Running a call center is hard and running a healthcare call center is even harder. There is simply too much to do and not enough time to do it. First, there’s a 24/7 aspect of call center life. And if you’re call center doesn’t yet operate around-the-clock, you know that’s coming. It’s only a matter of time.
Then there are the regular duties of running a call center. This includes hiring, training, and scheduling staff. Next there is call monitoring, side-by-side coaching, and quality assurance (QA) evaluations. There’s employee conflicts to deal with, caller complaints to handle, and bosses to appease. And don’t forget technology to manage, budgets to follow, and ever-changing expectations to meet. And that’s just the normal stuff.
Now factor in the unexpected, the emergencies. This includes technology issues, such as telephony problems, software glitches, and hardware failures. And what about a down system? Other unwelcome surprises include an upper management edict to trim payroll by 10 percent, staff unrest—bordering on rebellion, and an unexpected onslaught of calls you’re not prepared to handle.
Add to this the prevailing mission throughout healthcare: do more, do it for less, and do it better. How’s a call center supposed to survive? What’s a call center manager supposed to do? Though you may wonder if it’s a good time for a career change, a better approach might be to work with call center consultants who can help you successfully navigate the labyrinth of problems and opportunities.
David Taylor happened upon the healthcare call center industry by accident. What started out as a summer job between his freshman and sophomore years of college turned into steady part-time employment throughout the school year, which resulted in a job offer when he graduated. After a few promotions David realized he had established a career in the call center industry. Before long he was running a call center. And he loved it.
The call center presented ever-changing challenges to hold his interest, possessed the reality that every day would be different, and held the vast potential that the call center could fundamentally change how his organization dealt with patients, their caregivers, and the public. It was an exciting time.
However, David was smart enough to know he couldn’t do it alone. Aside from developing a strong team internally, David tapped a group of leading healthcare call center consultants to help him better handle the bigger issues he encountered. They also assisted with strategic planning for the call center.
A year later the call center consultants provided technical support after his company outsourced their entire IT department to an offshore tech firm. Though the IT outsourcers knew their main job well, they were clueless when it came to the unique requirements of call center technology. Fortunately, David had his call center consultants available to help him whenever he needed to address technical issues that he and his team couldn’t handle on their own.
Later, the call center consultants’ technical team began working on new projects for David. They programmed a tighter integration between his organization’s website and call center system. Next, they automated a database conversion that saved thousands of hours of manual data entry, along with the inevitable errors that rekeying information would cause. For their final project they solved a tricky, intermittent network problem that affected the call center and which the offshore IT firm couldn’t figure out.
At this point, David got a new job managing an integrated call center at a large multi-location healthcare network. One of his first moves in his new job was to get his valued call center consultants put on retainer to help him do his job better. As soon as he could, he added a line item for consulting to his department’s budget.
One thing the hospital and call center struggled with was mastering their HIPAA training. It wasn’t that the staff didn’t understand HIPAA or committed errors in properly handling PHI (protected health information), it was that they lacked a cohesive, comprehensive HIPAA training program, along with documentation to prove employee participation. Each employee should undergo regular HIPAA training, but the hospital’s approach was haphazard and inconsistent.
Fortunately, David’s call center consultants had a HIPAA training and certification program in place. This was an online course with a live instructor, which took under one hour for each employee to complete. At the end of the training, the consultants provided complete, verified documentation of each employee’s successful participation.
This earned David accolades throughout the management levels at the hospital.
David’s next call center position took him to another hospital. This hospital was a bit smaller, but his role was much larger: director of call center operations. The hospital had just undergone a transition to the industry-leading Infinity system. With the system installed, the staff trained, and the initial transition complete, the call center director, who was leading the transition, resigned suddenly for personal matters.
That’s when David joined the team. Though he knew of the Infinity system’s reputation, he never had the opportunity to use one in his prior positions. The chance to use the industry’s best was all the incentive he needed to take this new job. Of course, it paid more, too.
Again he put in a call to his faithful call center consultants, who were glad to take on this new role to help David fully optimize the Infinity system and get the most out of its powerful capabilities.
With the infinity system fully optimized, David kept his call center consultants on retainer to help him best address new opportunities that came up. He was glad he did. Just as things at the call center were settling into a comfortable and satisfying rhythm, the hospital bought out their cross-town competitor.
This acquired hospital had their own call center, which now fell under David’s purview. Frankly, he needed a new challenge. But then he found out just how big this challenge was. Though this new call center had many problems to correct, David identified the biggest trouble as a training issue. Their lack of training, inconsistent training, and poor training permeated the whole call center. It resulted in a low level of customer service and a high level of complaints. David needed to address this and address it fast.
Again, his call center consultants could provide the professional training he sought for this needy call center. Not only did they handle the retraining of existing staff, but they also dealt with the on boarding and initial training of new staff. Within a few months the positive effects of proper training were improving service levels and decreasing complaints. Though it would take a couple years to completely turn things around, the bleeding had stopped. The patient would live.
The hospital, however, didn’t stop their acquisition spree. They also bought a large medical answering service. A call center answering service was a new concept to David. He had to learn the unique nature of dealing with doctors and clinics in a call center environment. They were his clients, but the callers were the clients’ patients. This dynamic provided the next learning curve for David to master.
With the two hospital call centers coming along nicely, David dedicated his focus to the medical answering service. He implemented many new processes and developed advance initiatives to help them provide better service to the medical clients and the patients they served.
One new wrinkle in running a medical answering service was the billing component. Each one of its clients needed to receive an invoice each month for the work the answering service did. It didn’t take long for David to realize that over half of the clients were being under billed. This represented lost revenue the medical answering service needed to expand its offerings. Furthermore, he had grave doubts about the accuracy of most of the invoices they generated. This wasn’t due to staff negligence, but instead was a factor of the answering service’s antiquated billing system.
Though David could have bought a new billing system designed specifically for answering services, he chose to outsource the billing function to his call center consultants. They had a team in place—and the technology to support them—to produce accurate bills and conduct rate analyses to identify under charged clients.
For the first billing cycle the consultants handled, the total amount billed took a 20 percent increase. Over the next year, they rolled out rate increases to the unprofitable clients, which produced another 35 percent increase. This represented a month-after-month revenue bump. David took this found money and used it to expand the medical answering service, hiring much-needed staff and upgrading its systems. Over time they grew to become the area’s premier medical answering service.
David’s tenure in the healthcare call center industry has been a successful one, but he’s not done. There’s much more he wants to accomplish, even though he’s already accomplished a great deal. Though he’s a talented individual, with a drive to succeed, he shares his record of success with the call center consultants who have been with him in every position he’s held, every step of the way. And that’s just how he wants things to continue.
Contact Call Center Sales Pro today at 800-901-7706 to learn more about their comprehensive call center consulting capabilities. You’ll be glad you did.