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Healthcare Call Centers

Go Beyond the Call  

Seek Ways to Solve Caller’s Pain Points

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

As a medical call center your job is to answer healthcare-related calls and respond to each one efficiently. Yet what if this isn’t what the patient needs? To paraphrase and old saying, sometimes we can win the battle but lose the war. That’s why we need to go beyond the call.

Being efficient sometimes gets in the way of truly winning. Call centers have a lot of metrics to track. These help us quantify results, but they may not measure outcomes. We need to find a balance between efficiency and patient-centric results.

Here are some ideas:

Offer Empathy

Sometimes callers need to know you heard them just as much as they need their issue addressed. This requires listening and offering empathy. Correcting a caller’s issue but doing so abruptly or without listening to them leaves the caller more frustrated than satisfied.

To you, they are one more call in a busy day. But to them you may be the most important call they’ll make all day.

Pursue Resolution

Other times what a patient asks for isn’t what they need—not really. Yet a passive-aggressive response results in answering the question, while not resolving the problem.

For example, a patient might ask for the web address of your online portal so they can check the results of a recent test. You give them the address because that’s what they asked for. Yet you know the results they want won’t be available for at least another day. Do you tell them that, even though it’s not what they asked? Can you suggest a different method for them to get the results quicker?

Anticipate Problems

Let’s say a patient calls to verify the location of where they need to go for an appointment with a specialist. You give them the address.

They didn’t ask about parking, but you know that’s an issue that frustrates many people. So, you can go the extra mile and let them know where they should park and how much time to allow themselves so they can arrive at the specialist’s office without being frazzled or out of breath.

Stay on the Line

Back to our caller who asked for the web address. You can give it to them and get off the call. Or you can give it to them and stay on the line to see if they have any more questions. Maybe they wrote it down wrong. If you’re still connected, you can clarify it, instead of making them call back a second time.

Or you can help them navigate the site, offering a quick tip that will save several minutes of frustration on their part. The point is, don’t end the call prematurely. If you think they’ll need help, the best approach may be to stick around.

Putting These Tips into Practice

You may acknowledge that while these are insightful ideas, they’re not practical for your busy call center and that you can’t afford to implement them. But recall the concept of winning the battle and losing the war.

That means the better perspective is that perhaps you can’t afford not to.

Think about it.

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.

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Healthcare Call Centers

Channel Specialization versus Multichannel Proficiency

Effectively Handle Communication Channels in a Medical Contact Center

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

In the last issue of AnswerStat we looked at the need for multichannel integration in your healthcare contact center to better serve patients and produce superior outcomes. We considered this from a systems standpoint. Now let’s look at multichannel from an agent and operational perspective, specifically channel specialization versus multichannel proficiency.

Ideally you want every agent trained and fully proficient to handle communication on any channel option that comes in, be it voice, text, email, video, social media, and so forth. Some agents relish being proficient on all channels, while others prefer to specialize. A contact center needs both types of agents.

Channel Specialization

An agent that specializes in one channel, for instance telephone calls, will develop a higher level of effectiveness by focusing on that one channel. Through repetition they’ll gain an enhanced level of skill through their specialization.

This will enable them to move from one call to another with greater speed and increased efficacy. In short, they’ll get more done faster.

But they must also be cross trained on other channels. There are two reasons for this.

One is in the event of a telephone call that needs to switch channels, such as to move to video or email to better facilitate effective communication.

In this instance you don’t want an agent with a telephone channel specialization handing the call off to a video or email specialist. Instead, you want the original agent to move with the patient or caller to the new channel.

The second reason you want agents cross trained is so they can switch to a different channel if there’s a need to do so. This could occur with an increased amount of traffic in a channel different from the one they specialize in.

Without this cross training, you could end up with specialists in one channel sitting idle while specialists in another channel struggle to keep up.

Though you have agents that specialize in one channel and mostly work in that area, they must be ready and willing to jump to another channel when the situation requires it.

Multichannel Proficiency

Other agents would find channel specialization to be quite boring. They relish being proficient on many channels, even on every channel your healthcare contact center handles. They enjoy the variety that comes from interacting with patients on various channels.

