Outsourcing call center services can be a money saver but it can also cause the loss of valuable business and ruin patient satisfaction scores — IF you select the wrong outsourcing company. Outsourcing makes sense for many organizations because you can gain expertise in areas your organization doesn’t focus on, like patient receivables. Outsourcing call center services relieves you of training, supervision and turnover costs, allowing your core staff to focus on your core business – the patients.
Outsourcing helps your business stay lean and sharp—provided the quality is there in the outsourcer you choose.
Be sure to ask these key questions to help hone in on the perfect call center for your company:
1. What are your expertise areas?
Make sure the answer includes skills that match your company goals for outsourcing. Some outsource agencies are a one-stop shop that offer EVERYTHING. It’s up to you to decide if that’s what you’re looking for, or if you want them to be excellent at one or two things. Are you interested in reducing call-handling times, increasing patient satisfaction, better collection rates, payment plans for your patients? Your prospective outsourcing provider should demonstrate a depth of knowledge in the areas you’re looking for. Follow up with detailed questions based on strengths touted by the outsourcer--to see if they're truly knowledgeable.
2. Who are your other clients?
Get some feedback on recent and/or current clients that you can call to verify. Maybe listen to some success stories. Ideally the clients should be of similar size or industry to yours. It’s not necessarily important for the outsourcer to have 50+ clients, but it is important that all your goals line up with theirs and they’re people you can see yourself working with.
3. What are your quality assurance processes?
Ask QA guidelines and training docs given to call center employees. Are calls recorded and monitored for quality assurance purposes, are they audited? That’s something very important – especially if complaints come up or lawsuits.
4. What are your performance stats?
Ask about wait times, retention rates, collection rates. Again, ask for success stories, case studies and examples to get a better idea.
5. Why are you better than the competition? What extra experience or services do you bring to the table?
Does the outsourcer provide helpful extras like a solid relationship/affiliation with a bad debt collection agency, for example? This is a distinct advantage when you’re outsourcing billing or collections.
6. Can you describe and demonstrate your technology?
Make sure tech is advanced enough so that calls are clear, that dropped calls are at a minimum, that behind-the-scenes sounds don't interfere with calls. And again, are calls recorded and monitored?
7. Can you explain your data security measures?
Make sure you’re dealing with a state-of-the-art outsourcing firm. Be certain that data is protected and reliably stored. Ask about the disaster recovery plan. Bring a technical member of your staff to ask detailed follow-ups, inspect the answers given and equipment/tech processes used by the outsourcer.
8. How do you pre-screen call center staff?
As about background checks, pre-hire skills testing and staff turnover rate. It’s also important to SEE the call center and working conditions where your accounts will be handled or at least pictures of the place if you can't get there. Make sure you are comfortable with the operation.
9. What are your contingency plans to ensure my customer service is not interrupted?
Does staff work on-site or from home? Ask how various emergency situations would be handled—for instance if severe weather kept staff away from work, what if the power goes out, etc…
10. What are your billing options?
Ask for an explanation for both the patients (people the call center is calling on) and how you are expected to pay them, and most importantly, how are you getting your money?
11. Does my company have to pay to train your staff?
The outsourcing company should be well-versed in your industry’s latest best practices and major software used, including practice management software, but in some cases, minimal training IS necessary, so discuss that up front.
12. Can we listen to some calls?
Evaluate whether you’d enjoy talking with the call center reps and whether they’re knowledgeable. Do they show basic customer service skills, such as empathy? Is there a smile in their voice? Do they speak loudly enough to be understood? Do they sound professional? Listen to collection calls to hear for yourself.
13. Who is our point person?
You should ideally be assigned a dedicated account manager who will report to you daily/weekly. Find out how escalations are handled. If possible, meet supervisors who will handle customer escalations and your account/project manager.
14. Will we have a dashboard?
This should include real time reporting, forecasting and stats that you can sign in to view/download as needed. Is there remote access so you can check accounts in real-time?
15. What does your debt structure look like?
You don’t know unless you ask… or do your research! Check to see if your outsourced call center services provider is publicly traded, owes money to investors, and is likely to stay in business over the long term. This is important, but often not asked or is overlooked. If they are not in debt (or owing money to investors), you can be rest assured that their motivation to collect money is for YOU, and not to pay back money for themselves.
For the ultimate in front-end accounts receivable management, contact Varo Healthcare. Learn more about our customizable suite of services on our website or give us a call. Let us put our skills, experience and technology to work for you.