While it may seem attractive to “automate everything” or speed up conversations in the contact center, it’s important to keep in mind that first impressions truly count. People calling in during the busiest times are often new or prospective customers, without the same frame of reference or peace of mind long-time customers have. If they experience long wait times or have interactions with agents who are not fully trained, they will come away with a poor impression and may never return. Studies show that customers say the service they receive influences who they choose to do business with, and at peak times, insurance companies and their contact center representatives – with the right systems in place – can deliver exceptional service and create loyal customers for life.
As contact volumes grow, so does potential profit. Through carefully planned staffing and advanced training tools and programs, healthcare insurance companies can maximize opportunities to connect with prospects and customers in friendly ways, augmented by information. Contact volumes are growing faster than ever on mobile devices as the preferred channel, so ensuring a great mobile experience that moves from self-help to “closing the deal” with expert agents is proving more important than ever to successful enrollment campaigns.
Here are a few ways healthcare insurance companies and even healthcare providers can prepare for and succeed during the busiest times of the year.
Review trends and data from the most recent high-volume period, and analytically anticipate future needs. After every peak season, document learnings to continually improve. Once you are in the season, operate in real-time, hiring, onboarding and training the best people you can find, and investing in new team members who will ultimately require less management. From those new seasonal hires, you will undoubtedly find talent you can promote into full-time roles.
Consider the volume of the previous peak season but integrate data you’ve been accumulating throughout the year. Take into account new offerings that coincide with enrollment, and train agents in new promotions that will drive sales as part of an outstanding, helpful and personalized conversation. Forecast and create customized staffing plans, so trained experts are empowered to succeed a few months before volumes start to rise.
Pair your best agents with new agents and find creative ways to inspire, support, and incentivize great outcomes. The best teams at peak times are a combination of new and more seasoned specialists, including successful “ambassadors” who are enthusiastic about the brand and the opportunity to truly support customers looking for the best possible healthcare insurance offering. There is nothing more motivating than authentic confidence in the company and its services.
Invest in Technology
Whether your contact center is in a single facility, in distributed facilities, or cloud-based, including agents and managers who work from home, make sure you have assessed your network bandwidth, hardware, and software needs. Put into place intelligent systems which make it possible to deliver a consistent, omnichannel customer experience across voice, web, chat, social and mobile, and integrate data and analytics with AI solutions that scale personalized service, while also ensuring regulatory compliance. Investing in omnichannel customer relationship management technology is mission-critical to achieving competitive differentiation.
Monitor, Manage and Motivate
With a mix of many new agents and more experienced experts working with customers, it is critical to have a quality assurance system in place to monitor as many conversations as possible, including converting voice to text, so it becomes searchable and scalable in assessing every conversation. Make monitoring, management, and motivation transparent to the entire team and put in place positive measures and even gamification and rewards for interactions well done!
Succeeding in the healthcare insurance and delivery worlds as they continue in their digital transformations requires fresh thinking, innovation, and a competitive spirit that is rooted in truly helping people. When families are hit with illnesses and expenses, the agents representing healthcare companies are in an important position to listen, to empathize, to explain, to answer questions, to provide guidance in which policies and services to choose, and to ensure a quality of service that transcends day-to-day events.
With an aging population, with people living longer, with unprecedented growth in many of the most serious diseases, including diabetes, congestive heart failure, cancer and more, we need navigators more than ever and many of those navigators are found on the other end of the phone, or on the other end of an online chat. These are important jobs for people who can make a genuine difference in the lives of patients and families challenged by medical issues, while also making a genuine difference in the profitability and sustainable growth of insurers and providers.
It can be hard to fathom a life without customer service in it. Before remote desktop support, live chat and other contact center solutions, there were complex phone trees and outsourced call centers and before that there were buggy IVR systems and telephone switchboards connecting you to the store you purchased the product from.
The past few decades have seen the business world sway multiple times between call center outsourcing and internal call center operations.