These multi-channel agents can handle patient contacts on any channel as needed, whenever needed.

This allows them to switch between real-time communication (telephone and video calls) depending on the traffic demands at any moment. Yet at the same time they are equally proficient at processing non-real-time communication (email, text, and social media) as required.

This means they can effectively work in the channel where they’re most needed.

Specialists and Generalists

While channel specialization is good for some agents and multichannel proficiency is ideal for others, this mix of channel focus is also essential for your contact center. Just like with healthcare, a contact center needs both specialists and generalists.

The specialists can concentrate on one channel, reaching a level of effectiveness that a generalist could never achieve. Yet a generalist is effective at quickly and easily migrating from one channel to another.

Though every agent in your contact center should be cross trained to handle any channel, determine which area is the best for each agent, channel specialization or multichannel proficiency. You need both.

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.

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Healthcare Call Centers

Tips to Deal with Angry Callers

Prepare How to Best Handle Abusive Callers

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

People today, it seems, are more demanding and less tolerant than they once were. They want immediate answers and have little patience to wait. And this unfortunate trend may be even more pronounced when speaking to someone over the telephone. This is the reality of angry callers that our medical call centers must deal with.

Here are some strategies to address this troubling issue:

Tips For Management

Determining an appropriate response to angry callers starts with call center leadership. Implement these ideas for your call center or organization to support your frontline people when they encounter a difficult phone call:

Have a Plan

Develop a written strategy for how agents should best respond to and deal with angry callers. This goes beyond well-sounding platitudes and should offer practical, actionable steps. This includes recommendations for how agents should react to volatile callers and the options you recommend for them to deal with the aftermath.

Communicate the Plan

Share your strategy with your staff. Teach it during their initial training, reinforce it in ongoing instruction, and make it readily available to all parties: your frontline staff, your supervisors, and your managers.

Support Your Staff

Let your staff know that you care how they are treated. The off-repeated adage that “the customer is always right” isn’t always true. Sometimes callers are wrong, unreasonable, or mean. Let your agents know that you have their back.

Offer Options

In most instances, when an agent hangs up from one phone call, there’s another one waiting in queue. The goal, in normal situations, is for the agent to immediately go to the next call. But after an extremely difficult interaction, they may not be at their best to assist the next caller right away.

Give them options to take in extreme cases. Else they risk turning one bad call into a string of bad calls. One idea is allowing them to take themselves out of rotation for a moment to regain their composure. Extreme cases may warrant taking an early break. Just place appropriate guidelines on when these steps are applicable.

Tips For Agents

I hope your call center has provided instruction and tools to help you deal with angry callers who won’t calm down. Always follow their policy.

But if you’re in a position without the needed direction, here are some ideas you can use to better cope with abusive callers. Exercise care, however, to use these sparingly, especially as you move down the list.

Also, your organization may have given you variations on these techniques, so follow their processes. And don’t be alarmed if your call center prohibits one or more of these options, particularly the last one. Know that they have a good reason for doing so. Respect it and follow their wishes.

Lower Your Voice

It’s in our nature to raise our voice in response to someone who raises theirs. This just escalates the situation. Instead do the opposite. Talk more softly. They’re apt to do the same. And even if they don’t, it will calm you.

Take Five

Sometimes a five-second respite at the conclusion of a phone call can help. Close your eyes, inhale slowly, exhale slowly, and quiet your emotions. Do a shoulder roll to release tension.

Press Hold

When a caller escalates out of control, place them on hold under the guise of needing to check something. Maybe you actually do, and you’ll be able to accomplish it more effectively if they aren’t venting their anger in the process. But even if you don’t need to check something, use this time to refocus yourself. Hopefully, they’ll calm down a bit as well. Just make sure you politely and patiently explain to them that you will place them on hold before pressing that button.

Pass Off the Call

Do you have a supervisor or manager who can help you deal with difficult callers? Sometimes your coworker sitting next to you can serve as an ad hoc “supervisor” to take a difficult caller that you’re not connecting with. Of course, be willing to do the same when they have a difficult conversation of their own.

