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4 pain points that flare up in healthcare call centers

Feb 8, 2024 | Admin, Health and Life Sciences, Healthcare, Latest News, Service Cloud

“Please hold. Your call is important to us.”

Well, that’s an understatement. 

Contact centers across all major industries are the organization’s lifeline that connects them with customers. According to experts, the average call center handles almost 5,000 calls monthly, and the sector employs around 3 million people in the US. 

Despite many major healthcare organizations implementing digitization, studies show that most consumers prefer talking on the phone to a live contact center agent for a non-urgent resolution. But the appeal of adding omnichannel services is gaining ground. 

Clearly, contact centers remain an essential part of an organization. But as the customer evolves with researched brand knowledge and higher expectations, the contact center model is facing the need for a makeover. 

In this series, we’ll address customers’ common complaints about their contact center experience within each major industry; we will highlight proven solutions to improve CX and meet customer expectations; and share Salesforce-based tools and support to help innovate processes with AI-data-driven functionality. 

The benefits of this customer-centric transformation are meaningful, scalable possibilities that move contact centers forward in support of companies in healthcare, tech/telco, retail, finance, and manufacturing industries. 

First, let’s break down the leading pain points within each industry’s contact center operation. Then, we’ll show how digital-based Salesforce solutions elevate call center support to deliver unprecedented, personalized customer support. 

 

Current Challenges Healthcare Contact Centers Face

Contact centers are pivotal in patient engagement, support, and service delivery. However, the landscape has challenges, and healthcare contact centers grapple with several pain points impacting their efficiency and effectiveness. 

From the intricate balance between reducing overhead costs and maintaining revenue streams to safeguarding sensitive patient data in compliance with stringent regulations, these challenges are multifaceted and demand strategic solutions. 

Additionally, agent burnout, inconsistent customer support, and the perennial need to adapt to evolving technologies underscore the complexity of managing healthcare contact centers. 

In this exploration, we delve into the top pain points faced by healthcare contact centers, analyzing the intricacies of each challenge and considering potential avenues for resolution in the pursuit of optimal patient care and operational excellence.

 

Pain Point #1: Siloed Data Access Delays Resolution

One of the most common customer frustrations with contact centers is being passed to various channels and repeating information before their issue is resolved.  

According to Salesforce, around 83 percent of customers expect their issues to be resolved on the first try. 

“Customers don’t want lengthy qualifying questions without human correspondence — they want to be connected and recognized as more than just numbers,” explained Brenda Bown, CMO of Service Cloud at Salesforce. “The future of customer service starts with learning what customers expect today: a consistent and empathetic connected experience.”

Studies show that almost half (49 percent) of people feel relieved in call center encounters where callers aren’t transferred. Respondents also said they trust the organization more when they aren’t passed around to different agents or automated systems. 

Providing consistent and personalized support is difficult when healthcare call center agents lack a unified and comprehensive view of a patient’s medical history or treatment plans. It diminishes the quality of customer support and frustrates patients seeking coherent and reliable guidance. 

Additionally, contact center representatives may need access to a complete profile to address inquiries effectively. The result? Long wait times. Delayed resolutions and a lousy customer experience. 

 

Pain Point #2: Data Security and HIPAA Compliance

Did you know that in 2023, around two healthcare data breaches involving 500 or more records were reported daily? Studies also showed an average of 364,571 healthcare records were breached every day.  

Healthcare call centers regularly handle patient data, including medical histories, treatment plans, and personal identifiers. The challenge lies in safeguarding confidential information against potential breaches, unauthorized access, or inadvertent disclosures. 

HIPAA regulations impose strict standards on storing, transmitting, and handling protected health information (PHI). Implementing and enforcing robust security measures across various communication channels, such as phone lines and digital platforms, is complex but essential. 

The dynamic nature of technology and the evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats amplify the difficulty in maintaining a secure environment. 

 

Pain Point #3: Agent Burnout and Employee Attrition

Experts estimate that around 74 percent of call center agents risk burning out. Increased call volumes, mundane tasks, inadequate training, and constant pressure to meet monthly performance targets are to blame for increased employee attrition. 

“For many customers, CSRs are the face of the company,” said Steve Smith, US COO at Esker and a Forbes contributor. “Agents suffering from burnout provide subpar customer service, which can lead to complaints and poor online reviews that negatively affect the bottom line.”

Healthcare agent burnout is a pervasive challenge in healthcare contact centers. It’s often due to the work’s demanding and emotionally taxing nature. Despite the move toward digitalization in some healthcare organizations, many call center agents in healthcare are often tasked with addressing a wide range of patient concerns, from billing inquiries to critical health-related issues. 

One theory on higher agent turnover is the constant exposure to distressed and sometimes urgent situations, coupled with the need for empathy and efficiency, which often takes a toll on an agent’s mental and emotional well-being. 

Burnout happens in call centers for the same reasons it happens in other workplaces: stress, unclear expectations, lack of a work-life balance,” said Jesse Martin. “It should go without saying that call center work is hard. Customers reaching out for help are often unhappy.”

Moreover, healthcare contact centers that still need to implement omnichannel services that cater to customer outreach preferences typically experience high call volumes, leading to prolonged working hours and increased stress levels. 

The complexity of medical information and the pressure to adhere to strict HIPAA standards further contribute to the stressors agents face. It’s why the cumulative effect of these challenges often results in burnout, characterized by emotional exhaustion, decreased job satisfaction, and diminished overall performance. 

 

Pain Point #4: Internal Pressure to Reduce Overhead Costs and Generate Revenue

Healthcare organizations need their contact centers to generate revenue–stat! Unfortunately, healthcare providers’ networks and insurance processes aren’t making the journey to a healthy financial outlook any easier. 

Studies show that around 67 percent of healthcare call center leaders find it challenging to prove call center ROI internally, and 74 percent feel pressured by their system’s executives to demonstrate that their call center can generate a profit rather than incur further costs.

Internal pressure to reduce overhead costs and generate revenue emerges as a prominent pain point for healthcare call centers due to the complex financial landscape within the healthcare industry. 

Healthcare organizations face ongoing challenges in optimizing operational efficiency while simultaneously meeting the rising demands for quality patient care and customer service. As integral components of healthcare communication, call centers must balance the need for effective service with cost-cutting measures. 

This pressure is compounded by the necessity to invest in advanced technologies, maintain compliance with regulatory standards, and provide ongoing staff training. The relentless drive to enhance revenue streams often clashes with the imperative to control expenses, creating a delicate balancing act for healthcare call centers. 

This internal pressure requires strategic decision-making, innovative solutions, and a careful alignment of financial goals with the imperative to deliver high-quality, patient-centric services, making it a top pain point in the dynamic landscape of healthcare call center management.

The critical role that healthcare contact centers play in patient engagement and support is undeniable, but the landscape is riddled with intricate challenges that demand thoughtful solutions. A balance between financial considerations, data security, and regulatory compliance highlights the multifaceted nature of these hurdles. 

The persistent issues of agent burnout, inconsistent customer support, and the ever-evolving technological landscape further emphasize the dynamic and complex nature of managing healthcare contact centers. 

As we explore these pain points, it becomes evident that strategic and holistic approaches are necessary to address the diverse challenges faced by these essential healthcare system components. By navigating these complexities with innovation and adaptability, healthcare contact centers can pave the way for enhanced patient care, improved operational efficiency, and a more resilient and responsive healthcare communication ecosystem.

 

Next time, we’ll explore common pain points today’s banking and financial services contact centers face to invest in better customer experiences. 

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