Interactive voice response is an essential tool for any healthcare organization, regardless of whether you are an insurance provider, a pharmacy, a hospital, or a private practice. Providing patients the ability to schedule appointments, access information, manage billing, and perform other tasks easily from their phone is a key component to delivering a positive healthcare experience. Regardless of whether you provide an IVR or full-blown contact center – when your chosen tool fails to meet expectations – it can dramatically decrease overall patient satisfaction and create enormous issues in ensuring quality and continuity of care.
Following are three tips to help healthcare professionals streamline the IVR/contact center experience for both patients and providers so you can increase patient satisfaction and make your job just a little bit easier.
Tip #1: Perform an Overall Assessment of Your IVR System
Why do patients schedule annual wellness checks? To keep track of their overall health and try to detect unseen issues before they become a big problem. The same philosophy can be applied to your IVR system. You may think your system is operating just fine. But a simple assessment, such as transcribing utterances and reviewing live calls, can tell you a completely different story. And a review of your reporting and analytics can tell you even more. Here are some examples that may indicate your system needs a little help:
- Breaking containment
- Being routed to the wrong department
- Hanging up
- Shouting at the prompts or mashing buttons
- Zeroing out to an operator
- Berating representatives for frustrating interactions with the IVR
Like a patient check-up, an IVR assessment can help you find issues and begin a plan to resolve them, ensuring a better experience for your patients!
Tip #2: Make Your IVR System as Caring as Your Team
Navigating various aspects of the healthcare industry is frustrating enough for patients. When they engage with your contact center, the tone, cadence and responses of your system really do make a difference. If you’re a smaller practice, your voice talent may simply be one of your staff members. If you’re a larger organization, like an insurance company or a hospital, we highly recommend you leverage a voice actor who is friendly, professional and representational of your brand. Here are a few other tips for healthcare organizations to consider:
- Avoid robotic-sounding voice response. Your patients may be calling with critical, life-altering needs. You want your IVR to make them feel like they are in good — human — hands. Professional voice talent will be able to walk the line between clear enunciation and a caring tone.
- Avoid stern or abrupt prompts, particularly when requesting that information be repeated or informing patients of errors in their responses. Callers are very sensitive to feeling “scolded” or reprimanded for making a mistake by what they perceive as an unfeeling machine.
- Develop a persona for your voice talent that aligns with your brand and your caller’s goals. If you’re a pharmacy trying to help patients fill prescriptions, for example, you would likely seek a calm, professional and efficient persona. For a hospital directory, a personal of a helpful, caring individual might be a better option. The point is to provide guidance for your talent.
Tip #3: Make It Easy for Your Patients!
Above, we discuss a few challenges that indicate your system may need a little help. The common thread for all of them (hang-ups, frustration, etc.) is that the system itself is difficult for patients to navigate. The first thing to consider when making your system easier on your patients is your menu. If patients have to navigate through a mass of prompts to simply find the “bill pay” option, your system is doing them no good, and in fact may be doing your reputation a great deal of harm. Alternatively, if your payment system is 90% cash, insurance or check (and you want to keep it that way), making bill pay a prominent part of the main menu is a waste of time and valuable navigation space that can be taken by another task.
Another area to examine is in your grammar and utterances. One of the key challenges our IVR clients encounter is that their system is not tuned enough to account for regional dialects, differing pronunciations, word substitutions and other verbal issues. This can lead to frustration for the caller as they repeat themselves over and over to trigger the proper engagement — and never get there. Additionally, it takes up valuable time on your end, as your customer service representatives end up performing tasks that could have been handled by your IVR — if it were tuned properly.
These are just a few ways you can improve overall patient satisfaction by maximizing the efficiency and usability of your IVR system. Making it easier for your patients to actually use your IVR system works out better for them by saving them time and frustration and is also better for you — for the exact same reasons.
For more ideas, download our free whitepaper titled Five Key Ways to Improve Your IVR Performance.