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When you have systems in place to increase your team’s efficiency, you also increase the likelihood of improving productivity. Using a live call program is a proven way to give you a clear window into patients’ needs and experiences with your resupply business. But it’s not just as simple as having people available to make or answer calls. A truly effective program should include three key elements. We’ll outline them here.

Training

The agents working with your patients are only as good as the training they receive. Most new hires won’t have any background on sleep apnea or disposable supplies, so your training program needs to include those basics, as well as HIPAA training, customer service skills, and a solid understanding of sleep apnea and why it’s so important for patients to stay on PAP therapy and replace disposable supplies.

In Brightree’s LiveCall training, we spend a lot of time working on patient education to make sure patients understand their options. Every HME company will have their own packet of specific requirements, and our agents are trained to navigate that information and on how to direct patients who have questions about their insurance coverage or billing.

Once all the basics are covered, it’s helpful for trainees to do mock calls and shadow live calls to reinforce what they’ve learned. After a week, they should be evaluated to see if there are areas that need extra training. In the second week, they can continue with mock calls and transition into live calls with a trainer as they gradually take calls unassisted. When they meet required goals, they can take customer calls full time.

Even after this transition, it’s a good idea to monitor new hires to make sure they’re successful and that needed corrections are made as soon as possible to avoid developing bad habits. Periodic assessments can reveal areas where more coaching and training are needed.

Refresher training

Studies have shown that after 31 days, employees remember only 21% of the information they learned during training. This is why refresher training is a good investment in your agents to help ensure high quality service to your patients. Brightree does annual refresher training and one-on-one sessions as needed to help increase knowledge retention and reduce errors. This is also a great way to stay up to date on product and regulatory changes.

Onboarding and ongoing training translate into better productivity and alignment of your staff, as well as exceptional care for your patients.

Quality assurance

A robust quality assurance program lets you identify changes in process or workflow that may be needed, and also helps maintain regulatory compliance.

The first step to developing a good quality assurance program is recording and monitoring calls. Monitoring recorded calls is more efficient than real-time monitoring, and can be a valuable coaching tool for agents. Recorded calls also offer visibility and protection for all parties so that if there are questions or more information is needed, you have the ability to pull a recording to get the missing information.

Another important tool is a quality definition guideline. This document should identify objectives on your scorecard and explain how to meet each standard. For example, on any call, our standard is for an agent to provide his or her name and the account name. We also monitor whether an agent verifies they are speaking with the patient, to comply with HIPAA, and tells the patient they are being recorded, as required by federal law. This makes clear what is required and promotes consistency across all accounts. And then, we use calibrations. I select two agent calls per week and share them with managers and team leads. We score the calls, and then have a meeting to listen to the calls and discuss our scores. This ensures we’re consistent in how we evaluate agent performance, and identifies gaps in coaching and training.

We’ve implemented a new tool at Brightree: speech analytics software, which allows us to transcribe each call, and evaluates key words and phrases that measure the sentiment of the agent and patient. This is a great way to discover how our patients feel not only about our services, but also about their HME provider. And if the tone or inflection of the conversation becomes negative, the software sends an alert to the manager so they’re aware the call may be escalated. This tool also helps with patient education, allowing us to see if our agents are giving patients the information they need and helping them reorder all eligible items.

Having feedback for our agents helps them become more knowledgeable and confident, which improves engagement and job satisfaction.

Workforce management

For your business to be successful, it’s vital to make sure your staffing schedule meets patient needs. Workforce management consists of three main areas: forecasting, scheduling and real-time adjustments. With forecasting, the goal is always to have enough people in place to meet agreed-upon service levels. Historical call patterns show how many inbound calls arrive per day, which days of the week, at what time of the day, and even at half-hour intervals. You can use these patterns to determine how to schedule staff to meet client needs.

Based on this call history, you can develop a schedule. Starting with a base schedule for each day,  it can be helpful to use a visual schedule to see how many people are available in half-hour intervals and whether that staffing level will meet requirements for a specific timeframe. A visual scheduler will also show the components of a person’s shift that reduce headcount—for example, meetings, breaks and meals.

After the schedule is determined, you can monitor real-time changes to adapt to unplanned absences or call volume that’s higher than historical patterns. Again, a visual scheduling tool lets you see at a glance where there are gaps, which helps you manage the schedule while providing adequate time for client meetings, ad hoc team meetings and other business needs.

Reap the benefits

An effective live call program can deliver insights into your patients that otherwise might not be available. But setting up a program is a big commitment. Find out how Brightree can help you reap the benefits of a robust live call program that can keep your business healthy.

Justin Lewis Three key elements of a successful live call program

Justin Lewis
Senior Director, ReSupply LiveCall Service, Brightree

Justin Lewis is the senior director of Brightree’s ReSupply LiveCall Service and brings nearly two decades of experience in the contact center industry to this role. Previously, he served as the senior manager of the contact center and outsourcing operations at a senior living facility and prior to that as a customer service and sales manager at Apria Healthcare. He is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt.

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