Innovating With Intelligence: How Empyrean Leverages AI for Superior Service 

Innovating With Intelligence: How Empyrean Leverages AI for Superior Service 

Artificial Intelligence is shaping and changing the future of work as we know it. From virtual assistants to chatbots and facial recognition, the world is officially entering the peak era of AI – and so is Empyrean. As part of our most recent product enhancements, we’ve integrated AI technology into our Service Center operations to empower our team members and improve efficiency to deliver unparalleled service and unwavering support to our clients and their employees.  

We interviewed Empyrean’s Vice President of Member Service & Service Center Strategy, Freddie Berberena, to delve into the strategic rationale behind Empyrean’s AI Service Center adoption and the recent breakthroughs that have propelled AI from being a tool that once required extensive management to a self-learning marvel.

Why did Empyrean decide to leverage AI for our Service Center? 

We’ve been watching the AI space for many years and were early adopters of some of its elementary capabilities. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so easy to add or update information back then, and these tools required a lot of teaching and management since they couldn’t learn by themselves…until recently!  

Of course, you’ve probably heard a lot about ChatGPT and how it’s capable of imitating human thinking and tone. What’s really changing the game is the method behind it, called the Large Language Model (LLM). In the past, you had to teach the technology what words to listen for and then build out a repository of answers for it to learn and replicate. Now we can expose AI to a much broader set of information. 

With improved Natural Language engines, AI understands different words that have the same meaning and can now teach itself answers to questions based on the information it’s fed. Essentially, we’re teaching AI in a similar way to how we teach humans to assist customers.  

Wait…we’re not replacing our highly trained Service Center team with AI, right?  

Never! AI is going to make our Service Center support more automated and easier for employees to use on their own. One of the biggest benefits is that employees will be able to get answers to their questions 24/7 without having to call our support line. This will be hugely beneficial, especially for people who prefer not to speak with a live agent.  

That said, there are a myriad of complex and sensitive situations that will always require human empathy and support from a trained agent. AI will be most helpful in solving simple tasks such as password resets and providing general plan information, which will allow our Service Center agents to focus on more complex scenarios and questions.

We know that not everyone will be open to AI assistance – and that’s ok! Employees calling in to our Service Center will always have the option to talk to a live representative, no matter their reason for calling.  

How is this going to improve the Service Center experience for our clients and their employees? 

As we touched on earlier, the two main benefits that members will experience are access to 24/7 support and getting that support through whichever channel they prefer. Customers want efficient, user-friendly service, and we’re finding that more and more people prefer not to talk to a live agent.

We’re also leveraging tools that members can’t see, but will benefit from. Thanks to AI, our Quality Program is now able to review 100% of the calls that come into our Empyrean Service Center. Better yet, it can look for and report on behaviors we find important and notify managers in real time if the tool identifies an issue with a call (such as an upset caller).  

Since the tool can listen to calls as they come in, it also helps our Service Center team by providing them with information about the caller’s request. For example, if an employee calls in with questions about HSA contribution maximums for the year, our tool will automatically pull out that information and provide it to the agent, so they don’t have to spend time searching for the answer and putting the caller on hold. It’s a win-win!  

How are we going to measure the success of this new functionality? 

We’ll measure the success of our AI capabilities based on how much our callers like, use, and engage with our tools. If employees can get the information they need when they need it, it will be a great experience for them – and that is what matters most to us. We’ll also see this functionality reduce the amount of time callers need to spend on a call or chat with us, allowing them to get on with the rest of their busy day.

I recently read a Forbes article that said “47% of Gen Z will walk away from a brand after a single bad customer service experience, so every interaction matters.” This hit home for me, and is exactly why Empyrean will always operate with a service-first and people-first approach. We have trained our Service Center agents to harness the power of our AI tools with the understanding that they are responsible for creating a phenomenal customer experience every time.  

As AI continues to usher in a new era of possibilities, Empyrean has seamlessly integrated its capabilities into our Service Center to better support our clients and their employees. By embracing the dynamic power of AI, we remain committed to elevating customer experiences, ensuring access to top tier support, and prioritizing a service-first approach where innovation and empathy coincide for an exceptional people experience every time.  

