Categories
Healthcare Call Centers

How a Medical Answering Service Can Improve Patient Satisfaction

Lessen Healthcare Frustrations

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Talk to just about anyone today about healthcare and they’ll voice frustrations.

Providers are frustrated that they’re hampered from giving the best care to patients. Patients are frustrated with the complexities of navigating the healthcare system and receiving the care they want.

They especially balk at automation that seeks to save costs but does so at the expense a personal interaction and what patients want.

All, however, is not lost. The venerable medical answering service can help alleviate this frustration and increase patient satisfaction in ways that have been proven over time.

Always Available

Medical answering services operate 24/7. They never close. This means they provide a round-the-clock telephone coverage. This includes daytime and evenings; weekdays and weekends; and even holidays.

Given this, when patients have a healthcare concern, they can talk to a real person anytime of the day or night. This produces patient satisfaction.

People listen. Technology can’t—not really.

People can ease frustrations. Technology causes angst more often than not.

Offer Empathy

Another thing people can do that technology can’t is to offer empathy. When we’re hurting, we want to be heard. A little bit of empathy goes a long way when we’re not feeling well or have a healthcare concern.

Though technology has the potential to mimic empathy, it usually comes across as disingenuous. But this is where people shine. The medical answering service—staffed by real people—excels at offering empathy and being sympathetic to the plight of patients when they call.

Provide Solutions

Medical answering services can do more than process phone calls. They can also help address certain patient requests.

Consider, for example, appointments. When the medical answering service is connected to a doctor’s appointment system, they can set appointments, change appointments, and reschedule appointments.

This serves patients better and saves the practice’s office from dealing with scheduling issues.

Conclusion

Don’t dismiss the respected medical answering service in a misguided effort to save money. Embrace them as a tool to help your practice shine and help increase patient satisfaction and reduced their frustrations.

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.

Categories
Healthcare Call Centers

Measuring Success in Healthcare Contact Centers

Top Metrics for Evaluating Performance and Efficacy

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Call centers have been around for decades, and the industry has an established set of proven metrics to measure overall performance and outcomes.

Let’s take a moment to review some of these top call center metrics to use in measuring success. Then consider how they apply to non-call interactions too.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

We’ll look at three categories of metrics: patient centric, agent performance, and scheduling, with three key considerations in each category.

Patient Centric Metrics

First Call Resolution: FCR or First Call Resolution measures the percentage of inquiries that are resolved on the first contact. No patient wants to call back and no agent wants to receive those calls. Do it right the first time.

That’s what matters most, especially in healthcare where patient frustration levels are increasing and not decreasing. Now take this concept and apply it to all your other contact channels.

Abandonment Rate: Another patient-focused metric is abandonment rate. It looks at the percentage of callers who give up before speaking to an agent.

They hang up in frustration because the agent takes longer than they expect. A low abandonment rate signals better customer service performance.

Just as with FCR, give the same attention to your abandonment rate on your text chat channel and with any other real-time interactions.

Customer Satisfaction: C-SAT, which stands for Customer Satisfaction, seeks to quantify patients’ overall satisfaction level after they interact with you.

It can be measured through post-call surveys to assess the overall customer experience. This works equally well regardless of the communication channel used.

A key consideration, however, is to not ask too soon.

For example, a C-SAT survey tacked on to the end of a call often asks for feedback before the patient can give an informed answer. When this occurs, they’ll guess, but you’ll never know.

Agent Performance Metrics

Average Handle Time: AHT measures the average time for an agent to handle a call, from start to finish. This includes agent talk time, hold time, and post-call work.

A low AHT suggests an efficient operation, but balance this with maintaining your patient-centric metrics, as a too low AHT will increase patient frustration.

Average Speed of Answer: ASA looks at the average time agents take to answer calls. A lower ASA reflects better call center efficiency and more satisfied callers.

Quality Assurance: QA evaluations measure the quality of patient-agent interaction. This may be done by a person or automated through technology.

Keep in mind that this occurs independent of the patient and merely addresses what the call center thinks is important to the patient.

Schedule Metrics

Adherence: This metric confirms how well agents follow their schedule. Full adherence ensures agents are present when they’re supposed to be.

