The Impact of Video Calls on Call Center Agents and Operations
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.
In the last issue of Medical Call Center News, we talked about using video in your call center. Three advantages are that video can help build caller rapport, aid triage, and elevate the professionalism of your call center.
However, before you embrace video, consider these elements, and prepare accordingly:
Having the right video gear is critical to success. Don’t select the cheapest option, but pick the solution that provides great results. Just as you want your agents to have high-quality headsets, you should want high-quality video as well. Your reputation as a professional communications provider is at stake.
Look at your operations room. Specifically, what will be in the background of every shot? People walking behind agents as they talk with callers will be distracting. And if a broken chair, cluttered cubicle, or overflowing wastebasket is visible to callers, that sends the wrong message. You may need to install a backdrop for some agent stations. Don’t neglect this and hope to figure it out later.
In the audio-only world of a call center, an agent’s voice is all that matters. In a video world, appearance is important, too. And while an attractive visual helps a great deal, it isn’t essential. But good grooming is. Many call centers already have a dress code in place. And if yours doesn’t, this is a good reason to have one. But beyond attire, there are basic personal appearance issues that you should insist upon.
Though some people are naturals, it takes practice for most of us to be comfortable in front of a camera, especially those who didn’t grow up in a video-centric world where every action could be recorded.
In agent training, we tell them to smile, because callers can hear the smile in their voice. With video, a smile is even more important because callers can see it, too.
First, get your agents to use to the camera being at their station before turning it on. Teach them how to use it and what to expect. Then let them practice with coworkers. Only when they’re ready should they begin sharing their video with callers.
It’s best to roll out a video initiative in phases. Don’t announce that next Monday morning your call center is going 100 percent video-enabled. You may suddenly find yourself short-staffed. Instead, phase in the video.
Seek volunteers to pilot the program. Let the most eager ones go first. They can work out the bugs and help fine-tune your technology and processes. Building on this success, your agents who are sitting on the fence when it comes to video will begin to show interest. Work them into the schedule over time. Then deal with the outliers. It might be that a few agents will refuse. Know what you will do if this occurs. There may be an ongoing non-video role for them in your call center. If that’s okay, except it. Just be sure that all new hires are ready to embrace video.
Just as your callers will not all be ready for video at the same time, your agents don’t have to be ready either. But you do want to be able to direct video calls to video agents and keep audio-only calls to audio-only agents.
Though no one knows how quickly they move to call center video will occur, it could happen sooner than we expect. Now is the time to begin moving toward that future.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D., is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Medical Call Center News. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.
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Mix Medical Answering Service with Telephone Triage for a Winning Combination
By Kurt Duncan
When patients call their doctor’s office after hours, they have one of two objectives. Either they want medical advice, or they need assistance managing their healthcare. Although these two needs seem similar, the ideal solutions come from different sources: telephone triage for medical advice and medical answering service for everything else. Here’s why:
Let Specialists Specialize
Just as you seek a specialist to address specific healthcare issues, so too should you tap the right provider to handle specific types of phone calls. You wouldn’t expect a cardiologist to set a broken bone. You’d choose the appropriate provider for your particular healthcare need. Do the same thing when it comes to phone calls.
Medical answering services specialize in helping patients manage their healthcare needs after business hours when the office is closed. They do a great job at this, but they aren’t staffed with trained medical personnel to offer medical advice. Alternately, telephone triage call centers specialize in this exact thing. However, they’re ill-prepared to set an appointment, take a message for your office staff, or give out information about your practice.
Get the Best of Both Worlds
This means you need a two-pronged approach to most effectively deal with the after-hours needs of your patients. Start with a medical answering service, and let them do what they do best: answer calls, take messages, and give out basic information. They can also set appointments, handle cancellations, or make changes.
Then, when someone needs to talk to a healthcare professional, the medical answering service makes a smooth handoff to a telephone triage provider. This delivers a complete solution for patients and allows them to address virtually any concern they may have when their doctor’s office is closed.
Realize Cost-Effective Solutions
Though it may seem more efficient to find a telephone triage provider who also handles answering service calls, this isn’t a cost-effective solution. The service structure of a triage provider could end up costing ten or twenty dollars for a basic non-triage call. In fact, most telephone triage providers won’t even entertain this as an option.
By having a medical answering service frontend all calls and handing off triage calls to a telephone triage provider, the result is the most cost-effective solution. This allows doctors to hold down costs while still providing a holistic service to patients.
By having a medical answering service serve as the first point of contact after office hours, patients receive excellent service. They call the office number, which forwards to the medical answering service. The medical answering service will address the patients’ needs. If the caller needs a triage nurse, they’ll make a smooth handoff.
From the patients’ perspective, this is an ideal solution. This will delight them and earn their loyalty to the doctors’ practice.
Kurt Duncan is with the award-winning MedConnectUSA. Learn how their answering service can integrate with telephone triage to provide a winning combination. Visit MedConnectUSA or call 888-216-8482 for more information.
Healthcare Call Center News
Call 4 Health, a leading medical call center, and nurse triage service opened a third location in Spring Hill, TN. Headquartered in Delray Beach, FL, it also operates a center in Linthicum Heights, MD.
“The demand for call center services in the medical industry has exploded in recent years,” said Joseph Pores, Call 4 Health CEO.” With this new facility, we will be able to greatly increase our volume and bring our proprietary, innovative technology to even more hospitals and medical centers around the country.”
The expansion includes the procurement of a 15,000 square feet facility, which will house 200 call center agents and triage nurses.
Call 4 Health uses state-of-the-art technology initiatives, and currently processes up to 30,000 calls daily for 1,400 clients, creating a solution to the demand put on large health systems and hospitals. Call 4 Health serves clients nationwide in almost every state. Eighty percent of its clients are hospitals and healthcare systems, with the remaining 20 percent in-home care, hospice, and pharmaceuticals.
With the addition of the Spring Hill facility, Call 4 Health expects to increase its daily call volume to 50,000 and client base to 2,000.
TriageLogic Updates MyTriageChecklist: TriageLogic introduced the latest version of MyTriageChecklist®, a daytime telephone nurse triage software to triage and document patient phone calls. This upgrade includes new features with data analytics reports and the ability for providers to customize the care instructions their nurses give during triage calls.
MyTriageChecklist includes the ability to create custom reports. The new analytics feature allows practices to easily evaluate and monitor their clinical patient phone calls. They can see in real-time the results of patient calls, including protocols used, disposition, and outcomes.
Another new feature of myTriageChecklist allows the creation of custom orders. With this technology, once the nurse has determined the appropriate level of care, they can follow tailored instructions based on physician or practice preferences. For example, some doctors prefer their patients to use specific brands of medications when appropriate. Other examples include a specific urgent care center or ER to go to if patients need immediate treatment. This option allows the nurse to help patients without having to consult with the doctor on every call.
A Thought for Today
“There is always more goodness in the world than there appears to be because goodness is of its very nature modest and retiring.” -Evelyn Beatrice Hall