Lessons in Personalization: What Healthcare Can Learn from Retail Call Centers

The retail industry has been at the forefront of customer experience and personalization—extending their innovations to a variety of channels, including digital marketing and call center.

As the healthcare landscape continues to move toward a customer-centric approach, what can healthcare learn from the retail space? More specifically, what lessons can retail call centers offer the healthcare sector to help marketers provide better personalization in their engagements with consumers and patients?

In this post, we’ll explore three ways retail call centers provide experiences that healthcare leaders can incorporate to provide the personalization needed to impact consumers in today’s evolving healthcare marketing landscape.

Lesson 1: Create Simple, Efficient Experiences

Within the retail sector, simplicity can lead to better overall customer satisfaction. According to Marketing Week, 62 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for a simple, straightforward experience. Retail call centers understand that simpler experiences translate to higher customer retention, more referral traffic, and better overall brand loyalty. But how do they provide simplicity in a way that can benefit healthcare marketing? The answer lies in connecting the dots on patient/consumer needs, combining them for a simplified solution to suit their healthcare needs.

Retailers know that in today’s digital age, consumers are privy to a variety of communication channels that extend far beyond phone calls, and as such, aim to provide a unified experience across them all. From phone lines to SMS messaging, email to online chat, retail call centers aim to unify consumer data across all these different touchpoints, then use those insights to personalize communications and offer simplified solutions.

Customer Experience

The takeaway for healthcare marketers is to consolidate siloed communications. Leveraging a healthcare engagement center, healthcare marketers can track where individuals are along the healthcare continuum from varying in-network departments and use that data to provide actionable recommendations, connect them with doctors and physicians, or provide resources based on insights they’ve provided across communication points. Here’s an example:

A patient calls the hospital call center looking for a referral to an orthopedic doctor. Through the organization’s engagement center, the patient’s profile with details on past interactions is readily available and can be used to provide a more informed, personalized experience. 

After providing the referral to the orthopedic doctor, the call center agent sees that the patient is due for an annual physical. The agent informs the patient and the appointment is scheduled on the same phone call.

By having visibility into every patient, the agent is able to be more proactive in addressing the patient’s health needs, simplifying the experience.

Lesson 2: Resolve Customer Issues Quickly

Scripted calls have been used by retail call centers for quite some time, but in today’s consumer-driven landscape, there are simply too many ways an engagement center interacts with consumers to rely on call scripts alone.

In combination with agent scripts, retail call centers focus on situational best practices to ensure communications are guided toward addressing consumer needs in the most convenient and consumer-friendly manner. With 69 percent of retail customers attributing good customer service to fast problem resolution, the quicker call center agents can steer engagement toward resolution, the better.

In the healthcare call center, defining best practices can boost script effectiveness, help address call objectives quickly, and ensure that conversations are aligned with marketing campaign messaging. By developing guidelines that address common problems and offer corresponding solutions, call center agents are better prepared to address the patient’s issue, work toward a speedy resolution, and provide a more personal experience during each patient engagement.

Lesson 3: Empower Call Center Agents to Be Brand Ambassadors

In the retail space, call center agents play a pivotal role in shaping a customer’s view of a brand. With this in mind, retail call centers place significant emphasis on not only hiring the right candidates, but also training them to be brand ambassadors. This training ensures every interaction between an agent and a customer aligns with the retailer’s messaging and goals.

In addition to this, retailers measure the performance and customer satisfaction generated by their call center agents. For example, Amazon measures service quality by looking at indicators like the average speed of answer, average hold time, abandon rate, and first call resolution rate.

In the healthcare sector, focus on quality training and effective performance measurement can ensure agents have the necessary skills to deliver a positive experience that facilitates the individual’s health needs. This emphasis on engagement training and measurement can also help identify areas across the healthcare marketing landscape where personalized engagement opportunities exist as well as where engagements are falling short. Leveraging the data made available with an HCRM, agents can personalize interactions with patients and consumers—from addressing the customer by name to knowing they are due for a flu vaccine and there’s a flu shot clinic coming up soon in their area.

Final Thoughts

The shift toward a customer-centric approach requires hospitals and organizations to innovate in order to drive patient acquisition and improve retention. In the retail space, improving customer experience in the call center has been a priority for some time, and offers unique insights that healthcare marketers should be leveraging in order to better optimize their call centers to meet the needs of today’s consumers.

Facilitating simple and efficient experiences, resolving customer issues quickly, and empowering call center agents in their interactions can help healthcare organizations offer more personalized, consumer-friendly experiences that help bring patients through the door and maintain long-term relationships.

Mapping Perfect Customer Experience

Daymon Smith

Daymon Smith

Daymon J. Smith is the Vice President, Engagement Center Practice Leader at Evariant. Daymon joined Evariant in 2013 with a focus on ensuring healthcare leaders got the most from their investment in the Evariant healthcare CRM solution. Daymon has lead the effort of creating the Evariant Engagement Center solution and has a sharp focus on helping leading health systems move to a proactive call center model that improve the overall patient experience and generates revenue for the system. Daymon is a 3rd Degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Grappling Instructor. He is also a former All American Running Back at both Colgate University and LaSalle Academy.
Daymon Smith