5 ways the average healthcare call centre is losing customers

In a post-pandemic commerce world, call centres are the lifeblood of the customer experience for the healthcare industry. Even older customers have become accustomed to (and expect) covid-accelerated technology like omnichannel communications and a customer experience that can be actually more personalised than old-school face-to-face interactions.

What many healthcare call centres don’t realise is that they are losing customers every day because of poor customer service. And to be clear, they may not even know that they have poor customer service — it’s just that call centre technology has advanced so rapidly in recent years that the average healthcare call centre is now lagging behind customer expectations.

For this reason alone, healthcare call centres should now be seen as profit centres rather than cost centres, and should be invested in accordingly. Don’t take our word for it — increasing customer retention by 5% can produce more than a 25% increase in profit.

Here are 5 ways in which the average healthcare call centre is losing customers, and how they can improve:

1. Lack of omnichannel communications

In a world where consumers can order groceries, book holidays, and even see a doctor online, it’s no surprise that they expect to be able to communicate with their healthcare provider in the same way. But many healthcare call centres are still using an outdated system where calls are the only channel of communication available.

What this means is that customers have to wait on hold for long periods of time, only to be transferred to another department once they do get through. And if they try to reach out on social media or live chat, they often get automated responses or are told to call the call centre. In a world where social media is king, this is an easy way to lose multiple customers from just one bad customer experience.

Omnichannel communications need to be at the heart of any healthcare call centre strategy. This means making it easy for customers to reach you on their preferred channel — whether that’s phone, email, social media, or live chat. It also means having a single view of the customer so that you can provide a seamless experience no matter how they choose to communicate with you.

2. Not empowering knowledgeable call centre agents

Another way in which healthcare call centres are losing customers is by not empowering their agents to be able to solve customer problems. In many cases, agents are only able to provide basic information or are unable to transfer calls to the right department. In an industry where 84% of surveyed customers specifically credited knowledgeable agents as a key factor in their satisfaction, this is a big problem.

Compound this with dealing with something as important and emotional as healthcare services, and it’s essential that your call centre agents have that knowledge in order to provide some empathy. They should be able to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and understand their needs. Only then will they be able to provide the high-quality customer service that is expected in the healthcare industry.

To foster this knowledge and compassion, help your call centre agents by giving them all of the data they need to have an understanding conversation with your customers. Things like having up-to-date data on caller ages, health issues, and policy status go a long way to making the interaction more personal and helpful.

3. Not fully leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about AI (and its subset ML) and its potential to transform customer service. And while it’s true that AI can automate simple tasks like providing information or booking appointments, many healthcare call centres are not leveraging AI to its full potential.

In particular, AI can be used to improve the customer experience by providing personalised recommendations, proactively addressing issues, and even predicting customer needs. For example, if a customer calls to book an appointment for a specific time and date, AI can check the availability and make suggestions for alternative times that would work better based on the customer’s schedule.

AI can also be used to identify customer sentiment and predict when they are likely to churn. This allows healthcare call centres to take proactive steps to address any issues before they become a bigger problem. Where agents may account for your biggest contact centre resourcing cost – having AI manage some of the load and re-routing to agents where they are best utilised, makes for smart business

4. Not using the cloud

Another way in which healthcare call centres are losing customers is by not using the cloud. The cloud provides numerous benefits that can improve the customer experience, including the ability to scale quickly, offer omnichannel communications, and provide a personalised customer experience.

In particular, the cloud can help healthcare call centres quickly scale up or down as needed. This is important in an industry where customer demand can fluctuate rapidly, such as during a pandemic. By being able to quickly scale up or down as needed, healthcare call centres can ensure that they always have the capacity to meet customer demand. Crucially, it can also reduce call centre agent burnout, especially where the contact centre solution uses a consumption-based cost model.

5. Not simplifying the user interface for customers

The final way in which healthcare call centres are losing customers is by not simplifying the user interface for customers. In many cases, callers are forced to navigate through a complex IVR system that is lengthy and impersonal to use. This often leads to customers getting frustrated and hanging up before they even get to speak to an agent. Little surprise then that nearly 60% of customers believe a long wait time is the most frustrating part of their customer experience.

To improve the customer experience, healthcare call centres need to simplify the user interface and make it easy for customers to get the help they need. One way to do this is by offering a chatbot on your website that can answer common questions and direct customers to the appropriate department. To really boost your customer experience, you can link your chatbot to a knowledge base of FAQs and How To’s.

Another way to simplify the user interface is by offering self-service options. For example, many healthcare call centres now allow customers to book appointments or request policy renewals online. This not only saves the customer time, but also reduces the number of calls that agents need to handle.

By improving the customer experience, healthcare call centres can improve customer satisfaction, reduce churn, and improve retention. In an industry where customer satisfaction is so important, this is vital to the success of any healthcare call centre.

If you’d like to learn more about how AI, agent empowerment, and cloud centre call solutions can help your call centre agents improve your healthcare CX execution, please contact us. We’d be more than happy to help you find out how your call centre operations can be improved for a CX that gains customers, rather than lose them.