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?
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.
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
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.