Leveraging journey mapping differently and focusing on training to instill empathy allows your agents to collect and leverage sentiment in real time and create lasting relationships with your customers.
Since 60% of organizations report having journey maps, you likely have seen or built journey maps already. The challenge with the vast majority of journey maps we encounter is that they are request based, not member focused. The assumed commonality in these journey maps immediately moves us away from the critical factors of empathy: Critical Listening, Conversation, and Investigation. We need to create journey maps that get down to the agent-customer connection level.
Efficient transactional processes will not help your customers view you as a trusted advisor.
In the contact center, it all begins with the probing questions your agent asks at the start of the call. Most probing techniques used today are all about us. For example, what’s your member id? Your date of birth? What question do you have? This series of questions is well intentioned to allow the agent to move to an answer quickly. However, this takes sentiment as a tool we can leverage away.
In our new approach, we open a call by asking, “How can I help you”? This shift allows your customer to share their issue quickly and have control over the content of the call. They will start talking about their problems immediately. They may say something like, “I thought this was all handled, my son is still sick, and now I have a huge bill.”
From here, when appropriately trained, an agent can extract a lot of information.
The question: Why did my claim get denied?
Insight to who the call is about: dependent male member
Level of stress and mood
Understanding the feeling of financial pressure
Level of knowledge about the plan and process
The real question they didn’t ask: Do I have to pay this bill?
With a new approach to probing we can respond with “gee I think I have your sons record right here, can you confirm the member ID?” We’re getting the information we need but in a very different way and once we’ve allowed them a moment to vent.
In the traditional approach, we would have been talking about why the claim was denied but have left the real question on the table.
Now your agents have a unique opportunity to guide the sentiment. We believe that empowering agents with the tools they need to hear the sentiment right away and move to a place where it can change leads to drastically higher levels of success in the contact center.
This change occurs within the call, not after it ends. Venting is something we’ve been scared of for years. When a customer starts venting, you feel you’ve lost control of the call. In our old approach to measurement, this meant a long call, getting a supervisor involved, threating to take business elsewhere, etc. We’ve been afraid that venting changes the amount of time it takes to complete a call. But if we can start to think about venting as a way for customers to express themselves and deliver clarity of sentiment to us, we have an opportunity to engage and measure differently.
Probing through journey mapping allows a lot of learning. The benefits of this learning are that we no longer have to guess if we’ve made an impact – we immediately know! However, this approach takes a different level of skill and therefore shifted approach to training.
A Different Agent
To become an advisor, you need a different type of agent in your contact center. In healthcare specifically, this agent is made up of the following:
You never want to practice on your customer. You have to look at your agents as superheroes. But you can’t just walk down the street and buy superheroes. You have to build them. Building superhero agents are where your in-house learning programs become mission critical. Having technical expertise and empathy at the same time is very complicated.
The Zelus PACE™ program
The PACE™ program stands for:
This program changes the agent’s progression. Here is what the curriculum looks like and how it compares to standard curricula.
We deliver the PACE™ program in the same or less time than typical programs. If you want to see what the full 10-day journey looks like or some specific improvement metrics from this program, let us know.
Part of what allows the PACE™ program to accomplish incredible results is that we teach soft skills and industry-specific skills in unison. In complex industries, you don’t have the luxury of training these things in isolation.
Check out the recorded session that Jenny led here which covers sentiment recognition, a case study, and even more insights into journey mapping and our PACE™ program and how it can help organizations like yours.
How do you build meaningful emotional bonds and a human connection with your customers? How do you understand the status of your relationship?
To accomplish this and become a real advisor to your customers you have to make customer intent and sentiment priorities of your organization.
The outcome of your entire organization is visible in the contact center. And contact centers expose everything that’s going well and not so well to your customers across every department of the organization.
When your agents are empowered to build human connections, you can deliver the brand experience you want to put into the marketplace and create a powerful feedback loop across all teams.
Why does customer sentiment lead to human connection?
The ultimate goal of all the metrics you invest time and energy into tracking is to understand whether or not you’re meeting the needs of your customers. There has been a long evolution of contact center metrics. From the simple measurement of handle time, accuracy, resolution to customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter score (NPS), for instance. None of these metrics can be ignored or avoided. However, they are all giving you generalized, rear view mirror feedback on how your customers feel about you.
Sentiment is entirely different, mainly if you can capture it in real-time. And customer sentiment is the only metric that is about them!
To create a real human connection you have to go beyond measurement and metrics. And sentiment gives agents a different kind of power if they hear it as it unfolds.
To get there, you need a different approach to probing – this puts empathy on the table. It starts with listening. Are you determining the spoken and unspoken questions and concerns they’re expressing? What is happening in the course of the conversation? It’s not transactional. It’s a two-way dialogue. You’ll never become an advisor to your customer if you’re transacting.
Investigation is the final component. Now the agent has listened, conversed, and connected. Next, they must know enough about the subject matter to answer the spoken and unspoken questions of your customer. When an agent can deliver this experience, with empathy, your customer will have established a human connection. They will believe that you are capable of advising them and completing the story.
Health insurance plans are more focused than ever on evaluating and maintaining their brand. Most plans are working to be more than simply a low-cost provider of healthcare or the plan with the biggest network. For years now, we’ve seen that singularly focused strategies like that don’t work. One of the biggest opportunities plans have is to emerge as the health plan of choice for members by choosing to deliver a personal connection in every member interaction.
This personal connection starts in your contact center. What’s interesting though, is that the push for Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) to take over customer service entirely isn’t what members really want. Members want our Contact Centers to be MORE human! And for those humans to be enabled by technology. We’re seeing this desire for a human touch in every industry but especially in healthcare. It’s one of the main reasons we created a proprietary training program to assist health plan contact centers. When Zelus trains contact center agents we always incorporate empathy, we use a simple, yet comprehensive, approach:
I’m looking forward to speaking more about this at the upcoming 9th Annual Medicare Market Innovations Forum in San Diego, CA. on a distinguished panel. The panel will be focused building a year-round branding strategy that extends beyond Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (“AEP”). Zelus will also be in the Exhibit Hall at the Conference, so stop by and see us. We’d love to talk about your challenges and what’s working in your organization to deliver that consistent brand experience! If you need a push in the right direction talk to us about our PACE™ program. We built a comprehensive healthcare contact center program to marry proficiency, accuracy, confidence, and empathy seamlessly. There is nothing like it in the marketplace.
We’re working on an upcoming webinar with Contact Center Week about connecting with customers on a human level, learn more and register here.
Learn more about our suite of services and the additional benefits of partnering with Zelus for your training needs here or contact us to discuss the needs of your operation.
Today, the customer experience is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. In many industries, it is an elusive goal. Industries where this is most challenging have a lot in common. Most importantly, the work of their contact center is often complex. The transactions are no longer, and maybe never have been simple. Think healthcare.