ALPS In Brief Podcast – Episode 23: Have You Talked to Nancy Yet?

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ALPS In Brief Podcast – Episode 23: Have You Talked to Nancy Yet?

At ALPS we talk a lot about what makes us different. We can say with confidence that it is because we recognize our people as our greatest asset. If you’ve ever called ALPS over the  past 18 years then it’s very likely that you’ve spoken with Nancy Hinckley. She is the front line, the first impression and the voice of ALPS. Her irreverent style and remarkable ability to connect personally with every person she speaks with is something that we treasure here in the office. On any given day she is speaking with lawyers looking for more information or firms dealing with claims and is able to masterfully help them and put their minds at ease. So in this podcast episode Mark sits down with Nancy to talk about how she found her voice by harnessing her sense of humor to connect and help the people that call ALPS every day.

ALPS In Brief, The ALPS Risk Management Podcast, is hosted by ALPS Risk Manager, Mark Bassingthwaighte.

Transcript:

MARK:

Hello, this is Mark Bassingthwaighte. I’m the risk manager with ALPS. And welcome to the latest episode of our podcast, ALPS In Brief, the podcast that comes to you from the historic Florence Building in beautiful downtown Missoula, Montana. And I’m really excited about our guest today. For a number of years I’ve known Nancy Hinckley, and she is the receptionist here at ALPS, been here for quite some time. And I will tell you why we’re going to have a conversation in just a few minutes.

But, Nancy, before we jump into everything, can you just tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?

NANCY:

Well, thank you, Mark, first of all for having me here. Thank you for inviting me.

Well, I’ve actually been here 18 years. And I know some people they go into the business of receptionist with their foot in the door going to another position. Yeah. But, you know, I love the job. I love the people. It’s fun. It’s a fun job. And I feel that I turn it into something more. So that’s why I’m still there.

MARK:

And I couldn’t agree with you more. That’s really why I wanted to visit with you today. To those of you that are listening in, some of you may be ALPS insureds, some of you not. But for those folks that are ALPS insureds, if you’ve ever called into the office for the last 18 years, I’m sure you have spoken with Nancy. And, really, Nancy is a very significant personality here at ALPS. In my mind, very much if you will, the voice of the company in so many ways. And I thought it would just be great fun to have people that have spoken with you over the year, and many more that will in future, just to get a chance to hear a little bit about you. I just find you’re such a joy in terms of the company.

Initially, Nancy, I like … You’ve been here 18 years, and I actually agree in terms of acknowledging that receptionists positions at times people have one foot in the door and one foot out the door. But you’ve taken this to a different level. You really are somebody that all of us here at ALPS just view as a key personality that helps set the, I don’t know, just the tone of the company.

What is it that keeps you just energetic?

NANCY:

Keeps me energetic?

MARK:

Yeah.

NANCY:

God blesses us with talents. And mine ain’t cooking. I say I was hired for my looks, evidently. So I figured that mine must have been laughter. I think of funny things to say. Things pop in my head. Things happen to me at home and all of a sudden I’m like wording it in a paragraph because I do those morning emails. Someone told me one time I should be a comedy writer. I thought that was a very lovely thing to say. I don’t know, it just comes to me naturally. So I enjoy that.

MARK:

It makes such a difference here. I even share, I don’t know if you notice … for those listening I am very blessed to be able to telecommute now for all kinds of reasons. So I am still included in all these office emails that we all get. But my wife has come to enjoy your humor and I’ll share those things with her in the morning. She just gets such a kick out of the crazy things that you come up with.

NANCY:

Well, like Johnny Carson, you kind of get like a lull, and then you have to come back.

MARK:

One of the other aspects, we’ve been talking a little bit about the public voice, but there is this internal voice as well. I guess, maybe can you share a little bit about why is humor important to you?

NANCY:

Well, I can give you a good example is that my mother is now living with us. Yay. Well, yay, it’s a good thing. And people back in my home state of Georgia didn’t even think she was going to make the plane trip. And she did. And I was like, “Why me God? What can I offer?” And, you know, I’ve been making her laugh. She’s been doing a lot better. She looks really good. And I even confessed to her that I actually looked into clown school one time, like when I graduated high school.

MARK:

Seriously?

NANCY:

Yes, and I was a clown for a day. But my husband made me quit. He said he didn’t want to introduce me, “Hey, this is my wife, the clown. Hey, clown, get over here.” But humor does help with a lot of things. It helps, actually it helps with the phone calls. You know, I’m from Georgia. My husband’s from Rhode Island. We met in the service. I have a niece that’s an attorney, so I have actually talked to a lot of people. When they call in if someone’s not available or if I can’t help them at that moment, I kind of break the ice with that. “Hey, I’m from ….” A lot of callers from South Carolina, “Hey, I’m from Georgia.” And all of a sudden we’re best friends. And I had one person that knew my niece in Rhode Island. I had people that knew some friends back in Idaho. “Oh, I can give you their address.” So you just start talking and that’s how I break the ice with people.

