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 which 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 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 on next Monday morning your call center is going 100 percent video enabled. You may suddenly find yourself short staffed. Instead phase in 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 the 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, PhD, 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.