Interested in learning more about our latest product enhancements? Check out our full 2023 Summer Release Notes here


Women’s Equality Day 2023: Celebrating the Women of Empyrean

Women’s Equality Day 2023: Celebrating the Women of Empyrean

National Women’s Equality Day commemorates the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which prevents the federal government or states from denying the right to vote based on sex. August 26, 1920 is considered a major turning point in the fight for women’s rights in the United States.

Today and every day, we recognize the fight of the trailblazers who came before us, and celebrate the many women who make Empyrean great. We asked some of these amazing women to reflect on what workplace gender equality means to them and to share their experiences, inspirations, and career advice.

Sarah Hotze
Vice President of Client Solutions
Empyrean Team Member Since 2013

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?

Women’s equality is important to me all year round, but formal holidays such as Women’s Equality Day are a great chance to step back and take stock – reflect on successes, but also think about the work we still have left to do.

I think it’s a good chance to ask myself what I personally can do to contribute, with a renewed sense of energy.

Is workplace equity important in the work you do?

It’s critical! Everyone performs best when they feel their whole selves are valued and included – and people stay at organizations where they feel like they can perform their best.  

The link between engagement and equity is so clear.  And, we have to show clients that we can support their entire workforce – that our services and solutions are designed for all.

What moment made you most proud to be a woman of Empyrean?

I am always proud to show prospective clients the diversity of our employee population – since I started at Empyrean, women have always made up about half of our workforce. That’s not to say we don’t have more work to do.

I also vividly recall the first sales meeting I attended where every person in the room (Empyrean and the client) was a woman. That used to be rare, now it is not!

What does workplace gender equality mean to you?

It means that all gender identities are supported, valued, recognized, and rewarded appropriately at every level of an organization.

What’s something that makes you feel empowered?

I get a lot of energy from connecting with other professional women, whether work or personal connections, and sharing our experiences. It feels great to celebrate successes but also share challenges.

Brandy Potter
DEI, Culture & Employee Engagement Manager
Empyrean Team Member Since 2018

As our head of DEI, is workplace equity important in the work that you do?

Workplace equity is important and fundamental to our mission and core values. It is also key for our DEI initiatives.  It is crucial in what I do and what we aim to achieve: 

  1.  Foundation of Inclusion: To create an inclusive workplace, we must ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate, contribute, and succeed.
  2. Fosters Diversity: When individuals from all backgrounds and experiences are treated fairly, it encourages a broader range of people to join our organization and contribute their unique perspectives.
  3. Nurtures Belonging: When employees know they are treated equitably, they are more likely to engage, speak up, and bring their authentic selves to work.
  4. Strenghtens Organizational Culture: Contributes to a positive culture where fairness, respect, and opportunity are not just ideals but lived values.
  5. Attracts Top Talent: Talented individuals seek organizations that value diversity and offer equitable opportunities.
  6. Drives Sustainable Change: It’s about creating lasting change benefits current and future generations.  

It is about a journey we are on. We will continue to evaluate and improve our DEI strategies, programs, and policies to ensure that everyone within our organization has an opportunity to thrive and excel.

Who are some who have inspired you – both personally and professionally?

Most of my career has been in the financial industry, where I had the opportunity to work for some inspiring women leaders. They were all unique in their own way, but one in particular was very tough in terms of expectations.  While at the time it was challenging, reflecting back on what I learned the most from her especially was in terms of positioning myself to be heard, continue to persevere, take risks, be clear in communication, pay attention to the details, and lastly what women can achieve in (what was at the time) predominantly male industry.

From a personal aspect, my daughter inspires me to be a better mom and person overall.  While one could say we have similar personalities, our views can be very different.  At times, this may be generational, but she challenges me to actively listen, be open-minded, and understand her perspectives as a young adult.    

Do you have a special message you would like to share?

I encourage everyone to take an active role in promoting workplace equity. Together, we can build a workplace culture where diversity is celebrated, inclusion is the norm, and equity is the foundation upon which we build our shared success. 

