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Home health organizations that contract with call centers and or answering services for support calls are, unfortunately, often viewed as cost centers. Although these centers usually don’t bring in revenue directly, they do contribute to the home health company’s goals in many valuable ways, most notably in reinforcing the company’s brand, increasing customer loyalty and 24 hour availability for patients, family members and their staff.

To raise the visibility of your call center as a valuable contributor to your company’s growth and bottom line profits, you should be following these six best practices.

1. Understand What Your Want To Achieve

What are the goals of your company? How can your call center support them?

  • Meet with your senior executives. How do they want the company to be perceived in the market place? Are they trying to grow market share, reduce attrition, cut internal costs?

  • Confer with the finance department. What is the lifetime value of a customer?

  • Meet with the marketing department. What campaigns are coming up? How can the call center help support the department’s goals? It doesn’t reflect well on your company if a customer calls in about a promotion or other information they received if the agent knows nothing about it.

2. Hiring the Right People

One of the most difficult aspects of call center management is finding and keeping the right people for the job. Regardless of how difficult it is to attract and retain quality agents, it’s crucial that you take great care in hiring the call center that places emphasis on its people. Even though you may be in a rush to have your calls managed, you will save considerable pain down the road. Not only is it time consuming to replace your call center, who you hire will have a direct impact on your business.

3. Training for Success

Equipping your staff with the knowledge and behaviors to meet your company’s business goals is an investment that pays off many times over. Educating the staff in your home health company of the functions of your call center will aid in the process and reduce your costs. Most call centers have high turnover and don’t want to invest a lot in training, so the more effective each call becomes, it allows the focus to be on patients and family members.

4. Coach for Continuous Improvement

Giving feedback to your call center isn’t a luxury. It isn’t a maybe. It isn’t a one-of-these-days-I’ll-get-around-to-doing-it aspect of your job. Making sure your call center get consistent feedback and recognition for a job well-done is one of the two or three most critical things to ensure success.

There are other reasons why giving feedback is so important. It shows you’re on top of things, that you’re keeping yourself informed, and that you’re dedicated to a course of continual improvement. Call centers who receive ongoing feedback from their clients are more engaged in process improvements and the more engaged the call center create more satisfied customers. What’s more, is shows the call center that you care about the work needing to be performed, the performance, the customer, service levels, and about ensuring a world-class call center and they in turn will need to focus their attention on you and your customers.

5. Manage the Mood

In call centers where morale is high, agents approach their work with energy, enthusiasm, and willingness. They want to come to work, or at least are enthusiastic about their work once they get there. Turnover is low. On the other hand, when morale is low in a call center, employees become bored, discouraged, and lethargic, and turnover is high.

How does your call center create a motivating environment?

  • Be sure it’s positive. Smile. Be encouraging. Praise. Don’t tolerate uncivil behavior.

  • Provide the best furniture and equipment you can. Paint the walls a bright color or put art on them. Keep common rooms clean and tidy. Be sure noise, lighting, and air quality are conducive to employee comfort.

  • Make it fun to succeed. Recognize great performance—that which goes beyond what’s expected. Recognize agents for behavior or actions or ideas they initiate. Create relevant contests, ones that focus specifically on job performance. Avoid overzealous competition. Involve management in recognition programs.

  • Help employees manage stress. Be clear on what good performance looks like. Provide as much control over working conditions as possible. Be sure employees have the tools, resources, and information to do their jobs. Provide breaks from repetitive or monotonous tasks. Allow agents to step away for a few moments to calm down after dealing with a challenging call.

6. Watch Your Numbers

Best Practice #6 is to focus on call center metrics. The goal of your call center is to help your organization meet its business goals. Metrics measure how well you’ve done that. Look at metrics related to quality (call quality, data-entry quality, fix quality, customer satisfaction and loyalty, etc.) as well as metrics related to quantity (average speed of answer, number of escalations or transfers, the time it takes to resolve the customer’s issue, etc.). The goal is to create the highest customer loyalty at the greatest efficiency.

Follow these six best practices and hire the call center that will most satisfy and understand your needs. The home health industry call flows, directives and protocols are complex in their design. Managing the expectations for your customers, family members, other agencies, partners and staff can be very overwhelming if not alligned with the right call center. Your call center needs to be well-run, cost-effective, and seen as a valuable contributor to helping your company achieve its goals.

Call CuraCall, Home Health's Communication Company and let us show you the difference.

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