Bring empathy to healthcare outsourcing services
1. Remember, you’re in the service business
Empathy is hard to fake. If you don’t get a kick out of helping others, you’re in the wrong profession.
Unfortunately, many BPOs hire people who are simply not cut out to serve others. You need teams with the right aptitude and attitude to help patients in a meaningful way.
And this isn’t just for client-facing teams. The back office has a role in supporting PX too. Service is a calling—and it needs people who want to be there.
At Ubiquity, our philosophy is hire right the first time. When we source and train candidates to be professional customer service agents, we look for enthusiastic people with that talent and potential to serve and grow their careers with us. It’s the foundation for empathy.
2. Your understanding can never go too deep
People are complex creatures. The more you can understand from the way they think and behave, the closer you get to solving problems and helping them out.
Helping patients access medication is no easy feat. Besides eligibility criteria and state-by-state rules, patient attitudes and financial circumstances can pose a challenge.
For example, a substantial share of Medicaid members can’t read. Many struggle to afford medication. Mobility problems and language barriers can make it hard for patients to access the care they need.
For some clients, we implement an SDOH (social determinants of health) strategy, which takes data points about the customer’s background, lifestyle and social circumstances that help us identify obstacles to patient health and accessing preventative care—empathy is key to turning this data into the right course of action.
It’s only by understanding our customers and their challenges at an intimate level that we can really effect change. That’s what empathy is all about—understanding.
3. When we are independent, customers are independent too
Empathy can’t always follow a script. Service agents must have the power to take some matters into their own hands to deliver valuable PX.
When we train agents, they adopt a strong attitude of proactivity and ownership—they get invested in day-to-day contact center management, hold weekly huddles with their teams and take a hands-on approach to improving processes for our clients based on what they’re hearing from patients.
What’s more, the right technologies can help agents rise toward autonomy and feel confident that they’re making the right decisions. For example, inTouch® is our performance management platform that helps team leaders coach and train agents to be at their best, whereas Aigent uses artificial intelligence (AI) to guide conversations in real time and empowers agents to deliver the most appropriate—and empathetic—response.
When BPO agents are empowered to optimize the member experience, both sides win.
4. Continuity builds deeper customer connections
With many of our clients, we make sure agents can build rapport with regularly contacted members and patients. This means the same care coordinators speak to the same members every time.
For personal and potentially emotionally charged discussions, a familiar and empathetic voice at the end of the line drastically increases the chances of a successful resolution for members/patients.
This simple commitment to consistency helps empathy thrive and leads to more positive outcomes for patients—they not only get genuinely better service, but they actually feel like they get it, too.
5. Don’t rest on your laurels—stay open to feedback
Without regular feedback, a brand will struggle to really know what’s going on between their customers and their contact centers. Without it, agents won’t know what impact their service manner has on customers.
But more than helping the brand serve better, offering the chance for feedback is itself an empathetic interaction—inviting the customer to have their voice heard demonstrates care and commitment to improve, and that their involvement matters.
Net Promoter Scores and customer satisfaction scores are just two metrics we use to solicit feedback. They’re direct, flexible and tested, and they help paint the picture for both the long term and short term of CX performance.
6. Success looks different for every patient
Every healthcare member and patient we serve will have their own unique KPIs relative to their specific circumstances. That means relying on traditional metrics to guide and evaluate performance can only go so far.
To get a clearer picture of how we’re actually helping, we also use more abstract terms to measure success—especially when there are so many journeys and outcomes to consider. After all, it’s not uncommon for agents to anticipate 200-300 call scenarios per customer.
We think of success in terms of broader outcomes: Were we able to overcome the customer’s obstacle? Were we able to offer the appropriate care or ensure they take advantage of their supplemental benefits? Enacting a change in customer behaviour is the goal.
If we can help people make positive changes in their life, whether it’s getting a member to apply for a low-income subsidy, scheduling a doctor’s appointment and helping them keep it by providing transportation, then mission accomplished. But we can’t get there without empathetic service.
7. Empathy is a journey, not a destination
You need a certain resilience to succeed in customer service, especially in healthcare. If you derive validation from customers recognizing your valiant efforts or believe chasing metrics will earn you recognition, that’s a recipe for disappointment.
It’s a good idea to think of empathy like an unending journey. There is no big shiny treasure at the end. The reward is being able to help people along the way—and there is always room to learn, grow and improve.
Only a BPO with maturity and endurance can really understand this about customer experience. You’ll never be finished—and that’s just fine with us.