Do your healthcare call center agents speak chicken scratch? Really.
Are your agents’ workstations garnished with layers of Post-It Notes that function as their primary guide to dealing with all things patient scheduling for your practice?
Does your agent playbook weigh more than your auntie’s purse?
We may not want it made public, but for a majority of practices, the streamlined protocols that enable us to deliver Gold Star health care to our patients end at the door of the people answering the phones.
“Oh, you need to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jones about a problem you’ve been having with your knee? Let me check my notes to see what I need to do to take care of that for you.” (cue sounds of pages being flipped and mad searching through piles of paper…)
Uh oh. Your practice’s hard-won reputation just came into question based on that one response. (“wait…they’re not sure how to handle my request? I hope Dr. Jones doesn’t need his notebook to take care of my knee.”)
There may be nothing more detrimental to your reputation than agents who have to make decisions on the fly without being 100% sure of what they are supposed to do or how to pull it off. And an unsure agent is an anxious agent who probably is not the one to ask about how satisfied they are with their job.
It Shouldn’t Be This Way
Your agents came to this job because they want to help people. Do your systems and workflows empower them to do that in ways that contribute to their performance and satisfaction? Or is anxiety a common experience for your agents? Ask yourself a few questions.
- Are your agents still holding a phone to their ear while talking to patients? (Seriously?)
- Is your agent playbook up to Version 10.3 which mostly consists of notes and scribbles that reflect the seemingly daily changes to “…the way things are done around here.”
- Do your agents learn their jobs by being thrown into the heat of the action on day 1, rather than through defined training protocols, including ongoing training?
- Is your call center often understaffed so that agents are overwhelmed and dealing with ticked off patients who got that way because they had to wait a long time to talk with someone?
- Does your data analysis primarily focus on talk time instead of showing you the whole picture, including the necessary after-call work?
- Do your agents do great work without ever being rewarded? Have you considered the effect that has on job satisfaction?
If you answered yes to too many of the questions above, maybe it’s time to take a look at changing things up.
So Make It Like This
Your call center agents really want your patients to get the help they need. Today’s advanced healthcare call center software can make that happen, while at the same time improving the job experience of your agents in a variety of ways.
- By enabling predictability based on historical data, staffing levels can better reflect practice needs day by day while taking the pressure off agents.
- With software-based guided workflows, there is less need for agents to be healthcare specialists. A single source of truth combined with a guided workflow can empower any agent to respond to patient requests with speed and confidence.
- Guided workflows also enable faster, more effective training for agents by decreasing the amount of information agents need to stay abreast of and reference during patient calls.
- Advanced call center software takes into account every aspect of call handle time, including the time needed for after call work.
- Modern systems lower agent anxiety by giving them fast access to a single source of truth they can count on to provide up to date information for every patient request and physician requirement.
- Agent burnout is a real thing. But agents that can switch from calls to texts to chats throughout their day get a much needed changeup from the deadening spiral of doing the same thing over and over.
- Recording of calls protects agents from the “she said-he said” merry-go-round that can call an agent’s actions in question without a way to defend themselves. Knowing they will be dealt with fairly and truthfully makes agents feel like a valued part of your practice.
But Don’t Overlook This
Guided workflows are excellent tools to help your agents meet your practice KPIs. But be careful when defining workflows to consider the experience of both the patient — and the agent.
Allowing every complaint or mistake to drive workflow changes runs the risk of ending up with an unreliable manual of operations and a spider web of work that involves 600 questions to be answered before you can get a patient scheduled. That’s why it is extremely important to have a change management board or change advisory board decide which changes are right at the practice level. Including agents on your board ensures everyone’s needs and experiences are taken into consideration.
Because Everybody Wants to Shine
If I’m leading the pack, I’m eligible for bonuses, raises, and even promotions!
Truth is, all of us compare ourselves to others. And want to be recognized for our accomplishments. That’s especially true in environments like call centers where recognition and rewards are known contributors to job satisfaction. Take every opportunity to openly highlight great agent performance. And consider building in a rewards system that might include such things as financial bonuses, raises, and promotions. Then watch where your agents take you!