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Call Reduction: How to Leverage Technology

Call Reduction
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3 MIN. READ

Technology continues to push in the forefront as executives seek ways to achieve call reduction. Operational efficiencies and achieving reduced costs while maintaining customer satisfaction have become the top strategic goals for executives. In fact, 80 percent of executives surveyed stated that digital solutions are the most important strategic initiative over the next five years.

Health care, insurance companies, and other health care organizations are seeking operational efficiencies as well. Of customer care executives surveyed, 57 percent reported that call reduction was the top priority for the next five years. Trying to leverage technology, they are attempting call reduction by pushing individuals to the web for self-service information.

However, customers today expect immediate, personalized service. To increase efficiencies and decrease costs, customer care strategies need to include a combination of human and digital interactions.

Using technology for call reduction

Not all technology is created equal, and not all technology will help with call reduction. In fact, some call centers experience volume increases after rolling out a digital initiative. While roll-out and education play a part in the issue, the types of technology deployed can also influence how difficult customers find the experience.

The best technologies are designed for human interaction. Four technologies can be used in strategies for call reduction:

  • Dynamic speech-enabled IVR, especially powered by natural language processing, can provide a much more personalized experience.
  • Customer-centric web self-service with highly visible and relevant FAQs can minimize calls to your center, especially when the self-service is well marketed via messages when customers reach out to your call center.
  • Smart mobile self-service plays an increasingly important role as the smartphone becomes a prevalent part of everyone’s life. In fact, having a mobile app has become one of the most important aspects of customer satisfaction with 72 percent of consumers viewing a customer-friendly app as an important aspect of a company.
  • Building social customer communities where customers can answer other customers has become an increasingly important aspect of customer service. Not only can customers build brand loyalty via interaction with peers, but pressure on customer service agents is also relieved.

Why technology won’t solve everything

Unfortunately, digital initiatives that are pushed out without awareness of up and downstream activity will have the opposite effect. Instead of call reduction, call centers can experience an increase in call activity due to inefficiencies and a lack of communication. Digital initiatives will only produce call reduction if silos of operation communicate with each other to create efficiencies and streamline operations.

One of the pitfalls health care organizations can fall into is pushing hard on web self-service without accounting for their customer needs. For example, if most calls come while a customer is on their cell phone during a medical need, then they will find having to navigate a website will irritate them. Not only will they contact the call center, but they will also call more agitated and prepared to escalate.

Similarly, customers with more complex issues who encounter an IVR will become increasingly frustrated. The result is customers will hang up unsatisfied, which is counterproductive and can potentially lead to loss of customers.

At the end of the day, most providers want their call centers to enhance patient satisfaction. In order to do so, call centers need to leverage technology while reinforcing basic call center principles, which include low average wait time, a low average time to answer, and resolution on the first call.

Combining technology with key call-centric metrics can result in call reduction and increased efficiencies. However, executives need to make sure they are not expecting one digital solution to solve all problems, as different customers require varying levels of assistance.

Call centers will continue to be needed to handle more complex issues, but correctly leveraged technology can produce call reduction while increasing efficiencies.

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