Failing to Prepare Is Preparation for Failure
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Most medical call centers scrambled during the past year to adapt to ever-changing protocols. This includes adjusting to meet caller expectations, appropriately scheduling staff while ensuring their safety, and handling more calls than usual. As a result, a day-to-day survival mentality has emerged in many operations. Just handle the next phone call, get through the day unscathed, and return tomorrow to do it again.
If we’re not intentional, we could find ourselves mired in this mode for a long time. The solution is to take initiative to inform our future so that it doesn’t force us into maintaining this uncomfortable status quo. Our future starts today.
Take time to consider what happens next.
Adapt a Dual-Strategy Mentality
While we all hope to one day return to normal, many people wonder if we ever will. Although our current situation could persist into the future, we could also morph into a new normal that falls midway between what was and what is.
Since we don’t know what will happen, our strategy should account for both possibilities. Though this requires extra work, demanding time that we may not have to give to it, it’s worth the effort to plan for two scenarios: 1) how we can best move back to how things used to be, and 2) how we can best move forward into a new way of doing business. Plan today to prepare for either possibility.
How well has your call center system performed in the past twelve months? If it’s handled everything you’ve thrown at it with ease and excellence, then you have a firm foundation from which to move forward.
If, however, a few cracks emerged in performance or capability, this is the time to plan for needed upgrades or a system replacement. Even if your call center platform performed well prior to the pandemic, you’ll expect more from it even if we’re able to return to the way things used to be.
Do what you need to do now to make sure you have the technological infrastructure in place to move into the future, whatever that may look like.
Though some call centers have had a distributed workforce or been virtual for years, many in the healthcare call center arena have been reluctant to send their agents home to work. Though a centrally located staff is easier to manage, it’s increasingly hard for most operations to staff.
Having the flexibility to tap into a home-based workforce—whether home-bound out of necessity or preference—may be the only solution for some call centers to fully staff their operation. If you’re not able to accommodate off-premise workers, take the needed steps to be able to move in that direction if or when needed.
Though it’s understandably easy to continue functioning in a crisis mode, it’s critical to take initiative today to prepare for a better tomorrow.