BPA Featured Article

VA Revamps Call Center to Improve Service for Veterans



By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
July 07, 2015


As we clean up the remains of our 4th of July celebrations, it’s appropriate that we examine what’s happening to help promote support of our country’s veterans. For Augusta’s (News - Alert) Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center, it means a focus on improving the overall experience.



In the world of 3rd party remote call monitoring, the customer experience is a primary metric – are customers receiving the service they demand; is there a short wait time if the customer has to wait at all; does the customer receive resolution upon first contact; is the organization measuring the outcome for the customer and making adjustments as necessary?

Each of these elements appears to be a priority for Augusta’s Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The organization announced a celebration of its “Summer of Service” with new administration, shorter wait times, an upgraded call center and an increase in community partnerships. The overall initiative is to better serve its 45,525 patients.

The Center launched the new initiative after it came under fire for overall service to veterans. Despite a change in leadership, the adjustments made to improve services are not without merit. For instance, the revamped call center has more than tripled its staff. This expansion has lowered the abandonment rate of veterans who hang up out of frustration from 30 percent to 1.5 percent.

Veterans may call the Center requesting medication, referrals for specialty care, lab results or for doctor’s notes for emergency room visits. The average answer rate for all calls is now at six seconds and well below the national average, according to the Center. The key to improving the experience in the call center was to take a step back, analyze need and make the necessary changes to ensure callers received the attention and care they needed.

Likewise, the use of 3rd party remote call monitoring can go a long way in helping the Center to analyze current activity and caller experiences. While the improvements made are important, the previous experience will soon be replaced with the current in terms of comparisons. The Center will have to stay focused on the call experience, ensuring agents have the right training, tools are updated over time and the satisfaction of the caller is measured on a regular basis.

The changes made here highlight the importance of paying attention to the metrics that can impact the caller and make adjustments where necessary to improve outcomes. While the goal is customer service, the ultimate mission is to improve the experience for all veterans.

 

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