Occupancy: Occupancy tracks the percentage of time agents spend handling calls and patient-related activities. It looks at work time versus idle time.

Strive to keep agents comfortably busy without overwhelming them, which only leads to burnout.

Availability: This stat measures how much of the time agents are ready, or available, to interact with patients and callers.

Agent availability is within the control of agents, determined by their willingness to be ready to communicate with patients.

Measuring Success Conclusion

Review these nine standard call center metrics and consider which ones you need to give more attention to. Then determine how to apply these concepts to all your communication channels.

This is the best way to help you in measuring success.

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.

Categories
Healthcare Call Centers

Does Your Medical Call Center Need a New Name?

Consider an Internal Rebranding as a Strategic Initiative This Year

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Functionally you may label your operation as a medical call center, a healthcare contact center, or a medical answering service. This identifier may or may not be included in the name of your operation.

Regardless, it might be time to develop a new label. Though this could include a rebranding for marketing purposes, what I’m suggesting is rebranding yourself internally.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

In internal rebranding accomplishes two things.

First, an internal rebranding allows you to refocus your attention on the work you do, the needs of your community, and your strategic plans.

Each one of these initiatives must build upon a core foundation of knowing who you are and what you do. Without first establishing this framework, whatever house you built on it will not be stable.

Second, internal rebranding allows you to reposition your operation to the rest of your organization.

Most people outside of call centers don’t think highly of them. In most instances this includes the rest of your organization: corporate, sales and marketing, accounting, tech support, and healthcare staff.

Few of them recognize the key role you and your staff play in facilitating healthcare-related communications between patients and your organization. It’s time to reposition yourself from a cost center to a central communications hub.

Of course, to have any significant impact, this internal rebranding must run parallel with a fresh attitude, an invigorated perspective, and an increase in professionalism in all that you do.

Don’t let others look down on you because you’re “just the call center.” Instead, reinvent yourself with a new label. And to get your creativity flowing, here are ten ideas to consider or build upon:

Cast a vision for what you want your operation to become and be known for. Move away from being “just the call center,” and embark on an internal rebranding effort to reposition your operation.

This will heighten your staff’s self-esteem and enhance the rest of your organization’s perception of you.

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.

Categories
Healthcare Call Centers

Finish This Year Strong

How We Conclude One Year Prepares Us for the Next

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

How has this year been in your healthcare call center? I suspect you’re ready for it to end. Though you may feel that way every year, the magnitude may be more pronounced this year.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

All the rapid changes and stressors in the healthcare industry pile on additional burdens on the call centers that support them. Practitioners expect you to do more, and patients want you to do it better.

You’re stuck in the middle. In addition, there are staffing issues, employee compensation expectations, and budget constraints.

In situations like these the tenancy is often to merely hold on for the rest of the year and enjoy whatever holiday respite you can squeeze out. You won’t think about—or worry about—next year until the time comes.

But I encourage you to do just the opposite.

Strive to finish this year strong. Though you may feel like coasting, don’t. Continue the momentum you have behind you to make the most of this year’s remaining days. This will best set you up for success next year. Doesn’t everyone want that?

Here are some ideas to help you finish this year strong:

Enjoy This Season

Though your work is important, it’s not everything. At least it shouldn’t be. Take time to enjoy this holiday season in your nonwork moments. And whenever you have the opportunity, enjoy the holidays at work too.

Remember the adage about all work and no play. Don’t be that person.

Thank Your Staff

Just because Thanksgiving in the United States has passed, doesn’t mean the time of being thankful is behind us. Take the time to thank your staff. Be intentional.

In a job that is short on appreciation and too often focused on criticism, a heartfelt thank you can go a long way to let your staff know you care.

Smile whenever you can. Do this even when you don’t feel like it—especially if you don’t feel like it. Smiles are contagious. Never forget that. Let your countenance communicate your thankfulness throughout the day, even when you don’t say the words.

Celebrate Your Stakeholders

Remember why you do the work you do. It’s to help others in better addressing their healthcare needs and making their life better. Without them you wouldn’t have a job. Don’t forget to celebrate them.

The patients and callers who contact you every day are your biggest group of stakeholders.

Yes, they may be crabby at times and occasionally critical. But use this as a reminder to know how important the services you provide are to them and their lives. After all, if what you did for them didn’t matter, they wouldn’t care how you did it.

Your stakeholders also include your boss, your employer, and your organization—be it a for profit business or a nonprofit entity. These are all stakeholders in your call center operation. Celebrate them, all of them.

Wrap Up What You Can

As you go about these initiatives, look at your project list. Surely you won’t be able to finish them all this year but resist the urge to let them all carry forward to next.

Each thing you can knock off this year is one less thing on your plate for next. And won’t that be a relief knowing that it won’t be hanging over your head in the coming twelve months?

Conclusion

To finish this year strong, remember to first enjoy the season. As you do, thank your staff, and celebrate your stakeholders. Last wrap up whatever pending projects you can so that they don’t dog you into next year.

When you take these steps, you’ll be poised to finish this year strong, paving the way for success next year.

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.

Categories
Healthcare Call Centers

Is Your Call Center Centralized?

A Decentralized Call Center Is an Oxymoron

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

In the early days of our industry, the label call center fit perfectly. We handled calls from a central location. This was necessitated by the platform we used, which we installed in our office. It consisted of physical hardware to switch calls and network our computers.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Centralized

The physical limitations of our call center equipment required that all agent stations be onsite. It was impractical, if not impossible, to connect an offsite workstation.

Because of this configuration, both our practices and management styles emerged from the idea of everyone working as a team from a centralized operations room.

Though calls could originate from anywhere, they all ended up in one place. Our staff handled them with ease and effectiveness. It was efficient and easy to manage.

Multilocation

With the advent of the internet, it became possible to connect a second location to the centralized telephone platform. Though the offsite agent experience was often not as fast or as reliable as its onsite counterpart, it did, nonetheless, allow for the first wave of a decentralized call center to occur.

This simple change, however, revealed some weaknesses in how we did business.

First, managing staff in two locations required a different management style. The informal—yet proven—management-by-walking-around approach was great in a centralized environment.

Yet not being able to be in two places at once, the manager effectively ignored the staff at the other location. Though some employees worked well without direct in-person oversight, others did not. Too often quality struggled and productivity dropped.

The other issue was out of sight, out of mind. Leaving a box of donuts in the break room as a “thank you” to the staff, dismissed the employees at the second location.

The proven communication technique of posting notices on a physical bulletin board ignored staff at the second site.

And holding an office potluck became more problematic, resulting in further division as opposed to enhancing comradery. Too often, an us-versus-them mentality emerged between two sparring locations.

Yet over time, wise managers adjusted their management style and operational practices to equally embrace employees at both locations.

Home Based

As hosted systems, also called SaaS (Software as a Service), became available, the longstanding dream of many a manager at last became a viable reality.

What was this grand vision? A truly distributed workforce where every employee could work at a different location, such as their own home. In truth, any location with a stable internet connection could become an effective remote agent station.

Though some resisted this opportunity, citing HIPAA and data security concerns, others already had procedures in place to effectively deal with this. And when the pandemic hit, forcing many call centers to close or pivot, some easily switched to a 100 percent home-based operation.

Hybrid

Though some call centers today continue to operate solely in one of these three operational models, most take a hybrid approach.

In this fully decentralized call center model, some staff work in a central office, other employees operate from a second location, and still others work from their home offices. This allows for the greatest efficiency and flexibility.

In this way, our operation benefits, our organization benefits, and our patients and callers benefit. Having a distributed operation is an ideal situation, even if we still refer to it as a call center.

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.

Categories
Healthcare Call Centers

6 Keys to Produce a Happy and Effective Workforce

Address These Critical Items to Better Retain Staff and Serve Callers

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Operating a successful call center in the healthcare industry is hard. There is a never-ending tension to balance the expectations of patients and callers with the needs of operational staff, all the while remaining fiscally viable.

Author and blogger Peter Lyle DeHaan

Here are six tips to help you produce a happy and effective workforce to keep your operation running smoothly and efficiently.

