Positive customer experiences (CX) are something we want to experience as healthcare consumers. When we cannot understand our own healthcare, we become stuck in a cycle between pharmacies, doctors, and call center agents. What we encounter, how we approach it, and who helps us understand it contribute to why it matters. Agent training can be crucial to improving your CX in ways call center script reliance can hinder the healthcare journey.
Contact centers measure success by how managed the metrics are and how they perform quarter over quarter. These key performance indicators (KPIs) include first call resolution (FCR), average handle time (AHR), cost per call (CPC), and other metrics that tend to mirror what, traditionally, centers view as a successful call – fix the issue, fix it fast, and fix it with direct resources you have available.
Call Center Scripts Don’t Listen to the Whole Journey
If you hit these KPIs or even surpass the expected rates, what could possibly be missing? The reason they called got fixed…right?
It is not that simple. Here’s why.
Metrics don’t tell the full story. The voices of the customer and agent on the call give true insights into predicting future behaviors, building brand loyalty, and infusing trust and confidence in healthcare customers. To tell a real data-backed story, you must unlock the entire journey customers experience and not just the singular interaction they’ve had with a single agent over the phone. If you direct a caller to a resource that will help them quickly resolve an issue they’re facing at the exact moment, patients aren’t understanding the full scope of their healthcare experience.
What is making them empowered to take action if they don’t feel like somebody understands or is even listening to their whole journey? Nothing.
Reimagine the agent-customer relationship. It’s time to train and coach to connect, listen, and guide your CX strategy with the actual voices of your customers. Use agent monitoring and performance dashboards to find opportunities for improvement.
Start understanding how agent training and monitoring balances the traditional use of a call center script with these five (5) reasons:
- Knowledge and Familiarity
- Empathy and Communication
- Adaptability and Improvement
- Decision-making and Problem-solving
- Compliance and Privacy
1. Knowledge and Familiarity
Training in call centers helps build the opportunity to gain layers of knowledge about specific areas of healthcare. When agents are trained and are able to trust in their education, the same sentiment is felt on the caller’s end. As agents become familiar with the language of the industry, brand, regulatory guidelines, or insurance plan coverage, they start to serve as trusted guides for patients. This helps improve brand loyalty, trust, and honest communication between both parties to meet the unique needs of each customer journey while benefiting brand perception.
Some examples of agent training could include:
- Recreating complex insurance scenarios
- Using the script to guide conversational points
- Locating common brand resources for quick reference
Knowing the complexities of the healthcare journey can help break down medical terms and best practices or even more specified issues such as understanding what specialty pharmacies are, how triages work, and what the qualifications are for Medicaid and inclusions in Medicare health insurance plans.
2. Empathy and Communication
Empathy has the ability to cognitively and attentively communicate. As described in a 3C Logic article, cognitive empathy places the agent in the caller’s frame of mind (what would I want to know?) while attentive empathy involves active listening to understand their specific patient journey better. Whether you train by monitoring agent performance, role-playing scenarios, or using intentional customer-centric language, your business (and their health outcomes) will grow together to prove the training investment should no longer be seen as a cost (with a clear return on investment, or ROI).
Empathy is crucial to measuring impact, maintaining authentic connections, and retaining patients and specialists. Part of Authenticx’s mission is to evolve healthcare CX to be customer-centric rather than transactional, which shifts away from assembly line efficiency, according to a Berkley California Review Management article. To better impact traditional metrics (such as FCR), using an empathetic approach improves the quantitative data behind the qualitative interaction.
Many call center and brand teams are practicing role play and scenario preparation sessions. When contact center leaders and agents work together to create activities that confront both common and niche issues that patients might face, they are able to meld techniques and situations into a team-first process (connecting managers, agents, and patients). This can promote improved agent empowerment, remind them why they enjoy doing what they do (connecting to and helping others), and drive down employee turnover rates.
3. Adaptability and Improvement
To consistently improve call center patient experiences is to remain adaptable and resourceful. Agents must be quick on their feet to adjust to the caller’s needs; i.e., not all callers have the same issues, and most calls cannot be resolved the same way.
