Evolved Journey Mapping and Accelerated Learning

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.

Before I share our approach to journey mapping read my last post on Building Human Connection and Why Sentiment is the Core.

Journey Mapping

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.

Probing

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.

Opportunity

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:

It takes different skills to create a different type of agent.

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:

  • Proficiency
  • Accuracy
  • Confidence
  • Empathy
How the PACE™ program curricula compares to traditional training programs.

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.

Building Human Connection and Why Sentiment is the Core

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!

Beyond Measurement

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.

Human Connections are based on Emp-A-ThyInvestigation 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.

Read part two of this post where we dive into journey mapping and building your training programs around customer intent. You can also check out a recorded session that Jenny led here or learn more about our PACE™ program here.

Instructional Design Restructure, A Case Study

BACKGROUND

A regional health care company that offers a broad spectrum of group and network-based health care products to over 3.6 million members.

CHALLENGES

The Instructional Design Team was under performing. The training material was outdated, the material lacked industry standard best practices and adult learning techniques and was often incomplete. The training resulted in contact center agents not being ready for their role.

ZELUS APPROACH

Zelus used their extensive knowledge of the health care industry, contact centers and instructional design skills to complete a needs analysis of all the contact center teams; and reviewed all the training material in the department. From the needs analysis Zelus re-imaged and updated all training material for new hire classes, gap training classes, new system training and the company’s product training.

RESULTS

  • Redesigned the training material for all lines of business, including Medicare and Medicare Advantage; over 750 documents.
  • Increased speed to market for new and revised material. The Zelus team worked 3x faster than the industry standard across the entire engagement.
  • Incorporated robust hands-on exercises in training that spanned multiple systems.
  • Built assessments to predict the capability of the trainee to do the job.
  • Established the use of state of the art web-based training as a best practice for delivering awareness training to agents.
  • Implemented a training approach that resulted in floor-ready trainees that met quality and productivity goals.
  • Launched new contact channels, more than 10 software applications, and Healthcare Reform and Medicare Products.

Click here for a printer-friendly version of this case study.

Call Center Optimization & Technical Implementation, A Case Study

BACKGROUND

A nationally recognized and trusted consumer brand committed to helping members create and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

CHALLENGES

The company was preparing for a significant product change anticipating that membership would increase substantially. The contact center had long lacked the focus and attention required to infuse the brand experience across inbound calls, emails, and online chats. The contact center was preparing for a significant ramp up in volume while it lacked technology solutions to support its agents.

ZELUS APPROACH

  • Developed a road map to achieve short-term launch efficiencies and long-term operational vision for the contact center. Created an operational launch plan to handle a large customer increase without creating excessive costs.
  • Based on organizational decision to build a proprietary CRM system, the client used Zelus’ extensive contact center expertise and skilled staff to define business and functional requirements, manage prioritization, lead UAT efforts, train staff, and provide application deployment and launch support.
  • Developed comprehensive blended learning, virtual and classroom program with WBT at its core; resulting in a quick, accurate, and consistent training for over 400 agents.
  • Created RFI requests for contact center voice, chat and knowledge management solutions defining best practice needs within each channel. Key member of the selection process for all three solutions.
  • Created operational improvements to shift the nature of contact center contacts from largely administrative to a more value-added support model.
  • Comprehensively reviewed all content in organizational content management system to align to new system launches and reflect the brand

RESULTS

Since the effort started, the contact center:

  • Reduced contacts per member by 29%
  • Reduced cost per contact by more than 35%
  • Delivered more than $20M in savings to the organization
  • Achieved a 4-point gain in first contact resolution
  • Supported at 25% membership increase while improving performance

Click here for a printer-friendly version of this case study.

Your Company’s Brand is heard in the Contact Center

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.

To learn more about our suite of services and the additional benefits of partnering with Zelus for your call center training needs, please contact us at (617) 821-1061 or info@zelusllc.com.

Jenny Graham, co-founder of Zelus LLC, is an expert in operational performance and excellence with over 15 years of experience developing and implementing innovative operational strategies to improve overall business performance and utilization.