Compensation Package

I’ve never talked with anyone who thinks they’re overpaid. And only a few people ever think they receive appropriate pay. Most think they deserve more.

Ask any call center employee what’s most important to them in their work and they’ll likely say their compensation. They work to earn money so they can cover their needs and wants.

Though their actual paycheck is a big part of their compensation package, they’re also looking for other benefits such as healthcare coverage and provisions for time off, including vacation, sick days, and personal time.

Though you could bust your budget trying to provide the compensation package your employees think they deserve and expect you to provide, you don’t need to do so if you address other less tangible workplace related items.

Provide a competitive compensation package, along with covering the next five items will help you produce a happy and effective workforce.

Managerial Support

Employees want to feel the support of their supervisors and managers. This starts with listening to what they say and showing them you care.

Let them know you understand what it’s like to answer phone calls all day long. You do know this, right? When they see you periodically sit down and take calls like the rest of them, it will do much to garner their attention and gain their respect.

Appreciation

Most managers say they appreciate their staff. But how often do they take the time to actually tell their employees? How often do they do things to show it?

This doesn’t need to be anything expensive or spectacular. I once had a boss who each payday would look me in the eye, hand me my paycheck, and say, “thank you.” He did this for every employee.

Though I was too often frustrated with him in other areas, I had no doubt he appreciated me and my work.

Though this might be hard to implement if your call center operates 24/7, look for creative ways to produce the same results. And if your staff receives their pay and documentation electronically, look for other opportunities to make eye contact and sincerely say, “thank you.”

Scheduling

Appropriately staffing a call center is a tricky issue. You need to have the right number of people working to efficiently handle the calls and other communications that come in.

If you don’t have enough people present, those who are there will end their shift exhausted, frazzled, and frustrated. Yet if you have too many people working, your labor costs will escalate, and you’ll be over budget.

Seek to find a scheduling balance that doesn’t overwork your staff or tax your budget. When developing a schedule be considerate of the needs of your employees.

If they rely on public transportation to get to work, don’t schedule them on days or times when they’ll have trouble getting to work or making it home. If they go to school, be sure to work around their schedule.

Workload

Call center employees who move continuously from one call to the next throughout their entire shift are less likely—and less able—to give their best to every caller every time.

They’ll soon grow immune to the number of calls in queue and plod through their day from one call to the next. Yet if they have too much idle time between calls, they’ll become bored, and their focus will wane. This doesn’t provide for good customer service either.

Instead, strive to develop a schedule that will give your call center staff a balanced workload that is just right, neither too busy nor too slow. It will make their shift go by quicker and produce better results.

Shared Vision

The final item, having a shared vision, is by no means the least important. In fact, when you and your call center staff share a compelling vision about what you’re doing and what you want to accomplish, the first five points on this list become not as important.

This doesn’t mean you can ignore those items, but when you have a shared vision with your staff, they may be a bit more open to overlooking shortcomings in other areas.

Produce a Happy and Effective Workforce

Though it takes work to produce a happy and effective workforce for your call center, it can happen. Follow these six tips to move you closer to achieving that goal.

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.

Categories
Healthcare Call Centers

Call Center or Contact Center?

Technology Provides More Communication Channels to Serve Patients Better

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

The label of call center referencing outward-facing communications is an historically accurate term. At one time it handled calls from a central location. Hence, we formed a descriptively accurate name of call center.

But many call centers have moved beyond calls to embrace a more inclusive descriptor of contacts. It’s likely your operation has too or plans to do so.

Author and blogger Peter Lyle DeHaan

Here are some of the communication channels available to call centers:

Telephone Calls

Yes, calls still make up the bulk of contacts for most operations. While older generations tend to prefer phone calls and younger generations tend to avoid them, the complex nature of healthcare communications often makes the telephone the most efficient and effective communication channel. This will continue to be the case until a channel emerges that’s more efficient and effective.

Text Chat

Overall, younger demographics like to text. As such, text chat has emerged as a channel of choice for many consumers, and a preferred channel for many contact centers. It’s easier to juggle multiple text chats than phone calls. Also, whereas phone callers hope to not be placed on hold and expect immediate interaction, text chat users tolerate—and even accept—some short communication lags.

