Digital Empowerment Boosts Patient Satisfaction, Improves Contact Center Performance

Digital Empowerment Boosts Patient Satisfaction, Improves Contact Center Performance

As a first line of defense for many patient inquiries, call center staff can make or break the patient experience. Lower wait times have been proven to improve a patient’s perception of access to an organization. On the other side of the coin, 75% of patients who abandon a call don’t call back.

However, many contact centers struggle with challenges like large call volumes and attrition, which can negatively impact the patient experience. In fact, four out of 10 leaders cite staff turnover as a main driver of inefficiencies in their contact center.

To reduce hold times and optimize handling times, organizations often decide to onboard new contact center staff. However, this stopgap measure will not work in the long term. Instead, organizations should focus on elevating their contact center into a connection center.

By diverting rote tasks to other channels and empowering patients to take a more active role in their care, healthcare organizations can lift the burden of call volumes to make way for a more connected, satisfying contact center experience—for agents and patients alike.

Diverting tasks that hinder contact center connection

Nearly 85% of provider organizations limit patients to only scheduling appointments through the front desk or contact center. The result: a large portion of contact center workload ends up supporting appointment scheduling and other basic, repetitive tasks. As frustrating as this is for staff, it’s also irritating for patients: 61% reported skipping a doctor appointment due to challenges associated with scheduling.

To better support contact center agents, organizations should pay close attention to their most common patient call needs and find ways to digitize them, if they can. For instance, intelligent patient self-scheduling has risen in popularity. Nearly one-quarter of providers note that implementing patient self-scheduling is one of their biggest operational priorities, and research shows that patient appointments increase when patients are empowered to self-schedule.

While contact centers have long been the norm for appointment scheduling, new rules-based digital tools can help shift up to 20% of appointments from traditional phone calls to self-scheduling. Likewise, cumbersome tasks like appointment reminders, follow-ups and clunky referral processes can all be moved into automated or self-serve solutions to streamline the patient experience and lighten the daily call volume.

Think outside the (call) box for patient interactions

Patients may prefer scheduling their appointments online, but in some cases, they might still want some human interaction, even if it’s just to ask a quick question. So, what happens when patients have to wait an average of four minutes on hold just to ask about billing processes or directions to your office? The gains made from a positive self-scheduling experience suddenly deteriorate.

Real-time chat strikes the right balance between interpersonal connection and digital efficiency. This HIPAA-compliant tool can help connect call center agents to patients online for one-on-one discussions. It can also be pre-loaded with answers to common questions to deliver information quickly and consistently.

An added bonus: Using chat functionality can create a major advantage for healthcare organizations. 96% of providers say that they aren’t currently utilizing chat functionality to reduce the burden of inbound patient communications. Meanwhile, the vast majority of customers (86%) prefer to get answers from a chatbot instead of a web form. This means there is ample greenspace for providers who want to stay ahead of the competition and meet this customer preference while lowering call volumes to improve agent workloads.

If you’re still hesitant about onboarding chat, consider one of our clients: a 100-provider, Colorado-based GI practice that onboarded both self-schedule tools and real-time chat with the goal of reducing call volume. Before deploying chat, the organization estimated it would receive around eight inbound chat inquiries per week. But within weeks of the tool going live, contact center staff received hundreds of chats per week, including many inquiries which would have previously been handled over the phone. Patient response to the new chat process has been overwhelmingly positive.

Everyone benefits from improved operations

As contact centers become increasingly important to organizations’ patient engagement strategy, supporting contact center agents and diversifying communications channels will help lighten the load. Working now to identify which tasks can be digitized and offering patients new ways to reach your organization will help improve their experience and create more connected, meaningful and sustainable contact center operations.

We offer a powerful self-scheduling solution that can help you achieve these goals. Schedule a free demo today to see how it can transform your contact center into a true connection center.