Know That It’s Not Personal

Most angry callers are mad at your organization, and they take it out on you as its representative. Know that their frustration isn’t personally directed at you. This understanding puts a buffer between their emotions and your self-esteem. Though this is easier to say than to do, acknowledging that their anger isn’t personal may help you take an emotional step back from a volatile situation.

But Sometimes It Is Personal

Sometimes, however, an angry caller becomes abusive and attacks you personally. They may call you a name, question your intelligence, or worse. These direct attacks sting. It becomes personal. You can’t separate yourself from their emotion because they just verbally assaulted you.

If this occurs and none of the above options help, you’re justified in telling the caller that their behavior is inappropriate. Explain that you want to help, but until they calm down you won’t be able to. If they persist, warn them that you’ll need to disconnect their call. If they don’t soften their demeanor, hang up on them.

Conclusion

Though you can do little to change how abusive callers treat you, you do have control over how you respond. Follow these ideas to help you successfully move forward.

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.

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Healthcare Call Centers

Multi-Channel Integration

Serve Patients Better and Produce Superior Outcomes

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Some healthcare call centers only handle telephone calls by design and others do it because that’s what they’ve always done. But most have embraced a contact center mindset, where they’re handling more than telephone calls.

Channel Options

This can include email, text messaging, and web chat. They may also incorporate social media monitoring and response.

There is also an opportunity with video. Integrating video communications into the call center has received much theoretical attention for a couple of decades, with proponents predicting it would be only a year or two out. We are, at last, moving from potential to possible.

Over the past two years many people have become more comfortable talking to a camera to communicate with someone far away. Though not everyone embraced this as an acceptable alternative to in-person meetings, they did, however, become more comfortable using it and less resistant to the technology.

This prepares people for the option of video chatting with their healthcare provider, nurse triage operation, or medical call center. These are exciting times for patients and their healthcare call centers.

Channel Switching

All these options, however, will inevitably lead to patients using multiple communication channels to accomplish their task, depending on what’s available at the time or what will achieve their goal the fastest.

What could start as a telephone call could switch to video for face-to-face interaction. In the same way, a text message chain could migrate to the telephone or a social media post to email. The only limit to the sequences is our creativity.

Yet regardless of the scenario, one key issue remains paramount. Each channel must integrate with all the others, allowing information to effortlessly pass from one option to another. We must eliminate isolated silos of information that don’t communicate with each other. We need full multi-channel integration.

This usually falls to the platform vendor. If you use a singular system to handle all communication channels, you’re one step closer to making multi-channel integration a reality. Though harder, integration between disparate systems can also occur. It just requires more effort on the part of the respective vendors to pull off.

Multi-Channel Integration

Here’s what you can do to move things forward to enjoy multi-channel integration.

Educate Staff

Make sure your front-line employees know what they must do to allow for the smoothest information handoff as patients move from one channel to another. If your staff doesn’t do their part correctly, the decree of integration won’t matter.

Test Your System

Make a contact on one channel as a patient would. Then switch channels and see what happens. Is your text messaging exchange accessible by the telephone rep when you switch to voice? Or do you need to start over and re-state the same information?

Test this in each combination of channels possible, regardless of how unlikely it seems to you that anyone would ever make that switch. Know that someone will.

Identify Weaknesses

As you conduct your field test of switching channels, look for three things. Identify what works well, what somewhat works, and what doesn’t work at all. Celebrate the areas of success, seek ways to shore up the areas that have limitations, and note what doesn’t work at all.

Encourage Your Vendor

Armed with this information, approach your vendor, not in a confrontational manner, but with a positive, let’s-work-together attitude to move toward full multi-channel integration.

Conclusion

Multi-channel integration is what your patients expect. It’s what they deserve. Start now to move toward this outcome.

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.

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Healthcare Call Centers

Celebrate Medical Call Center Agents

Look for Ways to Applaud Customer Service and Patient Care Excellence

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Working in a call center is challenging. Working in a medical call center is even harder, especially given what we’ve had to deal with in the past couple of years. The result has been rapid changes, often in quick succession, trying to adapt to an ever- moving set of expectations and criteria.

Perhaps never before have call centers had to push so hard and to do so much for so long.