Lisbeth Ruiz
Front End Engineering Manager
Empyrean Team Member Since 2020

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?

For me, it means several things. It means recognizing and appreciating having the same rights as everyone, regardless of gender. It means showing respect towards history, sacrifices, and all the events that occurred to make it possible. 

It means appreciating our contributions, whether big or small, to our jobs, our society, our personal lives. 

It means celebrating our abilities, strength, resilience, even acknowledging our weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and mistakes. 

It means even more a responsibility to inspire and help other women, a commitment to support each other so we can move forward together. 

Is workplace equity important in the work you do?

Definitely. I think we should all be provided with the same opportunities and resources to demonstrate our abilities, perform our work, and grow in the workplace. Treating everyone equitably enhances collaboration and engagement on the team. 

I believe all contributions are valuable and must be considered. Everyone has unique skills, ideas, strengths, needs, and experiences – each of which are fundamental to having more robust solutions and outcomes.

Who are some women who have inspired you during your life – both personally and professionally?

In my personal life, my mother and my sisters have been my greatest inspiration. Seeing how they faced challenges with resilience, they always showed and demonstrated that mutual support is essential to move forward.

With them, I learned that when we work together, we do more and better than when we stand alone. 

What moment made you most proud to be a woman of Empyrean?

There have been several moments in which I have felt very proud to be a woman since I have been at Empyrean.

If I were to highlight one, it would be the moment when I was informed that I was being considered for the position of Front-end Engineering Manager. This was unexpected, as an engineer and working in the IT field my working life has been mostly surrounded by men.

Being considered for a manager as a woman felt that my experience, my skills, and my efforts were truly valued. In addition to that, I felt a greater sense of responsibility to give my best and meet the expectations of the position. 

What does workplace gender equality mean to you?

I think that workplace gender equality means that everyone in the workplace is subject to the same opportunities, respect, and responsibilities; and your contributions are valued regardless of your gender, background, or identity. 

Do you have a special message you’d like to share with the group?   

Whenever you are presented with an opportunity to help others, take it. We are stronger together. 

What’s something (in life or at work) that makes you feel empowered?  

For me, it’s acquiring knowledge and practicing mentoring. Whenever I learn something new or gain a new skill, I feel like any goal is achievable. It gets more rewarding when I pass my knowledge to others, and see them putting it into practice. 

Arlinda Williams
Client Service Manager
Empyrean Team Member Since 2022

As our Benefits, Comp & HRIS Manager, is workplace equity important in the work you do? If so, why?

I think that compensation and benefits are the lead indicators of how much value a company puts on workplace equity. Our policies and practices are guiding us to ensure that Empyrean is a place where a woman (or for that matter any individual) can come in and put in their best work without being held back by their gender identity.

I can proudly say working at Empyrean each day I am able to reinstate our organization’s belief in workplace equity.

Who are some women who have inspired you?

I have been privileged to know many strong women in my life. Some are part of my family, others are close friends, some I have known professionally and have the honor to work with. Each of these women have inspired me, taught me, and guided me in the interactions I have had with them.  

Do you have a special message you’d like to share with the group?

To all my fellow ladies – the strength that we seek is within us. Spend your energy and resources in developing yourself and not in external validation.

Darcy Potter
Team Manager, BPSS
Empyrean Team Member Since 2016

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you? 

It’s a day to remember and be grateful for the work of the individuals who advocated and continue to advocate for change and equal treatment.  

Is workplace equity important in the work you do? If so, why?  

Absolutely! Equity can assist with building team unity, contribute to employee happiness and buy-in, as well as reduce turnover. 

Who are some women who have inspired you during your life – both personally and professionally?  

Both my mom and my grandma have been inspirational. My grandpa worked in construction and was frequently working out of town and out of state. During that time, my grandma raised 2 children while running their family hotel, bar, and restaurant and then later a standalone restaurant. She was able to successfully run businesses and raise her children. She was also a pillar for the family and assisted anyone in need.         

