Advocate Job Description
Advocates serve as intermediaries between patients and staff members or customers and businesses by answering questions, offering advice, and resolving grievances. Healthcare facilities, mental health centers, retail businesses, and service-based companies hire advocates for full-time shifts to work independently with little supervision within the company or facility. Some advocates work as independent contractors responsible for finding their own clients, in which case they travel to meet with clients and provide services. Advocates ultimately report to an immediate manager or to the hiring client.
Advocate Duties and Responsibilities
The daily responsibilities for advocates vary based on the industry they’re in and whether they work for a company or an individual. However, the core duties performed by advocates are universally the same in spite of these variances:
Respond to Questions
Advocates answer questions from clients or staff members, providing in-depth explanations.
Advocates resolve problems with patients, customers, or staff members by finding effective solutions that are beneficial to both them and the company or facility.
Advocates advise clients and staff members on their available options, or on specific products or services, that might be beneficial to them. This might include informing them of available community resources and providing referrals.
Advocates access customer, patient, and staff files in digital systems in order to provide individuals with information that is relevant to them.
Advocates write reports and notes from meetings to record problems and resolutions, keeping files updated with current information for each individual they serve.
Advocate Skills and Qualifications
Advocates effectively interact with people, determining the best ways to resolve their problems and fulfill their needs. Companies and individuals who hire advocates seek out professionals who have the skills necessary to perform this job.
- Customer service – advocates resolve customer and patient issues and answer questions
- Interpersonal skills – advocates interact with people of all ages and backgrounds and talk with them about sensitive issues
- Analytical skills – advocates assess individual needs and complaints, determining ways to resolve problems to provide patients, customers, or staff members with what they need
- Sales – retail-based employers look for advocates with sales skills to advise customers on available products or services, using selling techniques to promote specific offers
- Time-management – to address multiple people each day, maintaining tight schedules and deadlines
- Computer skills – to make notes in digital files, logging communications and resolved problems, and to access digital customer information
Advocate Education and Training
Most employers require advocates to have a high school diploma or equivalent for this job. Many employers prefer an associate’s degree; having this can make candidates stand out, but it is not always a hard requirement. Employers also accept work experience in place of education, and some companies hire advocates on an entry-level basis. Advocates who travel to different businesses or facility branches, or go to meetings with customers, must also have a valid driver’s license.
Almost all employers provide advocates with some basic paid training. The length of the training varies depending on how much experience and education the advocate already has and by company requirements. Advocates in training study the company to gain a strong grasp of available products and services, company policies, and best practices for resolving common problems.
Advocate Salary and Outlook
Like advocates, social workers help people resolve their problems. Job data recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that social workers earned a median income of $47,980 yearly and $23.07 hourly in 2017. There were more than 600,000 jobs for social workers in 2016, a number estimated to rise by 16 percent through 2026. This is much faster than the national job growth average. PayScale shows that advocates earn a median hourly income of $15.57.
Advocates who are hired by companies or facilities for full-time shifts receive benefits packages that include health, dental, vision, and life insurance. Retirement planning is typically also provided. In addition, advocates receive paid holidays and vacation days. Advocates who work for themselves as independent contractors do not receive benefits and assume primary responsibility for their healthcare and other insurance needs.
These books and websites contain helpful resources for advocates who want to learn more about the job and advance on this career path:
The Customer Advocate and The Customer Saboteur: Linking Social Word-of-Mouth, Brand Impression, and Stakeholder Behavior – Read this book for an overview of what it takes to be an effective customer advocate.
National Association of Consumer Advocates – Look for professional development packages, browse the training library, and learn more about advocacy in general at this website for consumer advocates.
Advocate Marketing: Strategies for Building Buzz, Leveraging Customer Satisfaction, and Creating Relationships – Discover strategies for succeeding as an advocate through marketing techniques with the tips in this book.
National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants – Find upcoming conference dates, explore professional development resources, and get news updates for healthcare advocates at this website.
So You Want to Be a Patient Advocate?: Choosing a Career in Health or Patient Advocacy (Health Advocacy Career Series) (Volume 1) – Find out what it takes to be a patient advocate and how to get the most out of this career using the tools in this book.
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