Throughout this all, the venerable call center agent adapts, presses through, and produces success in some of the most challenging situations. Here are areas where you can applaud the work of your medical call center agents.

Celebrate Customer Service Success

What some might see as a day-to-day grind and a call-by-call repetition, astute call center agents see as a continual set of opportunities to provide customer service excellence. Acknowledge your leading agents who have this attitude. Strive to catch them doing something right and celebrate their outstanding work. Do this in public and in private.

Celebrate Patient Care Excellence

Medical call center agents play a key—but frequently unrecognized—role in the patient-care continuum. They often stand as a patient’s or future patient’s first point of contact, smoothly ushering them into the organization’s healthcare system. And in growing instances, these same agents serve as a concluding point of contact as the patient wraps up a specific healthcare incident. And sometimes, the agents serve critical functions throughout the provision of healthcare to maintain or facilitate forward progress for both patient and provider.

Your agents do this so often—providing critical links in the provision of patient care excellence—that they may not even realize it. Let them see the value they have in fulfilling your organization’s goal of successfully providing healthcare services to your patients. Allow them to relish their role in your patient’s health and in your organization’s overall accomplishments. Know that this will encourage them in their too-often-underappreciated work.

Action Plan

If you haven’t done so lately, take time to celebrate your medical call center agents. Yes, you confirm your gratitude by providing a paycheck and benefits. You thank them with your words. And you express your appreciation whenever possible. 

But you need to do more. Look for additional ways to celebrate their achievements and trumpet their accomplishments. They so deserve it.

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.

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Healthcare Call Centers

Provide Multi-Channel Access

Be Sure You Deliver the Options Today’s Consumers Expect

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

For years we’ve talked about the need for healthcare call centers to become contact centers. This name realignment shifts our attention from telephone calls to embrace other forms of contact as well.

This is a multi-channel mindset, and we provide multi-channel access to deliver the contact options that today’s consumers expect, which we must do if we’re to remain viable. 

Some people call this omnichannel, which implies all channels, while multi-channel more realistically looks at many channels. We’ll not debate which name is more appropriate. Instead, we’ll focus on the concept of moving beyond the telephone. 

Here are some multi-channel access points to consider.

Telephone

The telephone remains key for most people in most industries. In our push for multichannel access, let’s not forget the telephone as it will continue to be the foundation for what we do. The telephone has been around for a long time, longer than any of us. 

The first healthcare call centers started nearly a century ago in the form of medical answering services, often called doctors exchanges. The telephone is proven, ubiquitous, and dependable. It’s not new or exciting, but it is stable. 

And most consumers expect you to answer their telephone calls.

Email

Email has been around for several decades. It’s no longer novel, with naysayers long claiming that email is dead. It’s not. It’s very much alive. When you consider growing your call center beyond the telephone, the first multi-channel access option to consider should be email.

Email integrates smartly into call center activity. Unlike the telephone, where callers expect a timely answer with minimal delay, their expectation with email is less demanding. This doesn’t mean you can sit on a pending email message for days and should aim for a same-day response, but most people accept a reasonable delay as normal. This provides the opportunity to set email aside when call traffic is high and to process email messages during slow times.

Email agents should be able to read and absorb typed information quickly. They should also be able to type fast and accurately, without the need for editing.

Text Chat

A third multi-channel access option to consider is text chat. This common, and increasingly popular, communication option is how many people communicate with their family and friends. It’s no wonder that they expect businesses—including the healthcare industry—to embrace it too. 

Text chat agents, like email agents, must be able to quickly process typed messages and respond with accuracy. Unlike email, however, texting carries with it the expectation of minimal delay. In comparing chat with telephone calls, where multitasking doesn’t work, experienced chat agents can effectively handle multiple simultaneous chat sessions.

Social Media

Next consider social media. If patients try to contact you on social media, be prepared to respond. If you ignore them or take too long, they’ll be sure to vent their frustration to everyone on their platform of choice.

Social media agents need many of the same skills as email and chat agents. In addition, they must understand and be comfortable using each of the social media platforms that people could use to contact you.

