The Call Center Should Be the First to Know, Not the Last
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Too many call center agents learn about the launch of their healthcare organization’s product, incentive, or promotion from callers, not management. I hope your operation is different, but I fear you, too, have found yourself in this unenviable situation.
The results are dismayed callers shaking their heads in frustrated disbelief, flustered agents fumbling through the calls while irritation bubbles inside, and a peeved call center manager scrambling to piece together the details, while simultaneously trying to educate staff on how to respond.
Marketing doesn’t intend to leave the call center out of the loop, yet it happens. And each time it occurs, a wall of distrust and animosity builds in the call center toward marketing.
And marketing—not knowing they dropped the ball—is angry at the unprepared call center for bungling their carefully constructed marketing initiative.
The solution is to coordinate with marketing.
Establish an Interdepartmental Connection
Though you may be upset with marketing for their latest oversight, don’t take a confrontational approach. Instead adopt a cooperative mindset to seek your mutual benefit. Discuss ways to develop a standard communication channel.
One option might be a fixed, recurring meeting between marketing manager and call center manager, where the two sit down for marketing to talk about their projects. In doing so, the areas needing coordination will surface.
Another thought is for marketing to assign a call center liaison, who has the responsibility to look at every marketing project for possible call center application, be it direct or ancillary. Then communicate needed details to the call center.
Also invite marketing to tour your call center—preferably sitting with an agent to better understand the scope of their work. They will leave with a greater respect for the complexities of the call center, replacing a simple view of the job as “just talking on the phone—anyone can do that” with a more realistic appreciation.
Items to Consider
Sometimes your call center will be able to handle the work generated by a marketing campaign with no problem. Other times will require training. This could be on the new elements of the initiative or how to access an unfamiliar app or navigate a database.
You may also need to adjust your call center schedule on launch day and thereafter. This could require overtime, scaling back on nonessential tasks for a few days, or even hiring more staff.
If you need to hire staff for a marketing campaign but lack the needed time to fully train them, teach them only the skills needed for the marketing project, letting existing staff handle other communications. Then, once the campaign is over, consider completing their training for all other call types and communication needs.
Also have a candid discussion with marketing about launch dates, addressing contingencies should a mail piece drop early or if delivery delays occur.
The Outcome When You Coordinate with Marketing
The result of following these recommendations is your call center and marketing working together for your organization’s common good and your callers’ welfare.
And it all starts when you coordinate with marketing.
Read more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s Healthcare Call Center Essentials, available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D., is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat and Medical Call Center News covering the healthcare call center industry. Get his book, Sticky Customer Service.