MARK:

Do you get some calls at times where people are curmudgeon-y, for lack of a better word. What I’m hearing is this is a way to manage and calm people down perhaps. Do you use the tool in that way?

NANCY:

You know, I think in 18 years I probably had maybe three callers that weren’t the nicest. The first one, she was very upset and I did try to give a little laugh in there. Not meaning to laugh, but just trying to like “Okay, you know, let me just …” And she said, “I know you think it’s funny but …” We did get through that and I did get her to someone to help her, but it kind of didn’t work at first.

MARK:

What I like about this in terms of my own role here at ALPS, I obviously do a lot of consulting and work on the preventative side. And what I love about you and the skill set that you bring, and I think so many of us can learn from, is the value of humor as a way to manage relationships. I think particularly in terms of law at times. When people are working with lawyers a lot of the time this isn’t the happiest time in their life. You know, if it’s litigation for bankruptcy, these kinds of things. I love how you use it as a way to really bridge a communication gap. I feel like, even when I come over I get a big warm hug, and these kinds of things. You create personal relationships. And I think the humor is one way to let people know, “I value getting to know you. I value …” And you do it in a way that very casually shares information. So if you expose a little bit about yourself it says, “I’m investing in you.”

Again, the fact that this happens at both the professional level in terms of what you do with our insureds, but also in the personal level internally. And to me I think the word that I’ve been hunting for throughout this whole conversation is that you are a person that defines, or helps define, our corporate culture. So I encourage all of you out there listening to just … In my mind Nancy is very much a role model in terms of how to just manage and create personal relationships. And how that can really make a significant difference. I assure you folks that Nancy has done some incredible things here for us internally.

Nancy, are there any other things you’d like to share, some thoughts?

NANCY:

As you were speaking, and thank you very much for your compliments, you know you can’t use humor all the time.

MARK:

Oh, right!

NANCY:

Especially when attorneys call in. They’re upset or whatever. But if no one is available, there’s been times, if they’re with a meeting or with someone, whatever. I think it’s also the tone that you use in your voice. I offer to take your name and number. Repeat everything. And I’ll make sure that they get the message, reassure them. They appreciate that. You can tell that. It calms them down a little bit. They to me responded, “Well, I got this message to a person that I know will relay the message.” So I feel confident about that. And it also helps with my personal relationships. I am a grandmother now. Yay. Two grandkids, 13 and 8. And I’m trying to teach them because I help with them quite a bit. I’m trying to teach them to not take life so seriously and just calm down and look at it other ways if a problem arises. So that they can just not be rushed into an answer. Not be angered by something, but “Let’s think about this. This could have happened, but it didn’t, this happened.” Blah. Blah. Blah.

MARK:

Again, in terms of how you’ve impacted me over the years. One of my, for lack of a better word, takeaways is life is just too short to get all hot and bothered about certain things. It’s just … I take that even further and say at times, “You know I need to remember that my day, my week, or even how I view myself as a person, it’s not defined by the circumstances that I am currently dealing with. They’re defined by how I respond to them and who I am.” It’s about character. You know, you just … You do that well.

NANCY:

Well, thank you.

MARK:

You do that well.

NANCY:

Thank you very much.

MARK:

Nancy, it’s been a pleasure. And I really do appreciate your taking a little time to sit down and visit with myself and our listeners.

To those of you out there listening to this podcast, I hope you enjoyed a little time to get to know Nancy. And if you ever call in, you might ask, “Who am I talking to?” Because we do have some part-time receptionists. It’s not always Nancy. But if you have the honor and the privilege to speak with her, give her a warm hello and I guarantee you won’t regret it.

So that’s it for our podcast today. If any of you have any ideas of topics you’d like to hear us discuss in the future, or have any speakers or companies you’d like us to try to visit with, please reach out and let me know. My email address is mbass@alpsnet.com.

That’s it. Thanks again, Nancy.

NANCY:

Thank you, Mark.

MARK:

You bet. Bye-bye.

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Since 1998, Mark Bassingthwaighte, Esq. has been a Risk Manager with ALPS, an attorney’s professional liability insurance carrier. In his tenure with the company, Mr. Bassingthwaighte has conducted over 1200 law firm risk management assessment visits, presented over 400 continuing legal education seminars throughout the United States, and written extensively on risk management, ethics, and technology. Mr. Bassingthwaighte is a member of the State Bar of Montana as well as the American Bar Association where he currently sits on the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility’s Conference Planning Committee. He received his J.D. from Drake University Law School.