OnStar has changed a lot over the past 16 years. Thanks to advances in technology, many new services have been added and existing ones enhanced. But the one constant throughout the history of OnStar has always been its Advisors. They are, simply, the core of OnStar.
As part of our OnStar anniversary celebration, we talked with three longtime OnStar Advisors — Cassandra Broom, Laura Sholander and Jill Staniszewski — about how their job has changed through the years, which call is most memorable and why they do what they do.
How has technology changed the OnStar Advisor’s job?
Cassandra: When I first became an OnStar Advisor, subscribers used a handset phone, not a mirror, to contact OnStar. And there was no Hands-Free Calling, only routing. For me, the greatest thing ever was Turn-by-Turn Navigation. Up until 2007, we used to give only manual or Advisor-guided routes. We had to stay on the phone for as long as it took for the subscriber to get wherever he or she was going — sometimes for hours. When I think that what used to take me 35-40 minutes now takes 35-40 seconds to load and send, it blows my mind! But spending all that time on the phone while giving directions helped us develop a good rapport with subscribers. And that one-on-one bond is maintained today.
Laura: I can remember when there were no OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics emails or OnDemand Diagnostics, Remote Ignition Block or Stolen Vehicle Slowdown®, which just happens to be my favorite service. Stolen Vehicle Slowdown is fabulous. It stops thieves in their tracks. We’ve actually gotten calls for Roadside Assistance from them when the vehicle they’ve stolen stops running. And we’re always more than happy to send the police to assist them.
What is your most memorable call?
Jill: Technology has really changed the way we handle calls. It has empowered the individual Advisor to resolve more issues with as few transfers as possible. And that makes a better experience for both the Advisor and the subscriber. Remote Door Unlock went from taking up to 10 minutes to just minutes today. And the satellite imagery that’s used for emergency calls is so much better. Now you can see landmarks and not just cross streets.
Cassandra: It was an older couple. The husband lost control on a rural road and the car flipped over several times. The husband didn’t survive the crash. The wife was trapped in the car and was extremely distraught. I stayed on the line with her until help arrived and tried to calm her. It was very, very sad. After I hung up, I had to give myself a few minutes before I could take the next call.
What does your job mean to you ?
Laura: I got a call from a gentleman in south Florida whose Hummer had been stolen. He was so upset, not because his car was stolen, but because his little Bichon was in the car. He was worried sick. I’m a dog lover, too, and that call really hit home. After his Hummer was recovered, I called him back to make sure everything was OK and he told me that his dog had hidden under the seat the whole time and the guy didn’t even know there was a dog in the car. The dog’s owner was so relieved and grateful. He couldn’t stop thanking me.
Jill: An elderly woman had pushed the emergency button. She was very disoriented and didn’t know how to get home. I knew she needed help. I called the police and it turned out they had a missing person’s report on the woman. I stayed on the line with her until the police got to her. The poor woman sounded so scared. I was so glad I could help her.
Cassandra: I believe this is one of the few jobs that when you go home at night, you know you’ve helped somebody that day. That feeling energizes me. OnStar provides safety and security at the touch of a button. And being a part of that is important to me.
Laura: Every call is different, and many are very serious situations. You must be empathetic without being drawn in emotionally because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to help the next caller or the one after that. And the point is that they all need your help. Every day I know I’ve done something to help someone, and that’s a pretty good feeling.
Jill: Advisors strive to treat each call as their most important one. Helping someone is such a rewarding feeling no matter if the call involves giving CPR instructions in a life-threatening situation or helping a mom who locked herself out of the car after putting her baby in the car seat. Every call is rewarding on a different level. That’s why we do it.
Check out our other stories about Advisors and their most memorable calls.