Other Channels

This list is a great start, but it’s not conclusive. If people want to contact you by mail or fax, be ready to handle those interactions. Also watch for emerging communication technologies so you can prepare for them before your patients ask.

Multi-Channel Access Conclusion

If your call center is already providing multi-channel access, that’s great. Look for ways to make your channel offerings more effective. 

And if your call center focuses exclusively on the phone, explore how you can move decisively and methodically forward to offer multi-channel access to your patients and customers.

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.

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Healthcare Call Centers

Consider Three Customer Service Channels

Enhance Patient Communication by Applying Customer Service Skills to Your Call Center

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Customer service can occur at various touch points from the telephone, to on-line, to in-person. Consider each one of these as it relates to your medical call center operation.

The Telephone Channel

The obvious and common source of interaction with patients and customers at medical call centers is the telephone. Telephone customer service skills are of paramount importance in this environment, as there is no face-to-face interaction, and everything relies on voice communication.

The need is to balance efficiency with effectiveness. 

Efficiency means to do things in the quickest, most cost-effective manner. Effectiveness means to address caller concerns correctly and to do so on the first call. Another element of effectiveness is the caller’s perspective.

How do they feel about the call? Are they satisfied with the outcome? Did you leave them with a positive feeling or a negative one?

Online Channels

As medical call centers expand their service connection points beyond the telephone, they embrace various online communication options. These include email, text, web chat, and social media.

Each of these touch points provides an opportunity for customer service success or failure. Many of the skills required for telephone communications readily apply to online, but online channels require some additional skills.

These include typing speed and accuracy, being able to effectively multitask, and the ability to read and process patients’ typed communications quickly.

In-Person Channels

At an initial consideration, face-to-face communication skills don’t apply to call-center situations. Yet as we integrate video into the call center, we add a new element to our communication skill set: the ability to incorporate body language into our communications. 

This includes both what we see from the customer and what we visually supply to them. This opens another training opportunity we can use to enhance our call center agents’ abilities to better interact with patients and callers.

Sticky Customer Service

Sticky Customer Service, by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

My book Sticky Customer Service covers all three of these communication options. In this book, I share real-world examples to celebrate customer service successes and suggest improvement insights from customer service failures.

In this year, I encourage you to apply the examples from Sticky Customer Service to your medical call center operation. You, your staff, and your stakeholders will all benefit.

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.

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Healthcare Call Centers

Sticky Customer Service

With Increased Competition and More Patient Options, Providing Excellent Customer Service Is More Important Than Ever

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

I’ve covered various aspects of the call center industry, focusing here on healthcare contact centers, for the past 20 years. A persistent and reoccurring theme throughout this time has been customer service. This, I’m confident, will continue to be an essential focus for our industry going forward. 

Every telephone interaction we handle is a form of customer service in one way or another. Though I delight in sharing those customer service interactions that went extremely well, too often I find myself detailing customer service failures.

During the past two decades, I’ve written hundreds of articles that address this critical topic of customer service.

Now, I’ve compiled the best of these articles, along with fresh content, in my book Sticky Customer Service. Just as with my articles, Sticky Customer Service celebrates customer service successes and explores customer service disappointments. We can learn from both.

While the customer service wins give us something to cheer about, it’s the customer service failures that provide us with ample learning opportunities. May we learn much from these episodes that we can apply to make our content centers even better.

Though many of our customer service opportunities occur over the telephone, other interactions take place in person, while a growing number happen online.

Each of these three areas are most relevant for the healthcare industry. And each of these connection points interconnect, with one channel often migrating to another. 

Sticky Customer Service, by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

In Sticky Customer Service, uncover helpful customer service tips through this compelling read, encouraging your operation to do better and celebrating what you do best. Learn how to meet your patients’ (that is, your customers’) expectations every chance you get.

Sticky Customer Service is the first book in the Sticky series. Upcoming titles include Sticky Leadership, Sticky Sales and Marketing, and Sticky Living.

Get Sticky Customer Service and turn customer service and patient retention into a core strength for your healthcare organization.

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.

