What Do Your Medical Call Center Analytics Tell You?
“You only get one chance to make a first impression” is a phrase we’ve heard forever. In today’s consumer-driven society, your medical call center or the front office staff members answering patient calls represent the face of your practice — the first impression.
Do you have real-time transparency and the right metrics for monitoring that first impression, the patient call experience? Most phone systems provide standard reporting like total calls, voicemails, abandoned calls, and hold times. While quantities are important, these reports fall short in providing insight as to WHY the quantities are what they are.
Is the Data You Have, the Data that Matters?
How can you improve the metrics and a caller’s first impression if you don’t understand why the metrics look as they do?
The key to answering that question lies in the data contained in today’s advanced patient engagement platforms. These solutions provide real time visibility into actionable data that can help you drive operational improvement within your practice, improve patient flow, and increase patient acquisition.
When you can plot out call volume by day, time, type of call, and provider, and you can see those data points over time, it starts to become clearer. Right-sizing staffing is helpful, but there’s so much more that can be measured and analyzed.
- Have you had providers concerned that their new patient volume is lower than others but you can’t figure out why?
- Have you wondered why a large majority of calls are coming in for one area of the practice, or one specific function, but you can’t figure out why?
- Have you ever wondered why the phone volume to patient volume ratio is so skewed? What is generating all these calls?
- Have you ever felt as if you were adequately staffed with skilled call center agents, but you can’t figure out why the phones continue to ring off the hook, causing you to ask the office staff to pitch in during their downtime?
To the call data set, add the allocation of new patients, recent marketing campaigns, and other factors like time of year. These and other data points can shed new light on not just the patient experience, but can also give insight to operational challenges.
Advanced patient platforms let you select the metrics “YOU” want to monitor. This ensures you are tracking the critical KPIs that position you to accomplish your practice’s goals and DON’T leave you with so many unanswered questions.
A View to Improve
With real-time data at your fingertips, dashboards enable rapid decision-making through insight and comparisons between today’s data and historical data which enables trend spotting, suggests ways to improve, and enables prediction of optimum staffing levels.
While what happens during a call matters, it’s also important to look at call outcomes – at the end of the call, the agent is either transferring the caller, taking a message, or scheduling an appointment.
Are those taking place according to the protocols and workflows you’ve established? And what is the downstream impact of what happened according to that agent’s actions on the call?
Analytics open up a world of possibilities to improve the experiences of both patients and practice members and provide the data needed to address daily challenges. For example:
- A patient that has called three times and still hasn’t heard back is now very frustrated. With an advanced engagement platform, this unfortunate event can be flagged, not ignored or unrecognized, allowing you to route that patient to someone who can respond more effectively.
- A provider is upset that the new process you just implemented to improve patient allocation among all providers is not being followed, concluding the process is broken!
But is it?
Your advanced engagement platform should be able to show you that there is indeed a discrepancy, identify where the problem is, and allow you to explain, with data, that the protocols for them seeing new patients are too tight and need to be adjusted in order for them to receive more new patients.
Easing the Strain
In small practices with only 1-2 people answering the phones, the traditional answer to high phone volume was hiring an answering service, where the operator can intercept calls not answered after a set time, take a message, and then deliver messages in bulk at a later time — not much different from routing calls to voicemail.
We all know this doesn’t answer your real question:
“How could I possibly know how many people I need to staff for the phones and at what time so that all calls are answered with a high level of service and I don’t have agents just sitting idle.”
Within as little as a week, your engagement platform’s analytics tools should start to identify the trends and begin to populate an agent utilization grid that will help define how understaffed or overstaffed you are at given times of the day, the types of calls that are generating the most traffic, how long those particular calls are lasting, and more.
With this information at your disposal, you can now make informed decisions on necessary adjustments and measure the outcomes, which lines up with the Lean Six Sigma thought process of “Plan Do Check Act.”
Know the Limitations
While analytics can track an amazing amount of useful data, the information doesn’t address the subjective side. For example, that call that seemed to go far over your allotted time frame; did it drag on so long because the patient wanted to go into great detail about what they were experiencing and why they had called? Or is there an agent training problem that needs to be addressed? Analytics are great at disclosing what, but shouldn’t necessarily be looked to for answers to why.
The takeaway? Look for trends and performance metrics based on large data sets rather than a single occurrence or even a single week of data. Typically, 3 months is a good chunk of data for comparing Monday call volumes to Tuesday and the like. Don’t forget to factor in seasonal considerations, such as an orthopedic center anticipating more injuries during football season than baseball season.
Avoid the temptation to make big changes in response to small occurrences. Remember the 90/10 rule: if something only happens occasionally, it likely shouldn’t be the trigger for creating or changing policies or protocols. Going beneath the numbers lets you discover what’s really happening and respond accordingly.
Feed the Crave
Are you settling for a call center that often stands between you and satisfied patients? Advanced patient engagement software for your medical call center gives you opportunities to impress your patients every day. They empower the positive personal experiences your patients crave and allow your team to perform like the superstars they are.