Meet Andrew Tunks: A guiding voice

UH_Andrew_Tunks_180He’s also one of our unsung heroes

Meet Andrew Tunks. He’s a billing care center representative in St. Joseph, Mo., who has worked at American Family for nearly two years. He was nominated as an unsung hero by his division.

“Andrew is a true example of a team player and an excellent customer service representative,” says Andrew’s manager. “He is extremely knowledgeable and navigates customers through systems such as online billing without seeing what they are seeing, but simply by listening to the customer and using his experience to guide them.

“He is someone others in the department look to for guidance and leadership.”

Now, let’s hear more from Andrew:

If someone followed you around during a typical workday, what would they see you do?

They would see me interacting, mostly over the phone, with agents, their office staff and customers. We get a wide array of calls – pretty much anything you can think of. For customers, the most typical call is a payment question or a question regarding a billing statement. From agents and their staff, the main reason for a call is to apply money or do a payment schedule edit.

You interact with customers each day. How does what you do help fulfill our customer-driven mindset?

Our agents are the face of our company, but in a sense I think we are, too. In our department, we’re kind of the main interaction for some customers, especially if they have a hard time contacting their agents because it’s a weekend, the evening or they’re just busy during the day. A lot of calls will get rerouted directly to us. We try to help the overflow when the agent’s office can’t.

Andrew Tunks

The best part of my job is: Getting to interact with a variety of people and having the chance to help them with whatever question or problem they may have.

Here’s what I wish more people knew about my job: We document a brief synopsis of each call so when that customer calls again, anyone can see what has been done on the account. This really helps customers when they call again.

If my job didn’t exist, here’s what would happen: The agent’s office would probably run the risk of being overwhelmed with calls. It depends on the office, but I think a lot of offices partner with us to make sure, as a company, we’re serving the customer to the best of our ability.

What’s the best thing that’s happened to you while doing your job? Is there one memorable moment that really stands out?

Probably the most memorable is developing a bond and having certain agents and their staff members remember you and be excited when they get to work with you again.

What keeps you working at American Family?

I worked at a competitor in a different role before I came to American Family. The people here, especially in terms of my co-workers, seem to care more. It’s a very welcoming environment to stay in. I have a great relationship with my manager and really feel comfortable here.

Do you consider yourself an unsung hero? Why or why not?

No, definitely not. If I am considered an unsung hero then anybody who works in any one of our call centers should be as well.

*** Andrew Tunks has worked for American Family for two years. His goal is to successfully respond to 50 calls per a day.

Let’s share our greatest asset


I’ve been fortunate to work in a variety of roles during my time with American Family.

I started in AmPlan, our company’s billing department at one time. I remember trying to reconcile complex commercial billing accounts. I was just out of college and working with people who had 20, 30, even 40 years of experience. I admired how dedicated these people were and how efficiently they answered questions asked by customers and agents.

I wondered if I would ever do my job as well as they did.

I marveled at what they knew.

A few years later, I joined the Claim Division as a property adjuster. I worked with agents and adjusters who, for years, made it their business to help customers through some of the most trying times of their lives.


I wondered if I would ever do my job as well as they did.

I marveled at what they knew.

Here I am, more than 20 years later. Many of my expert friends are retired or no longer with the company. I’ll always appreciate the patience and willingness they showed when sharing with me their knowledge and, more important, their experience.

I think the spirit of sharing is alive and well at American Family. We just do it differently now. Technology helps us share information more efficiently, and it gives us more ways to interact with each other. That’s a good thing, but it also takes some of the human element out of the equation — and that human element is invaluable and difficult to replicate.

I sometimes wonder what my expert friends would think about today’s American Family. I know they’d be proud of our agent and employee accomplishments, and of our commitment to our customers.

And if I had to guess, I think they’d offer this advice:

What your co-workers know is your company’s greatest asset. When people don’t personally interact, the transfer of knowledge is compromised. Through your day-to-day work, strike the right balance between technology and each other to keep the art of personal interaction alive and well.

In the process, you’ll all marvel at what you know.

*** Jon is a Strategic Communications Consultant for American Family Insurance

You’re my hero

Last month, a customer called me a hero. Tonight, I’ll talk to someone else who considers me a hero.

I’m working a catastrophe event in central Illinois, where an extremely powerful tornado smashed through Washington and nearby communities the morning of Nov. 17. You may have seen stories in the news as it drew national and international attention.

I started out in American Family’s Kansas City property claims office in 2008. In the next few years, I assisted at a number of catastrophe responses, and this sort of work appealed to me for various reasons.

For one thing, I like to see different parts of the country. I also like to meet people. And the team atmosphere is very strong – if I need information or the benefit of someone else’s perspective, I’m comfortable calling anyone on the team.

So, in 2011 I successfully applied for a job with the field catastrophe team. I love my job! You might think it would be depressing to go from one disaster to the next, but it’s quite the opposite. I’m a people person. Being able to meet someone face-to-face, and to offer comfort (or even a hug, if it’s needed) gives me a good feeling.

I arrived in Washington on Monday, Nov. 18, the day after the storm. It’s an incredible scene, when an entire community is challenged like this. You have people walking up and down the street, asking their neighbors or total strangers if they need a hand. Churches and other volunteer groups work long hours providing food, water and other needed supplies. There’s just this positive vibe all around you, as the community joins hands in the healing process.

I met with a customer in East Peoria, Ill., Wednesday, just down the road from Washington. About one-third of her home’s roof was torn off, and the inside was littered with drywall and insulation. Like many of us would be after experiencing such trauma, she was devastated and had trouble communicating with me.

We talked, we laughed, we hugged. As our customer started to open up a bit more, she shared that she had a hard time envisioning how her life would ever be the same again. And with the holidays just around the corner, those feelings of despair and helplessness were only magnified.???????????????

I was able to comfort her and help her to understand and believe that everything will come back together for her again. The roof will be rebuilt and the interior will be restored. Won’t be in time for Thanksgiving, but the contractor’s timeline may allow for Christmas at home.

“You’re my hero!” she exclaimed.

And that’s what I do for a living. That’s how I support my family, that’s what makes me feel like this is the right job for me. It looks like we’ll be here through the Thanksgiving holiday, teaming with the local and field claim units to get our customers back on their feet again.

The tough part is calling home to Kansas City every night. My daughter, Zayla, 7, demands to know, “When are you coming home, Mama?” My son, Zion, is only 3, and he’s just happy to hear my voice.

Someday soon, I will walk through that door, and get the chance to be a face-to-face mom again. That’s when I’ll really be a hero.

*** Jehanna is a Catastrophe Property Claim Field Adjuster for American Family Insurance.