Meeting the two essential elements of a contact is just the first step
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
It doesn’t matter if a call is answered in a modern contact center staffed with a team of trained professionals or by one weary person in a single-phone department. In both cases patients and callers evaluate their phone interactions in the same way, and they expect the same outcomes. Regardless of the circumstances, they compare each call with every other call and judge it accordingly. It matters not who took the call or the technology behind it.
Contact Essentials: At a basic level, patients look for two things when they contact you.
First, they want to accomplish their objective, the reason for their call. This may be to schedule an appointment, follow up on test results, or clarify discharge instructions. Or they might be calling because of a medical concern, hoping to talk to a triage nurse or find out if they should head to the ER. In short, they have a need, call you, and expect to accomplish their objective.
Second, though they may not realize it, they subconsciously want a positive feeling about the call. Do they perceive their need was met? Are they satisfied with the outcome? Do they sense they were treated with respect?
Together these two characteristics combine to result in effectiveness. An effective call is a phone interaction where the patient’s purpose is accomplished, and they hang up pleased with the interaction. However, too often contact centers meet callers’ objectives but leave them frustrated in the process.
Effective Call: Being effective means the caller’s reason for calling is addressed, and the customer is pleased. A rating of effective sets the minimum expectations for a contact center. This establishes the center’s service baseline.
Ineffective Call: Calls that aren’t effective are failures. This means the callers’ objectives weren’t accomplished, or they weren’t satisfied with the results. Too many organizations run contact centers that are not effective. Wrong information is given; errors are not corrected; callbacks don’t happen; and repeated calls occur, with no movement toward resolution.
Beyond Effective: However, other contact centers offer the other extreme. They start with effective and then offer more. Their staff is professional, accurate, and consistent. They excel at being empathetic with callers, and they aim for first call resolution.
Whether you have one phone or hundreds of agents, first ensure you are effective in handling calls. Then strive to become more than effective. Become everything your callers hope for when they contact you. Then everyone wins.
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.