By Daymon Smith
As the healthcare
landscape shifts toward a value-based care model, consumers and patients are
taking more responsibility for their individual health. The combination of
higher premiums, copays, and deductibles mean consumers hold the care they
receive to a higher standard. They research competitive pricing, treatment
quality, and customer service to make informed decisions.
This shift in focus
within the healthcare sector has increased the importance of offering consumers
and patients value that goes beyond quality care and treatment options. More
specifically, healthcare marketers prioritize personalized engagement on an
individual level. They match consumers with the resources, providers, and
treatment options that offer the best overall health outcomes and highest
In this effort, hospitals and organizations have started to
optimize the role call centers play, adopting a variety of capabilities to
merge disparate points of contact into one centralized, proactive call center.
Also known as an engagement center, these modernized call centers, which work
in conjunction with healthcare risk management (HCRM), enable healthcare
providers to deliver the level of customer experience and personalization
The ideal customer experience a consumer should receive when
engaging with a call center is key. Healthcare providers should strive to
deliver this level of customer service through technology and training.
Customer Service Expectations in Healthcare
Today’s consumer expects quality customer service across their
health journey, from first point of contact to post-care engagement. Often the
first point of communication between a customer and the healthcare
organization, call centers face the responsibility of living up to the
expectations of modern healthcare consumers. In fact, they handle around 68
percent of all customer communications, further emphasizing why consumers hold
the call center customer service they receive to a higher standard.
Personalized Service:When patients and
consumers interact with the healthcare call center, they expect insights,
resources, and interactions personalized to their unique health journey.
Therefore, call center agents must understand each patient’s issues and provide
Single-Call Resolution:It’s crucial that call
center agents tap caller data to provide actionable and individualized
recommendations, connect them with doctors and physicians, provide useful and
relevant resources, and proactively anticipate consumer needs.
center operations exist in operational silos, resulting in a fragmented
customer experience. With an HCRM-enabled engagement center, health systems
deliver the seamless and personalized experiences customers want across
communication channels, including the call center, patient portal, and email.
Facility the Patient
Journey: Successful agents move
callers forward along the patient journey.Quality customer service
within the healthcare sector extends far beyond one phone call. Patients expect
guidance and assistance from healthcare organizations throughout their care
experience. This includes communication, connecting the consumer with necessary
resources and solutions, and ensuring the experience is as convenient as
Here’s an example: At the start of the patient journey, a consumer
submits a website form submission requesting information on shoulder pain.
After receiving the requested information in an email, the customer is placed
in an outbound calling queue for follow-up.
The call center agent provides additional information and offers
to connect the customer with a specialist. The call center agent connects them
with an orthopedic physician near their home and sends timely reminders before
During the appointment, the physician recommends physical therapy.
The patient receives a call the same day from the call center to match them
with a physical therapist and schedule their first appointment. The patient
receives an SMS reminder forty-eight hours before the appointment. Recording
each interaction with the organization in the healthcare CRM ensures continuity
and enables personalization throughout the patient journey.
Technology for Optimized Healthcare Customer Service
The customer service consumers expect from healthcare
organizations forces call centers to evolve into comprehensive engagement
centers. With the goal of serving as a strategic tool for engagement, revenue
growth, and greater visibility into return on investment, these call centers
combine technology with call center agent training for optimized customer
For call centers looking to shift toward becoming an engagement
center, a healthcare CRM program serves as the
foundation for successful engagement. With an HCRM in place, call centers
can provide consistent, unified communications with patients and consumers
while connecting disparate points of contact throughout the health system.
Additionally, an HCRM provides call center agents with a 360-degree view into
the customer data needed to facilitate personalized, efficient consumer
More specifically, call center agents can take advantage of unique
customer profiles—a collection of demographic data, prior interactions with the
organization, contact preferences, and appointments and medical history—to
ensure they’re using the best method of communication (phone, email, or chat)
and delivering relevant health information.
An engagement center should also incorporate marketing automation
to send reminders and resources throughout the patient journey. Marketing
automation tools help call centers maintain long-term engagement to promote
patient acquisition and strengthens patient retention.
Call Center Training for Optimized Customer Service
Like any job, the better the training, the greater the impact. For
healthcare call center agents, training is a significant facilitator to
outstanding patient and customer service. One of the most important aspects of
call center training revolves around the proper use of call center scripts.
By developing scripts to guide agent conversations, healthcare
organizations ensure that the call center customer experience aligns with
marketing efforts. Additionally, scripts can help call center agents focus on
guiding customers toward a pleasant and timely resolution of their queries.
As a good practice, call centers should equip agents with at least
one script for each campaign, which they can tailor to the individual customer
while reflecting their location within the patient journey.
Another important element to call center training is ensuring that
agents can handle any nonclinical queries. Given the high volume of customer
interactions call center agents handle each day, it’s crucial that they have a
clear understanding of the healthcare organization ecosystem, as well as the
capability to handle queries on the fly.
Consumers today expect more value from their
care providers. Optimizing the traditional healthcare call center into a modern
engagement center helps provide the efficiency, personalization, and
capabilities that have become synonymous with superior customer service.
To best leverage the potential of call centers
and optimize the customer experience within them, healthcare organizations need
to incorporate modern marketing technology and comprehensive training into
Daymon Smith is the vice president, engagement center practice leader at Evariant. He focuses on leading health systems in their move to a proactive call center model that improves the overall patient experience and generates revenue for the system.