Healthcare Call Centers

Please Hold While I Disconnect You

By Peter DeHaan, PhD

The rate of success of agents transferring calls is often poor. Based on my experience, successful transfers occur less than half the time. In addition to being disconnected, there problems are being transferred to the wrong extension or being put on endless hold. To help here are some common sense, but overlooked steps:

Peter DeHaan, Publisher and Editor of AnswerStat

Training: The proper transfer procedure must be covered in training. Have the trainee experience transfers from the perspectives of the caller and the recipient, as well as the agent. Doing so gives them a better understanding how errors occur and affect others.

Practice: To master any skill, it must be practiced until it becomes second nature. For agents who don’t frequently transfer calls, ongoing practice is advisable.

Consistency: Most switches provide multiple ways to transfer calls. Pick the most universally applicable method and teach it to all agents. Get the trainers to concur that this standard method will be taught — and no others. Then discourage agents from using other processes or shortcuts.

Methodology: Pick one call transferring philosophy:

  • A blind transfer is the quickest, but least professional: the agent dials the number, connects the caller, and hangs up before the call is answered.
  • In an announced transfer, the agent dials the number, tells the recipient about the call, connects the caller, and hangs up.
  • A confirmed transfer goes one step further, in which the agent stays connected just long enough to insure that the recipient can address the caller’s needs.

Verify: Transfer lists need to be periodically checked — by physically dialing them. Frequent verification is the only way to purge wrong numbers and ensure accurate information for the agents.

First-Call Resolution: If you pursue first-call resolution, the need to transfer callers is greatly reduced. Perhaps that is the best solution of all.

Read more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s Healthcare Call Center Essentials, available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat and Medical Call Center News covering the healthcare call center industry. Read his latest book, Sticky Customer Service.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.