My mom was a young, single mother who put herself through college. I watched her work her way up different companies throughout my life, always resulting in positions of management, sometimes working multiple jobs to support us. They’ve both supported and encouraged me during my life. 

What moment made you most proud to be a woman of Empyrean? 

There isn’t just one specific moment. I’m proud to work for a company that has multiple women in positions of leadership.  

What does workplace gender equality mean to you?  

All employees are treated equally, especially in regard to opportunities for growth, workplace responsibilities, and rights.  

What’s something (in life or at work) that makes you feel empowered?  

Knowledge. Learning new things or taking on new tasks is a rewarding feeling. Being able to master those and then teach someone else, helps empower them as well.  

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given about your career?  

To go outside my comfort zone. It’s the only way to learn new skills and grow both personally and professionally.  

Kelly Knick
Director, Channel Enablement
Empyrean Team Member Since 2022

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you? 

To me, Women’s Equality Day is a day to reflect on all the different accomplishments of the many women before me, and the ones that stand beside me today. So many of my mentors have been women in leadership and I aspire to find ways to do this for the generations that will come after me.

It’s so important to have the opportunity for advancement and to see other women in these positions – this creates a goal to work towards. 

It’s also important to see different perspectives, understand different thought-leadership processes, and get rid of the idea that there are ‘traditional gender roles’ in the workplace. Regardless of your gender, there is a place for you to make a difference.

Who are some women who have inspired you during your life – both personally and professionally?  

Easy – my sister has inspired me both personally and professionally! 

She has worked her way up the corporate ladder for the past 10 years while maintaining the balance of being a mother and a Lead Financial Consultant. This has meant a lot of long nights, working weekends, and facing the constant internal struggle many working parents feel when being judged for putting their families before their careers.  

I think she’s done an amazing job at balancing both, and she will forever be my role model.

What’s something at work that makes you feel empowered?  

When I am in a meeting with colleagues and they ask my opinion, whether it is how best to overcome a challenge or how best to excel at a task, I always feel my thoughts are valued. 

There is no hierarchy of ‘my way is the best way’ – we are all just people who represent different backgrounds, role types, and levels of experience collaborating together because we all have something of value to share.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given about your career?  

Listen and understand the why.  In most of our day-to-day tasks, whether internally or externally, a person just wants to be heard. 

When you can understand the reasoning behind a task, a change, or a way of thought, you can be a more effective teammate.   

Sarah Haslam
Client Service Manager

Empyrean Team Member Since 2022

Is workplace equity important in the work you do? If so, why?

Yes. As employees, we all should have the opportunity to access the same resources as one another and be treated fairly with respect like any human being. Equity plays a huge role in how an employee sees themselves as valuable due to their ability, knowledge, and experience.

Who are some women who have inspired you during your life – both personally and professionally?

I feel fortunate that I have had several women who have and continue to inspire me. My Mother for her strength, both of my grandmothers for their will and determination, and my Mother-in-law for her perpetual ‘can do’ attitude. 

I’ve had strong women behind me all these years and it inspires me each and every day to show up and do my best. I always carry this attitude/mindset with me at work and in my personal life. 

What moment made you most proud to be a woman of Empyrean?

I love to see we have women in leadership; this is HUGE and a wonderful representation!

I also appreciate the fact I get to collaborate with so many different people and all walks of life and when it boils down to it, I don’t feel like one individual treats me differently because I’m a woman and I appreciate that most of all.

Do you have a special message you’d like to share with the group?  

Only YOU can decide if today is going to be a good day to have a GREAT day and don’t sweat the small stuff!

What’s something (in life or at work) that makes you feel empowered?

My family keeps me going, they are my number one fans, and I know I weather all the seasons much better at work, in life, and especially at home with them close by for all the cheers, hugs, tissues, and most importantly their motivation! They are my WHY.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given about your career?

Do not take things too personally. At the end of the day, we are all humans and NOT robots – remember to give one another and most importantly ourselves some grace.  Always check in with your team, you never know what someone might be going through, and talking to them for 5 -10 minutes to see how they are will forever be a game changer! 

Happy Women’s Equality Day!