Customer care in health services is sorely lacking. According to a survey by Ipsos, healthcare was the third worst industry for service, as ranked by surveyed consumers. While the industry was ranked ahead of government services and telecommunications (a pretty low bar), it was behind the utility, insurance, and airline industries. The impacts of such poor service marks for healthcare are loss of revenue and entrenched customer satisfaction issues. Patients use service centers for a variety of tasks, including appointment scheduling, paying bills, inquiring about care, and asking about insurance coverages.
Patients’ satisfaction with their healthcare provider is of course tied to the quality of their medical care, but it’s also dependent on other factors. How they are treated is another important metric. From the nurses demeanor to the interactions patients have with call center representatives, every engagement matters. To deliver a consistent experience for patients and caregivers, contact center agents should be trained to exceed expectations.
Healthcare call centers can improve their bottom lines by developing high-performing agents that are in tune with their clients needs and are able to encourage timely payments. These staff members must be engaged in their roles, a metric that can be tied to the company’s income, as shown in a report from HR consultancy Tower Perrins which surveyed workers in various industries that found a 19.2% boost in operating income in companies with high levels of engagement.
The stakes are high for poorly-performing healthcare call centers. Patients that experience poor agent interactions or have unresolved complaints are very likely to tell others about their experience and are unlikely to visit the health center again in the future.
Developing high-performing agents requires companies to use interactive analytics and strategic coaching. This allows them to move to a deeper level of understanding about the patients’ needs and how to develop “second nature” skills for handling common inquiries or complaints.
The Need for Knowledge
Healthcare call center managers need access to knowledge about agent performance and how that performance translates into revenue results. An efficient and powerful way to acquire this information is through speech analytics. Advanced call monitoring tools can transcribe every patient-to-agent interaction into searchable text. This compares to traditional manual agent monitoring and performance management which involves sampling random calls and then meeting one-on-one to discuss the findings. Such procedures mean providers are only listening to (and making assumptions about) less than three percent of all conversations.
Supervisors and managers can use the analytics in aggregate to gauge how the center is performing, in terms of agent engagement, revenue- producing, and patient satisfaction metrics. They can pinpoint the behaviors of the highest-performing agents and reward them with financial incentives while using their positive phrasing as examples for the rest of the team.
Analytics platforms that feature sentiment analysis (such as changes in rate of speech or stress in the voice) when combined with phrasing analysis can provide call center workers with deeper meaning into the caller’s state of mind. These insights allow centers to take additional steps to quickly address the caller’s concerns, which might result in transferring to a supervisor or involving other agents to help resolve an issue more quickly. Without such knowledge, call centers are largely in the dark, and might not recognize frustrated callers until it’s too late and they’ve decided to not utilize the healthcare center for future care.
Healthcare call center managers armed with timely information are able to provide immediate and contextual-based coaching. Instead of making generalities about the need for more empathy on the calls or guidance to “stick to compliance language”, supervisors can instead point to examples of certain phrasing that evokes empathy and offer concrete examples of times the agent went “off script” in terms of compliance.
Analytics-based coaching can help agent teams to align their actions with the patient’s wishes. Callers want the agent to understand their needs, offer knowledgeable answers, and be helpful in problem resolution. These demands are simple, but satisfying them is difficult without the right coaching and meaningful feedback.
An analytics tool that uses automated monitoring can record 100% of all calls and provide agents and supervisors with direct and immediate feedback. Advanced analytics platforms will not only pull call transcripts, but they’ll also include content from email, chat, and social media platforms which are used by patients. Since the conversations are transcribed, all of the data can be analyzed for compliance language, empathy-based phrasing, and other agent activity that relates to the customer experience. For example, the speech analytics platform can be setup to recognize language such as “This is my third time calling!” or “Is this a HIPAA violation?” which can then addressed through specialized care. Analytics that provide live monitoring can help agents self-correct their behaviors while still on the call.
Real-time analytics creates a positive feedback loop where agents are continually improving their own performance and their actions are used to guide colleagues on the right tactics. Used properly, such analytics can foster agents who operate at a high level by offering the right suggestions to problems and presenting their phrasing efficiently and effectively.
Access to knowledge and the related analytics allow contact centers to provide context-based conversations with patients. Agents are able to remain in compliance and pursue revenue, but perhaps more importantly, they can achieve their foremost goal of presenting patients with a consistent and empathy-based level of support.