Open enrollment is one of the busiest and most stressful times of the year for healthcare insurance providers and consumers alike. In fact, many healthcare insurers start planning for open enrollment the minute the last season has come to a close. This is good thinking, as no company wants to find themselves getting ready only a few weeks before November 1st. Regardless, one of the main challenges during this time period is communication, with the cumulative call center volume in the federal marketplace totaling more than 14,569,000 in 2016 alone, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medical Services.
It makes sense: Customers are likely to be overwhelmed by the information they need to sift through in order to make serious decisions about their healthcare coverage. They are bound to have questions for call center agents. This, compounded by their desire to obtain the same level of customer service as they would from their favorite retail and tech brands, leads to massive spikes in call volume for most healthcare call centers. And while it might be tempting to forgo quality customer interactions and neglect the customer experience during this extremely stressful time of year, it’s of the utmost importance that call centers aim to please. After all, this is how customer relationships are made or broken.
How can your call center improve customer interactions during the most important time of year for consumers’ healthcare choices? That’s easy. In our latest tip sheet, you will learn the most important steps to take to get your call center into gear.
(Get the full tip sheet here!)
Digital-savvy customers don’t want to waste time and energy calling agents when their answers can just as easily be found using self-service. Employing self-service options for customer interactions, like making sure your website clearly identifies in-network providers, will remove an unnecessary burden on agents, while keeping customers happy.
One of the most important issues call centers face during open enrollment is scheduling their staff. During open enrollment, call centers typically have the biggest total staff on board as well as new staff joining their teams. In 2015, there was a 40% increase in new call center employees brought on-board to deal with the expected onslaught of healthcare insurance signups during this time period.
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According to an Accenture study, consumers’ top two complaints were 1) having to contact customer service agents multiple times; and 2) being kept on hold for too long. Customers hate waiting on hold. There’s no nuance here. Subsequently, agents start the transaction at a disadvantage with a less-than pleased customer. It’s a lose-lose.
Many call centers hire additional temporary staff to deal with open enrollment. Healthcare.gov increased their staffing levels by 40%. Even the highest quality agents will need training and time to get up-to-speed and to effectively handle their work during peak times.
While November may trigger holiday shopping for most, for healthcare insurers it signals the stress of open enrollment and the challenges that arise specifically from a time where consumers compare plans in order to choose the one that best suits them.
Don’t get left behind: Learn how to get your call center ready for open enrollment with our tip sheet, which you can download here.