Today’s customers, whether they’re buying the latest technology or seeking out a specialty physician, want – and have come to expect – a personalized experience tailored to their unique needs and preferences. In any industry, delivering personalized experiences is essential to fostering long-term patient relationships.
For healthcare specifically, a proactive and strategic call center – also called an engagement center – that integrates with a healthcare CRM can play a critical role in developing a better understanding of the customer that, in turn, facilitates a richer customer experience.
Not only is the call center usually the first interaction a prospective customer will have with the organization, but it also remains a preferred channel for communication for many patients and specific actions throughout the patient journey. Some of our clients see up to 80 percent of their digital marketing leads converting via the call center.
Using the call center as a strategic engagement tool, healthcare organizations are improving productivity, generating more revenue, and creating greater visibility into ROI throughout the pipeline.
We’ve previously discussed how call centers can play an integral role in the acquisition and retention of customers and patients. Let’s look at how organizations are using the engagement center to create superior customer experiences:
1. Building Customer Profiles
Delivering the right message through the right channel at the right time is the starting point for more personalized interactions. With integration to a healthcare CRM, call center agents have access to a 360-degree view of the customer – a critical component of having more productive, efficient phone interactions.
During an interaction, the engagement center puts information at the agent’s fingertips to help guide a conversation. Agents can view and confirm customer’s demographics, details on previous interactions with the organization (in-person appointments, previous calls, completed web forms, or other marketing efforts), communication preferences, subscription preferences, and scheduled appointments.
Communication preference details enable call center agents to speak to customers through the channel they prefer. This sort of personalization, which is possible with CRM data, makes customers feel like the organization is cued into their needs and able to respond effectively to questions and issues. Most importantly, it builds trust and lasting relationships.
With access to robust customer profiles, agents can proactively address a patient’s needs and comprehensively resolve issues in a single call, such as physician referrals, event registrations, and appointment scheduling. To ensure continuity of care and organization-wide access to the most up-to-date customer data, agents can input interaction and resolution details into the interface.
Call center agents can also support specific ongoing marketing initiatives by working outbound call queues consisting of segmented target audiences based on customer profiles and needs to promote strategic organizational initiatives.
2. Creating Call Center Agent Scripts
An engagement center plays an important role in integrating call center activities into the organization’s overall marketing strategy and activities. Developing call center agent scripts to guide phone interactions between agents and customers ensures alignment with marketing campaign messages and timely resolution of customer issues.
There’s no limit to the number of scripts that can be created, but at the very least, each campaign should have a unique script that agents can tailor to each customer and reflect their individual progression through their customer journey.
The purpose of the script is to make it as easy as possible for a representative to connect and engage with the customer, identify their needs, and accomplish the call objectives efficiently – thereby improving their calling experience. Every script should have clearly identified areas where personalization is necessary. In addition, marketing teams should consider providing different scripts for potential outcomes, i.e. engaging on a live phone call vs. leaving a voicemail.
Here’s an example of a script that could be used in a cardiac awareness campaign:
3. Developing a Strategy for Outbound Calling
One of the most exciting possibilities with an engagement center is developing a clear, targeted strategy for outbound calling. With the data available in the healthcare CRM coupled with the engagement center functionality, specific audiences can be segmented and tagged for call outreach.
These outbound calling initiatives can be used to re-engage potential leads, build stronger relationships with patients, or deliver additional care. With this type of effort, health systems are increasing patient engagement, supporting population health management initiatives, and driving revenue for the organization’s bottom line.
Here are a few examples of effective proactive outreach:
- Seminar Attendance: A hospital is running a seminar on advances in orthopedic medicine hosted by their own orthopedic staff. The call center could identify and target patients/leads who have previously expressed interest in orthopedic care and target that segment through an outbound calling campaign to invite them to attend the seminar, and/or provide other orthopedic resources.
- Physician Referral Follow-Up: In many health systems, a primary role of the call center is to provide physician referrals, but studies have found that approximately 20-40 percent of patients who receive a referral never schedule an appointment. An engagement center can identify these customers and put them in a follow-up queue. With an outbound call, representatives can identify any issues with the referral and make it easy for patients by scheduling an appointment on the phone. This provides an excellent customer service by getting the patient to the care they need while driving incremental revenue for the organization.
- Post-Encounter Follow-Up: After an encounter, a follow-up call by a nurse to discuss discharge instructions and care can ward off re-admittance and improve transition care management.
- Appointment Reminders and Follow-Up: No-shows are the biggest challenge facing medical practices today, according to a recent MGMA poll. With the annual no-show rate of approximately 30 percent across the United States, the total annual cost is $150 billion. In most cases (52.4 percent) patients simply forget to attend or cancel their appointment. The first defense is going on the offensive with reminder calls. Research published from the American Journal of Medicine shows a live call – rather than an automated recording – has a higher impact on reducing no-shows. However, if all your reminder efforts still result in a no-show or a patient cancels an appointment and doesn’t reschedule, there’s still an opportunity to re-engage and re-schedule through an outbound call queue strategy.
This type of outreach could also be leveraged with patients that may be overdue for care, such an annual physical or routine mammogram.
Traditionally, healthcare call centers are thought of as cost centers, providing services to patients, but not aligned with greater organizational and marketing objectives. Healthcare organizations that have implemented an engagement center and leveraged it for strategic outreach have seen impressive results in a short timeframe. Here are results from one Evariant client:
- $17 million in additional revenue in less than a year through implementing post-discharge calls and reminder care calls.
- 5-6x growth in call center agent productivity in less than a year.
- Over $20 million in revenue through centralizing referrals.
- With increased visibility into the customer journey, a marketing department was able to attribute nearly double its return on marketing investment year-over-year.
These numbers reflect the data-driven, proactive efforts enabled through the Evariant CRM and Engagement Center solutions. With a more strategic approach, and the technology to support the development of a 360-degree view of the customer, organizations can provide more personalized customer service, identify and address patient needs, effectively manage outreach initiatives and drive patient engagement. All these efforts ultimately impact the bottom line of the organization. Call centers don’t have to be a drain on the budget; they can be an effective tool for providing superior customer service.