Customer service is a difficult job at the best of times. However, when your customers are patients, the dynamic becomes all the more challenging. Dealing with patients who are in crisis or pain, and on top of that, are emotionally drained, can create increasingly sensitive scenarios for call center agents to handle.
This is why handling call center conversations within the healthcare field requires a unique set of skills. In order to ensure that communication is as positive and productive as possible, here are a few tips we think all call center agents working in the healthcare space could benefit from.
Communicate Healthcare Terminology Clearly
Most call center agents working for healthcare companies will likely be comfortable with medical terminology. However, it is always important to remember that the patient or consumer may not be as familiar with that industry lingo as the agent is. This is why it’s important to ensure that jargon is avoided. Call center agents should use plain terms that patients are likely to understand so that they can get crystal-clear answers to their questions.
Speed of communication is also important. Patients are often reaching out to call centers because they are in high-stress or crisis scenarios. Tactics like call-back technology should be in place to ensure they have their concerns addressed as quickly as possible, and without being exposed to wait or lag times (which ultimately increase stress, regardless of the severity of a situation).
Communicate Empathy at All Times
Some patients may be coping with a high amount of anxiety, pain, and/or uncertainty. Customer service teams should expect these sensitive types of interactions and be prepared to manage them with tact and integrity. While this may be difficult for a customer service team to handle, always employing empathy towards the patient, or their family members, can help diffuse difficult or sensitive situations and ensure customer satisfaction both in the moment and in the long-run.
Have a Healthy HR Strategy
A strong human resources department is an important part of helping call centers in the healthcare field run smoothly. Firstly, proper protocols should be in place so that call center agents are not left scrambling to handle difficult situations. Ideally, there should be clear steps to follow for each type of inquiry and interaction. This ensures that the customer service agent is prepared for whatever happens.
Secondly, a high calibre training program should be in place for call center agents. Crisis management training can help customer service teams handle difficult situations. When staff is properly trained, they will be better at diffusing these situations and have more productive conversations with patients. These types of interactions are more likely to result in a speedy resolution of the patient’s concerns.
Following Up with Patients
Following up with patients after an interaction with a call center is crucial. When dealing with individuals who are often battling some form of illness, following up, even after a problem has been resolved, can make a big difference. It provides an opportunity for the patient to give feedback that can help improve the customer service team’s performance in the future.
While all call center agents deal with challenging interactions with their customers, those that work in healthcare have an especially difficult job to do. Customer service teams dealing with this population must be prepared with proper training, efficient protocols, and lots of empathy. These techniques and skills can help ensure that patients, who deserve a high level of care and service, can effectively resolve their problem or receive a quick answer to their inquiry.