By Peter L DeHaan, PhD
If you work on the frontlines at your call center, you already know what I’m about to say: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) – more commonly referred to as Obamacare – has people upset. As a result, the number of frustrated, angry, and even hostile people you talk to every day has increased. The bad news is that I expect things to get worse.
I, of course, have my own tale of woe: two double-digit increases in my healthcare premiums since the law’s passage and now the determination that I must pay payroll taxes on said premiums. And my frustration is minimal compared to many.
For managers of healthcare call centers, I encourage you to make a plan to deal with this increase in caller wrath. Educate your workforce about ACA, going beyond what they need to know to serve callers’ basic questions. Information is key. Develop a policy on how to handle ACA-incensed callers.
Most important, provide additional agent training. Coach staff on what to say – and not say – when confronted with a caller’s invective. Support your agents. They’re attacked all day, so understand and encourage them when their one less-than-ideal response. Then go further to teach techniques to keep them from internalizing caller ire, letting one caller’s words affect the next call, or even worse, taking a smoldering fury home with them.
For agents, avail yourselves to every resource your company offers. If it lacks some of the above recommendations, pursue these on your own. Make your own plan and educate yourself on how to deal with the onslaught of negativity. Doing so will help you succeed in your work and lessen its toil.
Obamacare isn’t going away, but armed with the right tools, we can minimize how it affects us – at least at work.