The work of our Agents and Service Center team before, during and after Hurricane Irma has been nothing less than extraordinary.
Brightway Service Associates, at times numbering as many as 45, answered calls and responded to emails, doing all they could to help customers in need day, night and throughout the weekend as the storm struck Florida and right here in Jacksonville, Fla.
While there are many stories of employees working in difficult circumstances, some by generator and others into the night as well as some who evacuated out-of-state, here are just a few accounts highlighting the extraordinary efforts of our employees. Even though our office was not officially open on Monday, Sept. 11, as soon as the power was back on, people started showing up to work.
- Personal Lines Processor, Jennifer Meadows, had a house full of relatives staying with her in her Orange Park, Fla., home to ride out Hurricane Irma, so her three teenage children went to stay with her dad in Middleburg, Fla. Her dad had built his log cabin on Black Creek two feet above the 100-year flood line to be sure the home wouldn’t flood, and it didn’t. The problem was everything surrounding the home had flooded, including the well. Despite not being able to reach her family until Tuesday, Sept. 12 (a story of its own) and having a house full of people, Jennifer took calls from customers affected by the massive storm on Saturday, Sunday and even Monday as the storm blew through Northeast Florida.
- Customer Service Operations Manager, Heather Currier, knows too well how devastating a hurricane like Irma can be. She survived Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which severely damaged her home and left neighbors with nothing but a pile of rubble to call home. So when it looked like Irma would strike Florida’s Atlantic Coast last week, Heather took her children to Raleigh, N.C., to escape the storm. Despite being evacuated, major storm anxiety and two children to care for, Heather logged into her laptop went to work because she knew this is when customers and our team needed her most.
- When it looked like Irma was headed for Florida’s Atlantic Coast, Personal Lines Processor, Ella Villegas, decided that evacuating with her two dogs was the best way to stay safe. After work on Thursday, Sept. 7, she packed her bags, loaded Foxie and Bella into her car and drove through the night to North Carolina. Arriving at her friend’s house at 6:30 a.m., she took a shower, fueled up with breakfast and coffee and logged on to her laptop to work at 9 a.m., taking calls with worried customers until 5:30 p.m. Villegas continued working remotely Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday until 7 p.m. She drove through the night on Tuesday to get back to Jacksonville, arriving at 4 a.m., so she could make it to work on Wednesday morning.
- Customer Service Team Lead, Caitlin Harkins, canceled a family trip to stay in Jacksonville and work on-site Saturday and then remotely after that to answer calls and provide leadership to the team.
Herculean things were accomplished that included getting a policy reinstated at 11:15 p.m. on Friday night (Sept. 8) while working with a carrier and underwriter who were also there for us during this time. (Shout out to Carrier Development and Strategic Relationship Manager, Crystal Geiger).
Between Sept. 5 and 14, the Service Center helped more than 20,000 callers and responded to more than 1,000 emails. That is about four times more volume than the Service Center typically takes.
Agents, too, did their part to help customers, even though many were dealing with their own personal safety and loss. Brightway Agents in Florida took about 4,000 calls in the days leading up to and immediately following the storm, also quadruple the normal call volume. Many did this in remote locations due to flooding and power outages in their offices. Agents in other states offered to help, too, including one who took calls from Spanish-speaking customers.
We’re truly grateful to everyone who stepped up to put our customers first during the storm. You make us proud.