Healthcare call centers talk about training but few follow through by offering professional instruction that truly makes a difference. Consider these eight call center training areas:
1) HIPAA Compliance: HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, applies directly to healthcare call centers. Is your call center truly doing all that HIPAA regulations require to protect callers’ and patients’ personal health information and maintain compliance? Don’t leave this to chance; the risks to your reputation and finances are too great. The solution starts with training for new hires and extends to ongoing refresher classes for all employees.
2) Agent Onboarding: A new hire’s first impression of your call center sets the basis for the rest of his or her work experience. An essential task of agent training is to help each new hire confirm that he or she made the right decision in joining your organization. Yet welcoming new agents properly is too often hit-or-miss. Don’t leave agent onboarding to chance. Doing this right requires training for your training department.
3) Staff Development: Agent training doesn’t end when their initial instruction wraps up. They need ongoing training to propel them to success. In addition to intermediate and advanced education on your call center platform, software, and apps, you need to focus on developing soft skills, which includes customer service, conflict resolution, and defusing emotional situations. Developmental training should never end.
4) SupervisorInstruction: Supervisors need training on how to manage people, adjust schedules, understand agent stats, conduct coaching sessions, and resolve conflict. Yet supervisor training is nonexistent in most call centers and amounts to little more than saying, “Go sit by that person.” Even worse is conveying the attitude of “go figure it out.” Poorly equipped supervisors result in frustrated staff. Skilled supervisors boost quality, morale, and retention.
5) Customer Service Skills: Advanced customer service training is also nonexistent at most call centers. Most customer service agents want to do a good job, but few call centers provide the instruction they need. Don’t promote an agent into customer service without first providing the training required for success.
6) Quality AssuranceCoaching: All call centers say quality is their top objective, but do they actually back up their words with action? Quality assurance (QA) management involves recording, listening to, and evaluating calls with a focus on providing actionable content to guide agents toward call center excellence. A key issue in QA is consistency. Will two quality assurance specialists rate a call the same way? Without thoughtful training, results can vary greatly. Yes, quality assurance staff needs training, too—not only initial instruction on the process, but also ongoing reviews to insure consistent application.
7) Leadership Training: Most call center positions are filled by former agents, yet without relevant training, a great agent seldom becomes a great leader. Map career paths for promising agents. What advancement positions interest them? What training will they need? Failing to provide appropriate education will cause your best people to leave, joining companies—possibly competitors—that will provide a career path and the support to achieve it.
8) Hiring and HR: Does your staff know the top questions they should ask applicants during an interview? Do they know what they can legally ask? More importantly, do they know which questions to avoid? Asking an illegal question during an employment interview is an invitation for a discrimination lawsuit. Human resource staff is also involved in leading disciplinary meetings, developing employee action plans, writing job descriptions, and conducting performance appraisals. Each area requires training in order to succeed.
Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier contact center consultancy that provides custom training solutions for all levels of staff at healthcare call centers. Contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-901-7706 to learn more about arranging specific training for your organization.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.