Long hold times with the cable company. Talking in circles to a travel agent when trying to book your dream vacation. The rude service worker at the car rental shop who conveniently "lost" your reservation. Everyone has customer service horror stories.
They are so common in fact, that most people actually anticipate negative customer service. However, in an industry where poor communication and inadequate systems integration can negatively impact a person's health, poor customer service is not an option.
Your health contact center is a primary entry point for your organization. But, often times, the easiest ways of keeping patients safe and loyal are missed. When a person is sick or has a health concern, they expect to receive an answer immediately. They also want to know that whomever they go to for help is caring, knowledgeable, and someone they can trust. Good customer service is imperative to your healthcare facility’s success, but making those lasting (positive) impressions can be a difficult task.
Plagued by insufficient resources, budget cuts, and antiquated technology, creating an effective contact center can seem all but impossible for some organizations. But by focusing on these five areas, your health call center can significantly improve its customer service.
Focus on the quality of the call, rather than the length of the call. Good customer service begins and ends with a strong focus on quality. It can be tempting to get hung up on average call time and calls completed per hour. But, as Jeff Forbes points out in his article: Incentives and Unintended Consequences, when you focus on call quality rather than throughput, you create a service environment optimized for service excellence.
- Invest in soft skills training (people skills). Just because someone is personable doesn't automatically mean they will be great at customer service. By taking an active role in developing your team's relationship skills, you ensure your callers will experience exceptional service no matter who they speak to.
- Technology can make or break your call center. Your medical call center software should assist agents by using specific guidelines, seamlessly transfer data to your other systems, identify and cross-promote other relevant services, and provide actionable reporting as often as you need it.
- Use the right guidelines. For health information services like your nurse advice line, utilizing vetted guidelines will ensure your callers receive the correct health advice each and every time. We recommend the Drs. Schmitt and Thompson guidelines for telephone triage.
- Monitor, Analyze, Improve, Repeat. Your quality programs need to be highly focused, utilizing techniques that see emerging problems in order take corrective action quickly and effectively.
Whether the interaction is a first point of contact for medical advice, a follow up call to a recently discharged patient, or a request for available services, callers must know that the person they are speaking to cares for their total well-being.
By offering compassion, empathy, and structured advice to your medical community, members and patients feel they can trust the advice and guidance given to them, ultimately encouraging healthy behaviors and shining a favorable light on your organization.