The November 2014 Issue

Attitude Is Key

By Peter L. DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, publisher and editorStanding groggy-eyed in a fast-food restaurant, contemplating my breakfast options, the positive, friendly demeanor of the girl behind the counter captured my attention. Suddenly she saw someone out of the corner of her eye, and her smile widened. “Good morning Jimmy,” she called out. I assumed Jimmy was a friend.

I was wrong. Jimmy was an older man with a weathered face and considerable limp. He headed straight to an open space at the counter and with much effort, produced a handful of change cupped in his twisted hands. He spilled a few coins on the counter; the girl collected them and rang up an unspoken order.

Then she poured his coffee, meticulously mixed in sugar and cream, topped it off, popped on a lid, and presented it to a grateful Jimmy – all with a smile. She did this with all the care of someone making her own cup. She served Jimmy happily, doing much more than was expected. Her actions framed the rest of my day. I can only guess what it did for Jimmy’s.

I suspect her attitude of cheerfully going the extra mile was so much a part of her that it had become habit. What a difference her positive attitude made for Jimmy and me, as well as for the other customers and her co-workers.

Do you have someone like this young lady in your call center? What if all your staff could be like her? Caller satisfaction would jump, complaints and problems would drop, and your call center would be an even better place to work.

Whether it’s pouring coffee or answering the phone, employees with positive attitudes make a huge difference.

Peter DeHaan is the publisher and editor of Medical Call Centers News and AnswerStat magazine.

Sound Telecom Builds Out Website with Secure Messaging Solutions

Sound Telecom added a section to their website to address secure messaging for medical professionals. The use of text messaging is on the rise, but SMS text messages are not an intrinsically secure form of communication. Healthcare organizations must abide by HIPAA and HITECH and safeguard information. They put themselves at risk if they are not using truly secure messaging platforms. Protection of information and keeping compliant with federal regulations are the two biggest reasons to pursue secure messaging.

Sound Telecom, providers of medical answering services for hundreds of healthcare professionals, has been working with the leaders in the secure messaging arena to ensure the secure communication of information. This is not limited to relaying messages from the answering service to the organization but also allows companies to communicate securely throughout their own ranks.

Sound Telecom feels strongly about the importance of secure messaging and is doing everything they can to help their customers be prepared and stay ahead of regulations and the competition.


Delta Dental of Michigan Contact Center Achieves Certification

The Delta Dental of Michigan customer contact center has been certified as a Center of Excellence by BenchmarkPortal, a leading contact center research and consulting organization. “Only the top 10 percent of those benchmarked annually achieve this distinction,” said BenchmarkPortal CEO Bruce Belfiore. “Achieving Center of Excellence certification is an acknowledgment of strong management and leadership in the call center industry.”

To achieve certification as a Center of Excellence, a company must undergo a rigorous benchmarking process that compares the organization’s operational metrics to those of its peers using the world’s largest database of contact center metrics. During this process, BenchmarkPortal experts audit and verify key data from the contact center applying for certification.

Key performance indicators, such as first call resolution, cost per call, call waiting time, customer satisfaction, agent satisfaction, and utilization of human resources are considered. BenchmarkPortal scientifically gauges how the contact center compares to other centers in the same industry.

The certification indicates that Delta Dental of Michigan “delivers superior customer service within a responsible cost structure,” according to Belfiore. “A great contact center operation reflects its management’s passion for balancing the demands of high quality and low costs. Delta Dental of Michigan has shown its ability to achieve that balance through its objective performance metrics. We have validated its metrics and have certified that Delta Dental of Michigan is, indeed, among the best in its industry.”

Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, and its affiliates in Arkansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Tennessee collectively are among the largest dental plan administrators in the nation.


AAACN White Paper: Nurse Residency Programs Urgently Needed

The specialty of ambulatory care nursing could be especially hard-hit by a predicted shortage in the nursing workforce. To help meet the challenge, the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing has released a white paper, The Need for an Ambulatory Nurse Residency Program. The paper outlines the need for a formalized, competency-based nurse residency program for all nurses new to ambulatory practice.

According to AAACN, implementing such residencies would both meet workforce needs and fully prepare RNs for the complex and demanding environment of ambulatory care.

Available online, The Need for an Ambulatory Nurse Residency Program was written by the AAACN Ambulatory Nursing Taskforce for all RNs practicing in ambulatory care settings: nursing staff, educators in service and academia, managers, and administrators. The need for ambulatory RN residency programs is intensified by:

  • The gap between nursing education and clinical, hands-on practice to put into context what nurses learn in the classroom.
  • High turnover rates among new graduate nurses and the toll this takes on nursing staff, patient care, and organizational finances.
  • Complex, stressful environments unique to ambulatory care that contribute to patient safety concerns, practice errors, and turnover.
  • The future need for more ambulatory RNs with a looming shortage and with few practices hiring new RN graduates.
  • Variables in ambulatory orientation and need for standardization to ensure a competent and confident ambulatory RN.


Communicate with More Customers via a Multilingual Answering Service

Sound Telecom published an article detailing how multilingual answering services work and the ways organizations can use them to their advantage.

Sound Telecom states that there are 30 million people in the United States whose primary language is not English, and that number will grow in coming years. Businesses that are not equipped to service potential clients and existing customers who speak other languages aren’t setting themselves up for success. The piece explores the mechanics of how multilingual answering services work and why organizations should consider working with a call center that can provide such services.

In “How Multilingual Answering Services Work,” author Andrew Tillery explains that Sound Telecom supports more than 220 different languages. To do this, they tap a third party translation service to speak with callers, respond appropriately, and gather needed information. However, there is one language other than English that Sound Telecom handles in-house. The BPO identified the Hispanic population as one that would make up 20 percent of all people in the US within the next few years, so they put together a team of bilingual answering service agents to handle Spanish/English accounts.

“Building out this multilingual answering service offering was a no-brainer for us with the ability to communicate with more people in their native language,” Tillery stated. “Enhancing customer service and growing businesses is what we are all about, and so is this program.”

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