“In a very real sense, this book has been two decades in the making,” said DeHaan, “It started when I launched AnswerStat magazine in 2003. I’ve taken what I’ve learned about medical contact centers since then and combined it with a lifetime of call center experience to produce this book.”
In addition to writing and publishing magazines and books about the call center industry, DeHaan’s lifetime of experience includes managing a multi-location call center, employment with a call center vendor, and consultant for healthcare call centers, medical answering services, and telephone answering providers.
The result is the book Healthcare Call Center Essentials.
Healthcare Call Center Essentials is designed for those who want to manage a more effective medical contact center. From daily operations to long-term success, this essential guide will help readers create a thriving contact center that meets the urgent needs of both patients and the medical community.
In it, you can discover how to better manage your team and support achievable strategies to meet goals and support patients and healthcare centers. By implementing the strategies and tips in Healthcare Call Center Essentials, you can improve your daily systems and perfect your contact center operation.
In the call center industry, everyone’s
talking about providing quality transactions. Quality call center work helps
bring about quality healthcare outcomes, which starts with quality agent
One essential step to keep the
focus on quality is to have a quality assurance process. Most leading call
centers have a QA program in place. Others plan to add one. And some had one
but, in a rush to deal with the urgent, they put the practice on hold, which
they later pushed aside.
Last are those call centers that
don’t have a QA program, never did, and aren’t planning to. It’s time for this to
change. Every call center that cares about its callers needs to put quality at
the forefront of all they do, and a QA program is the surest way to accomplish that.
A QA program is a methodical system that regularly evaluates calls from each agent. These calls can be live or recorded. Regardless of the format, a trained quality professional evaluates each call according to established criteria. They then share the results with each agent, providing encouragement whenever possible, and offering constructive criticism when appropriate. The goal of a QA program stands to reinforce the positive and offer corrections to improve the not so great.
Successful QA programs have an established
process they follow without fail. And most programs have dedicated a trained
quality professional to administer the program. Conducting QA evaluations and
providing immediate feedback are generally this person’s sole responsibility.
To start a QA program or restart one
on hold, think small. This might be performing one call evaluation per agent
per month. As the process becomes fine-tuned and the practice becomes routine,
increase the frequency to twice a month and then weekly. Some established
robust QA programs evaluate their agents much more frequently.
In addition to dedicating a person to do QA evaluations, another key is to secure agent buy-in from the onset. This starts before launching the program and continues as a QA professional provides feedback to each agent. The goal of each feedback session is to celebrate what the agent did well. Make it a positive experience that they can anticipate. Then add one area to work on. Eventually, some calls won’t warrant any suggestions for improvement at all. And that’s the goal of a QA program.
Take Key Steps to Reduce Burnout and Increase Retention
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.
We hear a lot about work-life balance. This is extra challenging in the healthcare industry, as well as with call center work. The combination of these two areas in the medical call center results in a need to strive to achieve a work-life balance.
Doing so will help reduce employee burnout and increase retention of both management and frontline staff. Consider these areas:
Nurses and Frontline Staff
Strive to provide a separation between work and nonwork activities for all non-management staff. Employees in the office, taking calls are working. Nonwork time is when they’re not in the office taking calls. Don’t intrude on their non-work time.
This means not calling, texting, or emailing. Even if the interaction seems minimal, it sucks the employee back into a workplace mindset and detracts them from the nonwork activity they’re immersed in. Great bosses don’t do this.
Management and Administration
It’s harder for people in management to not take their work home, be it mentally or physically. Yet when they do, it intrudes on their nonwork reality and threatens to unbalance their life.
Managers, give supervisors and employees clear guidelines about when they should and shouldn’t contact you when you’re not in the office. Though you don’t want to shut yourself off from urgent communication, you also don’t want to open yourself to around-the-clock interruption.
Two key steps to aid in this are empowering on-site supervisors and establishing on-call staff. When implemented properly, these two functions can help shield management from work-related interruptions when they’re not working.
Most call centers have shift supervisors. Train and empower supervisors to make decisions on your behalf when you’re not in the office. That is when you’re not working and are attending to the rest of your life.
You may worry about the possibility of shift supervisors making an error in judgment. It will happen, but don’t view this as a mistake. Instead, consider it as a learning opportunity to equip them to perform their job with greater effectiveness.
Some call centers have management and administration rotate on-call responsibilities. In this way, the on-call person deals with all emergency and urgent situations that arise in the call center outside of regular business hours.
In doing so they shield all other management and administration from enduring work-related interruptions to their life.
Ideally, the on-site supervisors should be so well trained and fully empowered that they’ll never need to reach the on-call person with a question or problem. This is how it should be, but for those exceptions, it’s great to have a designated contact person to assist the shift supervisor.
True work-life balance may be an illusion that we’ll never reach, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Follow these steps to bring you and your staff closer to this important equilibrium.
When you do, you’ll increase their job satisfaction, minimize the risk of burnout, and increase their tenure at your medical call center.
And you’ll realize these same benefits for yourself.