have difficulty
planning or scheduling eye exams due to their locations and hours, our GVS Mobile Eye Care Center is the solution. Our Senior Vice President Tony Rosario, likes to call them “optical stores on wheels,” which I think sums them up perfectly. The Mobile Eye Care Centers arrive at member job locations, fully equipped with an optometrist, a licensed optician, and a full stock of frames.
That sounds extremely convenient for members. I’ve definitely never heard of that! With all those options and benefits, how does GVS ensure quality of service?
We use customer service surveys to ensure that we give all of our members a voice, both on the website and in our stores. We ask for ratings and comments on all our retail locations so we know if they are adhering to our high standards. All of our calls are recorded as well, which are reviewed by staff and ultimately submitted in a report. When we speak with a member who has an issue, we also try to contact the stores directly on their behalf. Understanding the situation from both sides helps us reach the best resolution. Our goal is always to ensure that any suggested improvements or problems are addressed, so that we can continue to offer the type of service that our unions deserve.
Thank you again for sitting with me today, Teresa. I’ll end with this: What do you love most about working for GVS?
Honestly, it’s just a great company to work for. To me, customer service is the best part of any company – we’re the eyes and ears! People tell us what’s going on, and we do our best to translate it into change that benefits everyone. I love it, I really do.