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Getting Started with a New Healthcare Contact Center: Identify Your (Mostly) Behind-the-Scenes Phone-a-Friend Supercrew

“Question: How do we call him?” “He gave us a signal.”
– Dialog from Batman (1989)

It was the international television show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? that popularized the idea of a Lifeline, and in particular, the metaphorical salvation that was the Phone-a-Friend variety.

Phone-a-Friend entered the lexicon, I believe, because of the notion’s seamless application to real life—having someone to call when a particular bit of expertise is needed is an especially helpful secret to life.

It’s no different as you operationalize a healthcare contract center.

To illustrate, imagine this very real scenario: a phone call at 3:37 AM on a Saturday morning notifying you that no phone calls are reaching agents and something appears to be wrong.

This and other somethings will occur because somethings that require Phone-a-Friend salvation in a call center tend to pop-up and, more often than not, require immediate attention. It is not at this time when you want to be trying to reach any professional contact from IT/telephony/human resources you’ve ever known. No, these situations require a member of your (Mostly) Behind-the-Scenes Phone-a-Friend Supercrew to Answer The Phone within a ring or two.

And in order to a) have someone to call and b) get them to pick up the phone you are going to need to a) find them and then b) convince them that a call center requires a different support model than other departments and services in the healthcare delivery organization. A contact center operates by the minute: so, for example, unfilled positions, buggy telephony, off-hours building issues, and dysfunctioning technology have a snowball-rolling-downhill like effect on the operation with interruptions creating a wrath that can last for days or longer. A contact center providing clinical services exasperates the situation.

Needless to say, unless you are lucky enough to collaborate with colleagues that have previously worked in call centers, the project team is going to have explain (beg, borrow, and bribe…) why a Call Center is Different (see previous paragraph) in your effort to create a (Mostly) Behind-the-Scenes Phone-a-Friend Supercrew.

Here’s a starting point for your Supercrew roster.

Desktop Support Superhero
The IT support model—often—shares desktop support professionals based on a geographic model so, on occasion when help seems too far away, you may have to get on your hands and knees to unplug and plug back in a piece of technology because it’s just not working. But regularly spending time underneath desks is not time well spent. Having an A+ Desktop Support Superhero, especially someone that understands why your minute-by-minute operation should carry a higher priority in the support ticket queue, is essential.

System Integration Swami
Integrations are part of every project—though we recommend holding off on any integrations until a later phase when possible—and having a System Integration Swami(s) available for technical and troubleshooting calls for each platform in use is an indispensable requirement when connecting technologies.

Telephony Specialist
Telephony issues are notoriously difficult to troubleshoot. And telephony experts from all sides will do their best to blame a problem on just about anyone marginally willing to accept responsibility until the entire problem-finding apparatus eventually points an evidence-based finger at the final culprit. That’s a fact of call center life. But avoiding the rigamarole, when possible, because of your Telephony Specialist will be time well spent.

Supply Chain Sage
Many supply chain departments (still) don’t understand that comfortable chairs, headsets with battery charges that last an entire shift, and multiple, large monitors make sitting in a cubicle and talking on the phone all day tolerable. Find someone willing to be your Supply Chain Sage to get what you need when you need it for your employees. This point cannot be emphasized enough.

Real Estate Savior
A Real Estate Savior is someone that knows your building and your lease and can help you find solutions when necessary. Having no security or no air conditioning or no lights or no building access or no cleaning service can be a real bummer at the wrong time.

Recruiting Sherpa
Administrative call center employees tend to leave their jobs. Clinical contact center employees tend to stay until they retire. This presents two different challenges. On the non-clinical side, sometimes an employee quits and doesn’t even provide two-weeks notice so having a short-list of whom to call next with a job offer and an ASAP start date is essential. The training and orientation required for a new nurse is time-consuming and resource intensive making anyone that “doesn’t work out” after a few months particularly expensive. These, and others, are challenges your Recruiting Sherpa should help you overcome.

Employee Relations Savant
Human Resource departments are stretched thin. Employees do things you wished they hadn’t. Having an Employee Relations Savant at the ready will provide you a peace of mind that lets you get needed sleep.

Your Supercrew roster may requite additional expertise. Having the mobile phone numbers of your Superhero, Swami, Specialist, Sage, Savior, Sherpa, and Savant saved to your Favorites is a demonstrably good start.

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