Agent anxiety in calls affects the overall customer interaction and customers notice it. Tone, phrasing, and interruptions are some ways that agent anxiety attributes to low sentiment and poor report scores. Intentional coaching is one way to take action and help support agents. This could include identifying pain points that could not be predicted from a call center script (like website or portal navigation updates). If there are outdated procedures or information that doesn’t lend direction to patients, there are several steps you can take to ensure customer attrition stays low, so your bottom line isn’t damaged. They include:
- Update processes to have fewer steps
- Add information sessions on website navigation
- Provide helpdesk resources more clearly
Call Center Script Frequently Asked Questions
Call center leaders need to feel confident their call center script strategy is effectively equipping their employees and customers. Get answers to common questions about call center best practices, agent performance, and quality management to improve your CX.
4. Decision-making and Problem-solving
The benefits of training bring clarity to the next steps of connecting to patients as humans and not as a metric. When agents expand their knowledge, comfort, and understanding of customer needs, they are more prepared to provide relevant solutions.
Decisions that benefit and help the customer can get complicated for agents and customers, specifically in healthcare. Some of these complexities are brought to light by social determinants of health (SDOH). SDOH are typically described as non-medical factors or conditions that affect people’s quality of life demographics (how and where they live, work, learn, or play). A call center script does not generally include this customer-specific reality.
Agent training makes it easier to prioritize and share realistic (and relatable) situations with one another – which better prepares them to connect with callers to give personalized and tailored solutions. These solutions could look like:
- Retrieving community insights
- Training to discuss job loss
- Learning how to empathize with death
- Listening to understand financial problems
- Finding local resources or sessions that relate to their needs
5. Compliance and Privacy
Protecting personal information and electronic health records (EHRs) in a time of cloud-based systems, data breaches, and dynamic regulations (like HIPAA) makes it a high priority for all companies to have safeguards and procedures in place to combat potential disruptions. Reasonably, if there was one reason why a call center script serves an important purpose in contact centers, it is for industry and guideline compliance.
A call center script, as explained in the same California Review Management article, aids in maintaining discreet and quick solutions to customer issues. Yes – the concerns are met (or at least less liable) with call center script adherence – however, they become stilted or lack maneuverability for agents. Moreover, agents grow accustomed to the script’s succinctness and can become frustrated when the call center script doesn’t address customers’ questions or topics. This could lead to unawareness of recent changes to coverage or insurance plan information and messaging.
With training, agents can learn to use scripts as a guide to create key points. When trained agents are equipped to listen to the caller, they are able to learn how to better handle sensitive and confidential health information without sacrificing key compliance and regulatory points from a call center script or other training, like call role-playing.
Agent Training in Action
Consider this example: In preparation for regulatory changes in brand messaging, a customer shared how the new changes will make it difficult to pay for their parent’s medication. The costs of the brand medication could increase, but their parent’s health is getting worse, and they are also trying to arrange plans for hospice care.
Rather than repeating what the script says about brand changes, the agent used attentive empathy to understand the issue was about the health of their parent rather than disappointment about the brand changes. After the agent connected with the customer about how it can become heavy to manage, the customer felt heard and reciprocated the sentiment by asking about resources they can have to better handle the regulatory brand changes.
To resolve the call, the agent had the brand resources prepared from the script and even shared community resources about the hospice care transition. As a result, the customer left the call interaction with the information for which they called while the agent successfully used a call center script as a tool to align with their training.
Agent Training Meets Business and Health Outcomes
Call center scripts help agents provide consistent language and guideline abidance – however, they often lack the malleability agents need to develop effective communication and build patient trust to employ high-quality service that directly impacts brand loyalty, adherence, and the overall positive CX.
As explained in a MyCustomer article, the measurement of ROI is the process itself: the more empathy used means improved satisfaction and increased loyalty which brings your contact center a greater lifetime value.
Don’t ignore the importance of training and coaching in contact centers. Start to act on your business’s bottom line by investing in the health outcomes of customers.
- Educate your revenue cycle team on how to find and input codes
- Use dashboards to track call length, sentiment, and even accuracy
- Share quick tips on how to enhance agent quality scores
- Recognize when brand values are shared consistently in calls
Onboard, monitor, improve, and celebrate your team by leveraging agent training dashboards and coaching insights. A call center script has a purpose but not one with the investment return agent training provides. See the impact within your call center and on your long-term cost savings.
Train and onboard agents
Invest in empowering your employees with improved communication, training, and QA.
Authenticx was founded to analyze and activate customer interaction data at scale. Why? We wanted to reveal transformational opportunities in healthcare. We are on a mission to help humans understand humans. With a combined 100+ years of leadership experience in pharma, payer, and healthcare organizations, we know first-hand the challenges and opportunities that our clients face because we’ve been in your shoes.
Want to learn more? Contact us!