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Healthcare Call Centers

Who Signs Your Paycheck?

Knowing Who You Work for Helps You Do a Better Job

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Do you know who signs your paycheck? Whose signature is it that authorizes payment for the work you do? This, of course, is a theoretical question because most workers today receive their compensation electronically. It shows up in their bank account each payday, without a knowledge of who authorized the transfer.

When I ask who signs your paycheck, however, I don’t mean in a literal sense but in a broader, holistic way. That is, who is responsible for the money you make? Who do you work for? Let’s consider the options:

Your Employer

First on the list is the company you work for, your employer. They hired you, trained you, and pay you for your work. Regardless of the size of the organization you work for, however, there are numerous facets to employment.

First is your boss, and the managers and supervisors she has in place to oversee your work. Larger organizations have a hierarchy. There is your bosses’ boss and maybe even their boss. There could be officers and a Board of Directors. A corporation has stockholders, who own the company. You work for them all. In effect, each one signs your paycheck.

What about your coworkers? In a well-functioning organization, everyone works together to meet a common goal: serving callers. And if you’re in a position of authority, you have people working under you. In a way, you work for them, too, by providing support, encouragement, and direction. If they succeed in their jobs, you succeed in yours.

Your Clients

If you’re employed in an outsource call center, where you handle calls for other companies, you work for them too. Serve them well to retain their business, and you will continue to have a job. Serve them poorly, and they’ll cancel service. If this happens too often, your future employment is at risk. In this way, you work for your clients as much as you work for your employer.

Your Callers

Regardless of the type of call center you’re in, you work for your callers too. Without callers, you would have nothing to do. They’re critical to your ongoing employment success as well. 

Though most people who work in call centers have an inherent desire to do their best to help callers, not everyone is so service-oriented. Do your best to take care of them, which is what your company hired you to do. Then you will continue to have a job.

You

In addition to your employer, clients, and callers, you also work for yourself. You work to earn a living. It’s in your best interest to handle calls with excellence, thereby keeping your job.

Conclusion

In practice, you don’t work for one person, but for many. They are who signs your paycheck. Though there’s an obvious priority, strive to give your best work to each one of them, including yourself.

Don’t let this thought of working for everyone overwhelm you. Instead let it motivate you to give your best to your job every day, on every call.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat and Medical Call Center News, covering the healthcare call center industry.

Categories
Call Center Articles

The Call Center Can Save Healthcare

With a shortage of practitioners and a downward push on costs, the call center is poised to come to the rescue

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

It’s a bold statement to claim that call centers are the future solution to healthcare’s present problems. But it’s what I believe. And more and more people in the healthcare industry are believing it every day too. Here’s why:

Contain Costs

The healthcare industry is under extreme pressure to hold costs down. One way to do this is to outsource calls to professional communicators at healthcare call centers. Let healthcare practitioners and staff do what they do best, and let call centers handle their calls for them. It saves money and frees healthcare staff to focus on patients and providing care.

Counter Staff Shortages

We currently have a shortage of doctors, and projections indicate the shortage will increase. Also, some geographic areas suffer from a shortage of nurses, and no one expects this to get better either. Given these shortages of key personnel, it makes sense to keep them off the phones and outsource as much telephone work as possible to healthcare call centers, with agents who can do the work faster and more economically.

Increase Availability

The medical answering service has long been a cost-effective way to extend patient availability past normal office hours. It makes medical practices, clinics, and hospitals available to patients around-the-clock, 24/7. More recently, telephone triage operations have also made healthcare support available by telephone anytime of the day or night. Though this isn’t currently available to all people in all places, it will change. It must.

Retain Patients

Patients increasingly have a consumer mind-set when it comes to healthcare. Loyalty to their providers is no longer as strong as it once was. They’ll switch caregivers over the smallest of slights, which often occurs when they can’t get the assistance they want, when they want it. That’s why 24/7 phone coverage is essential to retain patients in today’s marketplace. The healthcare call center is primed to accomplish this.

Serve More People

Telehealth is another exciting healthcare development in the call center industry. With telehealth—of which telephone triage serves as the entry point—remote populations can now receive cost-effective service. No longer will people in rural areas need to drive long distances to access the healthcare system. Instead they’ll start with their phone. And if they have a smartphone, they can do a video chat, which aids remotely located practitioners in making more informed recommendations.

Let Specialists Specialize

In medicine we have many types of specialists. These highly trained individuals focus on one area, which allows them to serve a niche market better and faster than a general practitioner. Let’s expand this thought to the healthcare call center. The healthcare call center stands as the communication specialist for the healthcare industry. Just as there are benefits of going with a medical specialist, so too there are benefits of going with a healthcare communications specialist.

Conclusion

These exciting opportunities and the compelling outcomes they can provide show us how important healthcare call centers are to the healthcare industry. This applies both now and in the future. And while the demand for these healthcare call center specialists is great now, it will be even greater in the future.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine, covering the call center teleservices industry.

Categories
Call Center Articles

“They Don’t Know We Exist”

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Getting my annual income tax return done is one of my most dreaded tasks. Though I keep good records, plan ahead, and take a conservative approach, “tax season” is a source of personal anxiety and trepidation. As I organized this year’s batch of requisite documents for my accountant, I stumbled upon two contradictory forms from the same company. Until I could determine which one to believe, my tax returns would be on hold.

Fearing the ordeal before me and unsure of the best approach to take, I happily noted that the forms displayed a toll-free number, with an extension. This was a most customer-centric sign, and I began to imagine a quick resolution and a cogent explanation for my perplexing paperwork. With a sense of expectancy, I dialed the number and punched in the extension.

Though my call was quickly answered, the rep’s customer service skills were decidedly lacking. I explained my dilemma as concisely as possible and held my breath. With a scant few seconds of conversation to make an assessment, my once optimistic outlook had been quickly reduced to a tiny glimmer of hope.

With a dismissive air, he asked for my account number. I gave him a number from the form. “That’s not one of our account numbers.” His irritation came through the phone. He sighed. “What’s your soc?”

His use of an abbreviation only heightened my perception that he was in a hurry, and I was in his way. Even though I view it as bad form to employ slang and internal abbreviations when communicating with customers, I gave him my social security number. Then I sighed.

“Can’t find that either. Are you sure you’re calling the right place?”

I reminded him that I had called the number on the form that his company had sent me.

“Must be your account’s been closed.”

I assured him that was not the case. He murmured some more, then placed me on hold.

After waiting too long, a woman picked up the line. He had done a blind transfer of my call. With similar abruptness but a slightly gentler disposition, she futilely requested the same information. “Let me check something,” she eventually said, and I was again on hold.

There was another long wait and another blind transfer. However, this time the lady who answered was as accomplished at customer service as the others were not. Within a few seconds, I once again had hope for a positive outcome. Despite a five-minute interlude and two unacceptable agents, my initial optimism was restored.

She sincerely apologized when I shared the abject failure of her counterparts. I assured her that my bad experience was not her fault. By this time, she had retrieved my records and given me a thorough explanation of the information on both forms.

“Our department is our company’s best-kept secret,” she said with a polite laugh. “They don’t even know we exist.”

Sigh.

[From Connection Magazine April 2012]

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine, covering the call center teleservices industry.