Email

While text chat is a preferred channel for many, email remains the go-to-choice for others. Though futurists continue to predict its demise, email has persisted as a default communication channel. Email shines in its ability to facilitate longer and more complex communications.

A benefit of email is that its users expect time delays. This allows email to dovetail nicely into an operation’s workflow mixing the real-time expectation for phone calls and the near-time expectation for text chat. Even so, email users will not tolerate a long delay. A few hours is an acceptable interval, with same-day response being the minimum expectation.

Social Media

A fourth channel consideration is social media. For some users it’s their default communication option. Though most healthcare-related communications are inappropriate for social media, providers should still monitor it to be aware of requests and handle what they can on social media. For overtures that carry a privacy concern, social media can still serve as an initial contact point, which can then more appropriately migrate to another channel.

Summary

Though many still think of a call center as handling phone calls, we must embrace an expanded vision of processing other communication channels. This includes text chat, email, and social media. And we must stand poised to embrace future channels as they develop.

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.

Categories
Healthcare Call Centers

Call Center Stakeholder Integration

Connect with Critical Groups Who Often Go Overlooked

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

As we wrap up our five-part series, Integrate Your Call Center, our fourth consideration is stakeholder integration. (If you want to review, the other three are Integrate Your Call Center Staff, Integrate Your Call Center Tools, and Integrate with Your Organization.)

Author and blogger Peter Lyle DeHaan

When we integrate our call center with our stakeholders, this means a better information flow between you and other groups that are ancillary to the call center but also integral to success. Here are some items to consider when it comes to integrating with your stakeholders.

Vendors

First up for stakeholder integration is your vendors and suppliers. They are critical to your call center success, so it’s critical to have a good relationship with them. I’ve been on both sides of adversarial vendor-call center relationships, and the results are never good. For this reason, I always strive for mutually supportive, win-win interactions.

When you lift your vendors up, they’ll lift you up. And if you tear your vendors down, your operation is apt to suffer as a result. Seek interactions and solutions that are in your mutual self-interest. Your positivity will be rewarded.

And when difficulties arise—which they invariably will—seek to work with your vendors to find a solution rather than harass or threaten them. Remember, patience goes both ways.

Investors

Whether you’re part of a for-profit or nonprofit organization, someone has invested money in your operation, and they expect a return on that investment (ROI). If the call center fails to provide the return they expect, they’ll close it down and outsource the work. In a worst-case scenario, the organization will go out of business and close their doors. Either way, all those calls center jobs will be lost.

Yes, it’s the owners of your operation that control the purse strings. They are the ones who can say no to your funding requests. But they are not your enemy, so it’s important to have a good working relationship with them.

Call center investors and owners are the second source of stakeholder integration.

Staff

We’ve already talked about the importance of cross training when it comes to integrating your staff, yet call center employees are also stakeholders. They can be appreciative of their employers or hostile towards them. While this is a choice they decide, management plays a critical role in how well they’re integrated into the mission of the organization.

Key elements include their compensation package, managerial support, and how appreciated they feel for the work they do. Other areas are scheduling, workload, and a sense of a shared vision.

If they’re unhappy they’ll vent their frustrations with their coworkers, their family and friends, and potentially everyone who calls. Since they talk to a lot of people every day, a disgruntled telephone agent can harm your brand and hamper your objectives in quick order.

Thankfully, the opposite is also true. When they’re treated right, they’re much more apt to be happy and satisfied with their work. Then they’ll likewise let other people know, and their work will show it.

Conclusion

When it comes to making your call center the best it can be, be sure to include your stakeholders and integrate them into your operation. Though these groups often go overlooked, they are critical to your success. Don’t overlook stakeholder integration.

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.

Categories
Healthcare Call Centers

New Skills for Today’s Agents

Hire Staff with the Abilities That Today’s Consumers Need and Expect

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

There was a time when hiring managers looked for three key skills in their call center applicants: a pleasant and understandable telephone voice, good spelling, and neat penmanship. Yes, legible writing was key because everything was handwritten.

