Payers: 2 ways to enhance call centers, customer satisfaction

As the healthcare industry gears up for the next open enrollment period in November, payers need to look for ways to improve their call centers to provide a better experience for customers. Insurers can use their call centers to deliver clarity early on, especially since enrollment experiences have the greatest effect on customers' likelihood to recommend an insurer, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Listed below are two ways payers can better serve their members, according to a new report from consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

1. Focus on areas that need most improvement

Payers can examine certain aspects of their call centers--average speed to answer or average call handle time, for example--to determine which areas require the most attention. One call center's average speed to answer was 29.1 seconds, while another call center 's was less than 60 seconds, notes the report. Further, some call centers had delays that lasted longer than 40 minutes, leaving customers aggravated.

To improve these operations, payers must develop measures to better handle uncertain demand for customer service. Payers can also look to external resources to increase surge capacity. To reduce average handle time, update scripts with new questions that incorporate the answers, according to the report.

2. Recognize the shift to a more consumer-centric industry

It's important for payers to recognize exactly what their members want. Identify the services provided to consumers and steer them in the right direction. Payers can build awareness of service options--retail stores, call centers, social media--and introduce them to ones that may best serve their needs.

What's more, to deliver on consumer expectations of personalized communications, insurers should make call center personnel always available to answer complex questions and offer a "live voice," FierceHealthPayer previously reported. However, caller traffic with inquiries about claims status or deductible or copays should be handled by more cost effective online tools.

For more:
- here's the report (.pdf)