top of page

5 Key Aspects of High-Performing Healthcare Contact Centers

Patients and providers alike utilize contact center services in healthcare organizations for services such as processing prior authorizations, continuity of care activities, and claims assistance. It is vital for these centers to manage their customer support experiences effectively, as the resolution can be a matter of life or death when addressing the delivery of patient care. Contact centers need to consistently perform at their best to optimize healthcare administration.

So, what are the key differentiators? Here are five best practices that high-performing contact centers are embracing to offer an experiential touch in the healthcare industry.

Continuous Improvement Culture

Continuous quality improvement is not only a best practice for providing patient care; it has important implications for contact centers as well. Fostering a continuous improvement culture means always looking for ways to better serve customers and improve associate experience. The foundation of such a culture begins with associates having a clear understanding of expectations, target metrics, and goals. Collecting performance data can help define these for teams and provide a baseline for developing improvement initiatives. Advancements in contact center technologies have made it significantly easier to monitor and trend performance data. Key performance indicators such as hold times, handle times, and first call resolutions can provide insights into associate performance. Customer experience feedback is another valuable source of performance data to analyze; doing so can shed light on service issues that may not be captured by internal monitoring systems.

It is the organization’s responsibility to leverage this data to help identify and address improvement opportunities with associates. Regularly scheduled touchpoints and performance reviews allow for transparency and productive dialogue between associates and managers. Embracing a continuous improvement culture is everyone’s business, and each associate should also be afforded the opportunity to share improvement ideas with their supervisors and leadership.

Prioritizing the Associate Experience

With patients and providers handling higher acuity conditions, healthcare contact center associates are fielding more complex calls than ever before. Today’s contact center associates balance the use of multiple applications and communication modalities to effectively manage calls. This can be overwhelming when associates are not confident in their ability to use these technologies effectively. Offering an engaging onboarding and training process is crucial to set associates up for success. This can be achieved by prioritizing community building among associates and exploring different learning models that suit the needs of new hire cohorts. Associates who feel engaged and equipped with the tools they need report higher morale, better performance, and more confidence when working independently.

Organizations must also stay abreast of any skills gaps their teams may have and provide continued training for contact center associates. Enriching the associate experience with professional development opportunities opens doors for upskilling and career advancement. Development opportunities also serve as an essential talent retention tool for keeping the workforce engaged. A recent McKinsey & Company report found that engaged and satisfied call center employees are:

When associates feel their company invests in their professional goals, they are empowered to do their best work and in turn provide a high-quality customer experience.

Upscaling the Customer Experience

To understand the customer, organizations need to think like one. Patients reach out to contact centers with three main expectations: that their service experience is friendly, efficient, and productive. Effective contact centers keep these expectations in the forefront of their minds at each step of the interaction.

Patients inquiring about a medical bill may express feelings of irritation, anger, or vulnerability when discussing personal health or financial matters. Coaching associates on empathy and how to efficiently build rapport is essential for making customer concerns feel validated. This reassurance of understanding and commitment to resolve their problem increases the customer’s confidence in the service they receive.

In addition to providing an empathetic experience, it is also important to acknowledge the generational differences in the healthcare service experience. For example, as Silent Generation and Baby Boomer patients age, they typically will require additional and more frequent care to address chronic health issues. This is further complicated when claims are processed through multiple payers such as Medicare and private insurance. With more frequent care and the associated complex billing processes, this can elicit more inquiries from this generation of patients. Millennial and Gen Z patients tend to be savvier when it comes to utilizing technology to engage with their care in real time. When they reach out to a contact center with a question about their medical bill, they have likely already researched their inquiry and determined that they need additional assistance from a live associate. Understanding these generational distinctions will help create a high-quality service experience for callers of any age.

Even when customers have a great experience, contact centers aren’t always able to effectively capture positive feedback data. Satisfied customers do not complete feedback surveys at the same rate as dissatisfied customers, which can skew the perceived customer experience. Incorporating tactics to target satisfied callers can help solicit additional positive feedback and provide a more holistic picture of customer experience.

Leveraging Innovative Technology

There seem to be endless forms of communication technologies out there today for customer support, including phone calls, online chat, AI chatbots, and web-based FAQs for self-service. Leveraging a healthy mixture of these technologies is necessary to meet the varying communication preferences of customers. HubSpot’s Consumer Trends report highlighted some of the key generational differences in their top three preferred modalities for seeking customer service:

As noted in these findings, phone support is still one of the most preferred modalities across all generations. Still, offering multiple avenues for support services will ensure contact centers can meet the preferences of customers of any generation. These alternative technologies can also help optimize the workload of the contact center workforce. AI Chat Bots and FAQ forums solutions can offer simple customer solutions without utilizing any workforce resources.

Protecting Sensitive Data

Healthcare contact centers process large quantities of sensitive data and personal health information in their day-to-day operations. With cybersecurity threats to healthcare organizations on the rise, it is critical for contact centers to safeguard both patient privacy and the business’ reputation. If this information falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to catastrophic consequences for healthcare organizations and bring patient care to a screeching halt. Operating contact centers remotely further amplifies this risk, especially in the new age where remote work is more common. Organizations with remote contact centers should have additional security measures in place to protect data privacy, such as VPNs, firewalls, multifactor authentication, and data encryption. These measures will keep cybercriminals and unauthorized personnel from accessing PHI.

In addition to the technological barriers, contact centers should also have robust policies in place that ensure HIPAA compliance and offer clear procedures for protecting patient privacy. These policies help contact center associates stay vigilant and take responsibility for their working environment, whether in the office or working remotely. Organizations can assess and ensure associate fluency in these policies with annual compliance training programs that refresh associate knowledge and provide updates on relevant compliance topics.

How Signature Performance Provides Contact Center Excellence

Signature Performance offers full-service contact center solutions in healthcare, including processing healthcare claims inquiries, claims resolution, referral management, and care coordination. Amanda Linse, Director of Provider Experience Center, has been with Signature for almost 16 years and has been a leader on the contact center team since the department’s inception. She shared how the contact center teams innovate and implement best practices to set associates for success:

“With most of our associates working remotely, offering several avenues for communication is a must for keeping everyone connected. Our teams use call trend data to trial improvement measures and share best practices across our respective areas of service. If a new process or procedure works well on one of our teams, we investigate what it would look like to apply that on another team. We value our culture of excellence and continually ensure our associates are equipped to succeed.”

To learn more about how Signature Performance can help take your contact center experience to the next level, reach out to our team today!


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page