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Healthcare Call Centers

Seek Rules You Can Eliminate to Empower Your Call Center Staff

Make Sure the Procedures You Expect Your Employees to Follow Still Make Sense for Their Job Today

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

We’ve talked about asking your staff for feedback and using their input to uncover ways to tweak your procedures. One way to do this is to eliminate processes that keep your call center staff from doing the job you hired them to do.

Many of the instructions you provide your staff exist to address a past problem. Though some of these scenarios recur too often, other situations may have been an isolated instance that’s unlikely to repeat. 

Other expectations exist to accomplish management goals and advance operational paradigms. Though well intended and once applicable, their purpose may have lost relevancy over time.

With this background in mind, let’s reevaluate the procedures—that is, the rules—you’ve put into place for your staff. Consider these options:

Eliminate Obsolete Policies

Too many call center procedures once made sense but no longer do. You can make everyone’s job in your medical call center easier by eliminating unnecessary rules. The fewer procedures you expect your staff to follow, the better they’ll adhere to the ones that remain.

Simplify Existing Rules

Another category is procedures that have detailed and exacting expectations to follow. Although the general impetus behind the procedure still stands, you can look to lessen its severity. This could include reducing the number of steps required, removing time-consuming doublechecks, or empowering agents to act in specific situations without supervisor approval.

Implement Helpful Guidelines

Though our focus is on reduction, this doesn’t mean all procedures are bad. In fact, you may need to add some. 

Look for areas of ambiguity that your staff routinely struggles with. Could you ease their burden by giving them specific guidelines to follow? Would a straightforward procedure save them the agony of trying to make a quick determination to address a perplexing scenario?

Conclusion

All call centers, especially those in the healthcare industry, require rules to run efficiently and effectively. But not all rules are good. You should eliminate some and simplify others. Also look to implement judicious rules that will help staff deal with challenging situations. 

The goal is to make their job easier. When you do this, everyone benefits: you, your staff, your organization, and your callers.

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.

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Healthcare Call Centers

Remember to be Thankful

In The Middle of Struggles, Turmoil, and Difficulties, Pause to Celebrate the Positive

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

The United States and a few other countries will celebrate Thanksgiving in November. Canada and some other nations do so in October.

Regardless of when you celebrate Thanksgiving—or even if it’s not a holiday where you live—take a moment to remember and give thanks for the positive elements in your life.

With all that’s happened in the past couple years it’s easy to focus on the negative, which can pull us down with discouragement and overwhelm us with despair. Yet there are positive things happening as well. We just need to acknowledge them and embrace them.

Here are some things to be thankful for.

Be Thankful for Health

I take my health for granted—until I get sick. Then I’m reminded to appreciate the rest of the time when I am healthy, which is most every day.

Even though few people have zero health concerns, with our health status existing on a continuum, let’s be thankful for the positive aspects and not wallow in the negative.

Be Thankful for Work

I doubt any job is 100 percent perfect, but having a job in the first place—when many don’t—is a huge reason to be thankful. Our jobs allow us to earn a living to support ourselves and our family.

Without them we would have to rely on the generosity of others or the support of government. The next time when your work hasn’t gone so well—and it will happen—wrap up the day by giving thanks that you have a job.

Be Thankful for Family

In the past two years, I‘ve spent more time with family then in the past and have appreciated them more fully. Though we can choose our friends, we can’t choose our family. They’re ours for life.

May we celebrate each familial relationship for the good parts of it and be able to overlook the rest.

Be Thankful for Friends

True friendships don’t occur easily for most people. We have acquaintances, coworkers, and neighbors, but that doesn’t necessarily make them friends. But celebrate the friendships we do have for how they enhance our life. We should never take them for granted.

And if you’re a bit short in the friend department, remember that to find a friend, you need to first be a friend.

Be Thankful for Opportunity 

If you find it difficult to be thankful in one of the above areas—health, work, family, or friends—because you don’t see it as part of your life or are experiencing a shortfall, be encouraged. This is because the future provides an opportunity to change your present situation. 

Starting today you can work to improve your health, make your job more meaningful or find a different one, embrace your family, and grow your friendships. But to make the most of this opportunity, you must first seize it. And that opportunity is another thing to be thankful for.

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.