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John Hancock Financial Services - Aligning Partnerships and Locations

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2018, Click to Enter The 2019 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service

Company: John Hancock Financial Services, Boston, MA
Company Description: John Hancock's core retail products in the U.S. focus on providing financial solutions at every stage of our clients' lives. Our product suite includes life insurance, mutual funds, 401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, and annuities. We distribute our products primarily through licensed financial advisors, and through John Hancock Financial Network.
Nomination Category: Customer Service & Call Center Awards Team Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Customer Service Team of the Year - Recovery Situation - Financial Services Industries

Nomination Title: Aligning Partnerships and Locations

Tell the story about what this nominated team achieved since the beginning of July 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

John Hancock Signature Services is the transfer agent for John Hancock Investments, who manages over $100 billion in assets. As a transfer agent, an essential part of our business strategy is site redundancy. At the start of 2016, frontline associates were located in two main locations: Manila, Philippines, and Portsmouth, NH, with the main goal of delivering a customer-centric experience through a proactive, professional, and empathetic approach with every customer touchpoint.

Before the year 2016 closed out, it proved to be a year of transition. John Hancock Investments invited the Transfer Agent to coexist at their site in Tempe, AZ with the intent of developing Transfer Agent employees into John Hancock Investment positions. The partnership was meant to provide succession planning for employee growth and development. At the time, the average Transfer Agent tenure was at a record high of six years across the Manila and Portsmouth sites, service metrics were above industry average, and the industry knowledge base was well-established. However, three site locations were not economically conducive to scale, and a corporate mandate was issued to repatriate staff, functions, and roles back to the United States between Portsmouth, NH, and the new site in Tempe, AZ.

Needless to say, this presented a host of challenges:

  • Loss of 27% of staff representing an average tenure of ten years per associate
  • Establishing a presence in an unknown demographic
  • Maintaining morale of existing staff during transition
  • Change of business continuity plans

The Transfer Agency realized that this was a large undertaking that could impact service levels if not managed appropriately, and determined that a project team was required to manage the transition to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Open, train, and staff the new site in Tempe
  • Formulate hiring strategy to offset the loss of staff in Manila, specific to key skills and staff
  • Develop strategic initiatives through service reviews and reporting to monitor service impacts and risk management
  • Establish and manage partnership with the product organization to become a pipeline for employee development
  • Deliver the strategic initiative to completion by the close of December 2017 without service interruptions

Notwithstanding the short timeframe for such a potentially disruptive project, this became a top priority for the project team. The project resources required a tremendous amount of focused effort of 220 hours of leadership involvement; 7,890 training/classroom hours; and interviewing and onboarding for new hires representing over 25% of the organization’s staff over a six-month timeframe.

Regardless of the strain in resources and condensed time frame, the initiative came to fruition as planned. As indicated by our service metrics throughout this period, the quality of the service levels remained consistent. With over 210,000 phone calls and 600,000 transaction requests, the service levels remained above peer industry averages with:

  • Ease of doing business score of 94.2%
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 72.5%
  • Customer Satisfaction score of 93.9%
  • First call resolution score of 88.4%


The scores only confirmed what we already knew: our customers appreciated our service, and provided the following feedback to us:

“Every person I speak with is nothing but professional, courteous, kind and helpful. It means so much to a “little guy like me”.”

“I’ve called other companies who wouldn’t give me the time of day! Nicky was the best, and took the time to explain everything to me.”

“Thank you for hiring employees like Haley. I truly appreciate how she handled the lengthy call that went 40 minutes past her scheduled shift!”

“I’m very happy with your company, and the service you provide!”

As of December 31, 2017, the transition and recovery is completed. Given the testimonies from our clients, we are keeping our reputation as a first-class service organization.