3 MIN. READ
Call centers are becoming more utilized in the health care field as pressures about patient satisfaction increase. A Spok survey of 400 health care professionals found 62 percent of hospitals have a contact center strategy in place.
Along with the increase in contact centers, the role of these organizations has changed from a communication, “answer-and-transfer” strategy to one of education and organizational change. Well-run health care call centers can play a leading role in educating customers about coverage, plan options and digital initiatives designed to increase efficiencies of self-service.
Not only does using call centers as a tool for education reinforce desired behaviors on behalf of the patients, like using digital options, but it can reduce repeat customer contacts and increase efficiencies overall. Customer Education is the discipline of teaching customers how to use and find value from products. As a business function, it benefits customers in many stages of their journey.
Call centers as a tool for organizational change
The survey found 48 percent of organizations using contact centers define their strategy as an enterprise transformation initiative. In fact, only 12 percent of those surveyed stated their call center was considered a communications initiative. Increasingly, call centers are central to increased efficiencies rather than a sideline tool.
However, this has increased the need for educated agents who are well adept at dealing with varying issues, from appointment setting to potentially life-threatening situations. The expanded role for contact centers requires a different approach with customers. Of the respondents, 64 percent stated new technology solutions have changed their overall strategy since initiating a call center.
Customer Education decreases call center volume
Digital transformations continue to play an important role in contact center initiatives as organizations seek efficiencies. However, calls can increase if customers find digital tools ineffective or confusing. One effective contact center strategy is having agents educate their customers. Customer Education is now a widespread solution.
Training agents to educate customers can decrease call volume and push digital efficiencies further by reinforcing digital use. Taking time on the initial call can reduce the likelihood of that customer calling again since they have been educated on how to use the digital tool, all while increasing patient satisfaction.
In fact, one health care firm trained its call center personnel to educate customers and follow up with online tutorials via email after each live call. The call center experienced a 36 percent reduction in that specific call type within six months.
Traditional metrics can be harmful
Setting up call centers as a tool for education can increase efficiencies and decrease overall call volume, but in order to be effective, certain standby metrics need to be evaluated. Of the nine key call center metrics to watch, average talk time is a goal that can become counterproductive.
Educating patients on how to use online or digital tools increases initial talk time as agents work customers through the digital system. However, a well-trained agent who can educate a patient on how to help themselves will pay off long-term.
The patient will be less likely to call back for similar questions and will be less likely to call with complaints, freeing the contact center to focus on more productive responsibilities.
Using call centers as a tool for education can increase the success of digital initiatives, improve efficiencies and increase overall customer satisfaction. Call us today so we can help you build a well-trained and run call center for your health care organization.