Anyone who’s ever called up a large organization knows the pain of waiting for an agent to answer while insincere slogans about valuing you repeat ad infinitum. Calling again doesn’t solve the problem because it’s hard to catch the right time when there are enough agents. If the caller ever reaches the agent, they take out on the agents all the pent up anger from the waiting.
What you don’t want is for this to be the experience in your hospital or health organization’s call center. But even call center directors with the best intentions will find wait times a challenging problem to solve. Hiring more agents to match peak level demand would leave them idle during non-peak times and become an unsustainable option in the long run due to high labor costs.
This was the dilemma of one hospital we worked with. They wanted to figure out how to reduce annoying wait times to improve patient acquisition and satisfaction. We solved this issue by helping them shift their inbound demand to outbound callbacks, which helped them smooth out spikes in call volume, reduce average hold times, and make an additional 50,000 calls in a year—without having to hire more agents.
Automated callback scheduling
But it wasn’t enough to just tell agents to line things up as a callback task. They were, in fact, already doing that, but mostly using ad hoc tools and sticky notes and their own initiative. This resulted in long wait times in between callbacks, plenty of idle time, and even failures to call back.
As part of our solution, we employed a callback system that captured contact details, automatically allocated agents, and handled the calls and retries.
ASAP vs Scheduled callbacks
When talking about callbacks, the most common type is an as-soon-as-possible callback typically made 30 to 60 minutes after the call request. However, this doesn’t really solve the peak period problem since it’s still within the same window. Moreover, the unpredictability of the callback time could increase patients’ frustration with the whole process.
That’s why we worked with the hospital’s call center to support scheduled callbacks. By moving callbacks to another time of the caller’s choosing, they smoothed out demand and lowered telco costs by reducing their average handle times while creating better experiences for their potential and existing patients.
In addition to callbacks triggered by an inbound call, we also helped the hospital transform their inbound calls by offering ways to request callbacks through online forms, like those that are part of the hospital’s provider directory.
Talk a stroll around the corridors of any call center and you’ll see agents struggling with a multitude of tabs as they wrestle with their telephony solution, patient management system, and scheduling tools. That’s because most call centers aren’t specifically designed for patient relationship management, resulting in inefficiency and inaccuracy.
As part of the system we deployed for the hospital, we provided integration between the telephony solution and patient data so that they can immediately see the patient’s recent actions, make recommendations as part of ongoing marketing campaigns, and any outstanding issues. For example, if John’s daughter missed her appointment, the agent immediately knows about it during the call with John so that she can offer to reschedule even if John had his own appointment in mind. John is delighted, appointments are up, and the call is shorter.
Giving a good call experience to patients doesn’t have to mean driving up labor costs. An automated callback system with an integrated patient relationship management solution can help your call center boost patient acquisition, retain patients, and reduce telco costs—without hiring more agents.