Satisfy Your Patients–Close Your Call Centers

Five hours until the train arrives in Boston.  Last night I was afraid I might have to cancel the trip, all because of a tie.  Those of you who have played along for a while may remember that I am a Type A and am still able to read at or above my age level.  Yet when I selected the tie for tonight’s dinner I got the ‘You’re not really going to wear that tie with that shirt’ look.

Without flinching, I placed the tie in my bag.  Time will tell if the Beau Brummel, man about town, made the right choice or whether he will be hoisted by his own petard.

It occurred to me that sometimes the most obvious of things prove to be far from obvious.  For example, call centers.  When people call an organization, a hospital, why are they calling?  Think about this before answering.  They are not calling because they want to talk to someone.  In fact, calling an organization is the only time people place a call when they really do not want to talk with someone.

The only reason they call, the only reason the phone is ringing is because they need something, information, information they could have been provided earlier but were not.  Because of that they are forced to do something none of us ever wants to do—call a company, fight the IVR, and listen to a recorded voice tell them how important their call is.  Organizations that really want to mess with your mind will tell you that the call may be recorded for quality purposes.

We call because we want information.  We would walk naked over hot calls if there was any other way to get this information.  Why?  Because we know that half of the time we call we do not get the information we need.  We implicitly agree by calling that we will play Russian roulette with those manning the call center betting that the person who answers the phone will also be able to answer the question.

In general, calls to call centers fall into one of three categories;

  • Queries—what time are visiting hours over
  • Needs—send me a copy of my bill
  • Complaints—this one does not need an example

Let us say your hospital gets one thousand calls a day and that the fully loaded cost to answer each call is thirty dollars.  That means your hospital spends almost eleven million dollars a year to be able to talk to people who are not all that thrilled to have to talk to your people.

Does spending these eleven million dollars every year improve patient satisfaction?  Of course not.

So then, why bother having call centers?  What should the hospital’s vision or mission statement be for its call center?  Do not even think about using phrases like best in class, customer service, retain customers, reduce costs.

From the perspective of the hospital its vision for the call center should be to make the call center obsolete.

Figure out which of the three reasons people call—queries, needs, complaints—and put it online.  Design the heck out of a patient portal using design thinking and UI/UX—if you think about designing something that has the opposite of user experience of your HER you will be on the right track. 

I am talking with a hospital about re-engineering their call centers and CRM.  Their call centers close at six-thirty Monday through Friday.  Patient dissatisfaction.

The last time I checked the Internet does not close.

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2 thoughts on “Satisfy Your Patients–Close Your Call Centers

  1. Hmmm. Most people in hospitals are Medicare age with Medicare aged friends. Many do not understand the internet nor have access to it. My mom is one of them. Maybe in 10 more years this idea would have worth but many of thus age only know how to use s phone …. Maybe a basic cell phone. They are not in a tech savvy world like you.

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