Then computers arrived and the penmanship requirement was replaced with typing skills. Today these three capabilities remain important, but we need to add more to our list.

Internet Awareness

We may assume that everyone today knows how to use the internet, navigate websites, and appropriately deal with problems that occur online. Yet we shouldn’t assume this is the case. Instead, test applicants to verify this skill.

I recently talked to a rep who admitted to being confused in navigating her company’s own website. As you can imagine, she wasn’t able to help me.

Social Media Experience

In the same way, today’s call center agents need to be comfortable using social media. And most applicants are. But don’t assume this is always the case. Therefore, it’s important to test them to make sure they have a working knowledge of the social media platforms your organization uses.

Even if their role won’t directly involve communicating with patients and customers on social media, your staff should know how to navigate your social media pages. This way they’ll be ready to assist your clientele if needed—and assume that at some point it will be needed.

Texting and Email Ability

Next, your agents need to know how to compose professional and comprehensible messages for text and email. Using slang and emojis may be fine in casual settings, but it has no place in the healthcare industry. The same applies with spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Test applicants to ensure their written communication is an asset to your organization and not a detriment to it. Failure to do so will result in misunderstandings and reflect badly on you as a healthcare provider or support service.

Video Ready

As we discussed in the benefits and disadvantages of video calling, we need to hire staff with video in mind. Even if you don’t currently use video in your operation, it’s likely that you will soon. Your employees need to be comfortable in front of a camera.

They must communicate effectively through their body language, in addition to the words they use and their tone. Though their words and tone are all they need when it comes to voice and written communication, video adds the nonverbal component, which is critical for effective communication to take place.

Hire staff that’s video ready—and willing.

Conclusion

In addition to hiring employees with a pleasant and understandable telephone voice, spelling proficiency, and typing accuracy, make sure they possess internet awareness, social media experience, texting and email ability, and are video ready.

This will provide you with a staff poised to help today’s patients and contacts.

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.

Categories
Healthcare Call Centers

Integrate with Your Organization

Don’t Stay in Your Silo or Function in Isolation

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

I once needed to call a company in the healthcare sector. With their call center I encountered long wait times, surly representatives, and little help in resolving my dilemma. I made many unsuccessful phone calls.

Author and blogger Peter Lyle DeHaan

At last, one rep transferred me to a different department. My experience with that call center was the opposite of the first one.

The employee answered quickly, was cheerful, and offered help. In one phone call, lasting but a couple of minutes, she resolved my concern. I thanked her for her helpful resolution and remarked how difficult it was to get to her department.

Her response took me aback.

“No one knows we exist,” she laughed. “We’re our company’s best kept secret.”

It seems she worked in a silo within her organization. Her silo functioned wonderfully, in contrast to the organization’s primary call center. What made the difference? I assume it was management, but that’s a topic for another time.

Today’s discussion is about integrating your call center with the rest of your organization.

It’s Us Instead of Them

When you integrate with your organization you move away from the mindset of us referring to the call center and them referring to the rest of the organization.

Instead, everyone in the company becomes us.

Making this mental switch is key. Without it, any plans to integrate with your organization will not succeed. Embracing a holistic us mentality is the first step to successfully integrate with your organization.

It’s Focusing on Others Instead of Self

As you make this mindset shift, you also shift your focus. By redefining us to include the entire organization, you encompass a greater set of employees who can band together to serve patients and callers. Isn’t that why your organization exists? To help patients and callers? To best accomplish this the focus must be on callers and what you can do—with your whole company behind you—to best address their concerns or needs.

It’s a Team Approach

This reformed focus embraces a team approach to problem solving. The goal isn’t to make yourself look good or even your whole department. The goal is to work as a team to make your organization look good. When you do this you and your company win, and—more importantly —so do your patients and callers.

Implementation

This grand vision to integrate with your organization is easier to visualize than to realize.

Though you can start it from within your call center, it will take time to permeate through your entire organization. It’s easier when the initiative comes from the C-suite. And, of course, some managers will resist this change. But this reveals their selfishness.

They’re more concerned about maintaining the status quo than about what’s best for the organization and your customers.

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.