Training Top 125 Best Practice: Customer Service New Hire 2.0 at OptumRx

OptumRx Learning Services reinvented Customer Service new hire training by creating situational, scenario-based learning in seven stages.

OptumRx—which specializes in the delivery, clinical management, and affordability of prescription medications and consumer health products—experienced a period of rapid growth, doubling its client base in a two-year period. Call center agents needed to know more and do more for customers. Employee focus on systems and processes rather than member experience was resulting in escalated customer complaints.

Customer Service leadership gave OptumRx Learning Services the following goal: Customer Experience scores (a component of Net Promoter Score indicators) to exceed 90 percent satisfaction in the first 30 days after graduation. The baseline was just over 83 percent for new hires.

A full task analysis, along with surveys of front-line staff, showed the team where knowledge gaps existed. Focus groups with prior learners revealed they wanted more hands-on practice and interactivity in training. OptumRx provided this with the redesigned Customer Service New Hire 2.0 program.

Program Details

OptumRx Learning Services reinvented Customer Service new hire training by creating situational, scenario-based learning in seven stages:

1. New Employee Orientation

2. 7 Pillars of Customer Advocacy

3. Industry Basic Concepts

4. General Call Handling Skills

5. Client-Specific Call Handling Skills

6. Troubleshooting

7. Transition to Production

Systems take a backseat to customer motivations and positive interaction, and the company allows its increasingly tech-savvy audience to learn the tools of their new trade through use in context.

Call training is broken into small topics centered on customer needs, and then organized by common call type. Each day in class focuses on one type of call and builds from simple to complex skills.

Modalities used to enhance learning include:

  • Targeted example calls demonstrating new situations
  • Live observation time
  • Choose your next topic” branched lessons
  • Hands-on practice
  • Blended e-learning activities/classroom training for supported individual learning
  • Gamification elements incorporated into activities
  • Q&A sessions with tenured staff for “real-world” relevancy
  • Passport Program with supervisor (coaching sessions, reflection activities, and a personalized action plan for the first month in production)

OptumRx Learning Services sent posters to all Customer Service sites in the month prior to the launch of training to build excitement. Leaders were given presentations and notepads with the seven stages of learning, and a video named “What’s in a Call?” was sent to all agents to introduce the new program. The team also created learning roadmap placemats for each classroom training station to show the stages of the learning journey.


The pilot group exceeded the goal of 90 percent of customers reporting they are completely satisfied. This was a 12 percent improvement when compared to similar groups trained using the old curriculum. Subsequent classes of new hires averaged 98.65 percent of customers reporting they were completely satisfied. Average handle time improved 24 percent overall.

The structure of Customer Service New Hire 2.0 has set a new model for OptumRx’s design team. New hire Patient Care Coordinator training will undergo a similar redesign this year.

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.