Call Center Management Feature Article
February 24, 2014
Better Call Center Management Could Have Saved Obamacare a Lot of Headaches
By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor
When stories about the challenges of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) first surfaced in the media last year, I couldn’t help but smile knowingly.
I didn’t smile because I was happy to see ACA struggle in its implementation. I smiled knowingly because I could imagine the challenges that were taking place in the contact centers involved with the healthcare program. I knew it was probably chaos. And I knew it didn’t have to be.
As anybody currently living in the U.S. probably knows, ACA shook up the healthcare market last year and created health exchanges where citizens were supposed to be able to make sense of the program and find affordable healthcare.
The system had a very rocky start, to say the least, and there were many reports of callers having trouble reaching agents, of agents not having the proper information, of dropped call transfers and other predictable snafus that come from such a large program.
With a lot of confusion around the change in healthcare, the contact center has become the front line for many U.S. citizens trying to make sense of the new healthcare landscape. This has required agents well schooled in procedures and program knowledge.
It also has meant a fair amount of stress for agents, who have had to deal with complex plan issues and frequently irate callers. I don’t blame the callers; I saw one of my own family members try to navigate her way through the new healthcare landscape, only to lose days from trying to make sense of it all and get the right information and results from the agents she called.
What I blame is second-rate call center management. It has been a tough situation, indeed, but with better contact center management there could be better agent scheduling, better education, and better resolution when problems did occur.
Workforce optimization software (WFO) could have helped make the launch much smoother. WFO allows contact centers to more accurately forecast and plan personnel needs by running what-if scenarios and analyzing the results. After the level of increased demand has been determined, scheduling becomes more efficient and flexible, making better utilization of limited resources and improving cost management.
Better WFO and call center management could have made a painful rollout less painful both for the contact center and the callers.
Employing a software-as-a-service model also could have allowed the health exchanges to adapt better. That’s because locating contact center software in the cloud delivers a fast, flexible and scalable infrastructure—something that these healthcare contact centers obviously needed.
With cloud-based contact center software, there’s minimal upfront investment, almost instant setup, an expedited learning curve for agents using the software, a low predictable monthly subscription, scalability to adjust to fluctuating peak hours—and guaranteed best-practices security, a must for healthcare-related calls.
I don’t know if using a cloud-based solution from a company such as Monet Software would have removed all the hiccups. But it sure would have made a difference.
That’s why I couldn’t help but smile as I read all the reports of trouble with the health exchanges. So much of the trouble was needless.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi