Work to Enhance Customer Service to Better Meet Caller Expectations
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
What does your healthcare call center do to improve quality interactions with your callers and patients? While some call centers have robust programs in place, others struggle with implementation or following through, and a few keep putting it off.
Regardless of where you stand on the quality spectrum, too many call centers lack a methodical quality assurance (QA) program that they consistently use to track and improve the quality of the interactions that their agents have with callers.
Here are some thoughts to move forward:
Though you could begin with a grand comprehensive plan to have a dedicated QA leader or team evaluate every agent every day, this is too big of a vision for most organizations to start with. Instead think small. Aim to evaluate each employee once a month. This feels manageable.
Though evaluating one call a month may not provide statistically meaningful insights, it does communicate to every employee the importance you place on the quality of their work. It also brings a customer service focus to the forefront of their thinking.
Now that you’ve evaluated one call per person in a month, repeat the process. Do it a second month and then a third. Some employees will catch the vision right away, while others will have a wait-and-see attitude. But as you consistently assess one call per agent per month, your staff will see your commitment and take the goal of quality seriously.
Instead of evaluating calls to discover where agents fall short, seek to catch them doing something right. Focus on the positive whenever possible. Yes, you must address some errors immediately, but even in this case frame them between what they did right.
Let them self-identify areas to improve. For example, listen to a call with them and ask, “What was good about this call?” You may need to prod a bit, provide suggestions, or offer affirmation. After they’ve identified several areas of success, then ask them, “What is one thing that could’ve gone better?” Then offer instruction, encouragement, or support as needed to help them turn this one weak area into a strength.
Grow as Needed
Once you have a system down and have consistently evaluated one call per agent per month, look to expand your program. Seek to assess two calls per month. This will also be an ideal time to train other people in your QA process so that they, too, can help appraise calls. Continue to add calls to the process until you have a statistically significant dataset for each employee each month.
Also, be sure to allocate time for your QA manager or team so they can complete their call evaluation work. Don’t expect them to squeeze this task in among many others. If you do, something will suffer, and I suspect it will be your QA program.
Your employees—and your callers—deserve better.