Against popular belief, the longer the average contact-center call time the better the result in workers’ comp.
By Paul Binsfeld, president and founder of Company Nurse, LLC
Call centers often use average call time (ACT) as a metric to measure customer service “efficiency.” This is a really dumb idea according to a recent article Managed Care Matters published by Joe Paduda, titled “Work comp service companies – Don’t do this.” And we agree.
ACT is not a good measure of quality. In fact, measuring averages may be a bad indicator as each call has its own unique situation that requires appropriate time, given what’s happened to an employee.
With workers’ compensation intake calls, it’s a balancing act. The call has to be long enough to get information needed, but short enough not to create issues – from the standpoint of both claims reporting and quality of care for an injured worker.
Morgan Clinch, injury hotline manager at Company Nurse, has more then 20 years experience in specialty areas of contact center management for major national brands. He has seen the evolution of customer service become a form of disengagement through automation with a brand’s most important ambassadors – its customer. While retail may go the route of low ACT to maximize the bottom line, according to Clinch this approach would be devastating in the workers’ compensation sector.
“Quality in the communication between an injured employee and the nurse hotline is vital to a positive outcome, and that takes time,” said Clinch. “The human side of a workers’ comp interaction is imperative as empathy is necessary to fully understand the individual’s needs, and that quality over the phone makes a direct impact to the result of the case downstream. Providing an employee with high quality care at the onset of an injury generally results in a smoother claims process – as well as reducing the likelihood of employees requiring legal assistance. After all, the workers’ compensation system was designed to be a no fault system to avoid the need for litigation.”
ACT is oftentimes talked about as a number that needs to be reduced. This causes the contact center to speed up and rush through a conversation to meet quotas. In workers’ compensation, calls from an injured worker require that every detail be captured. While a supervisor at a plant may want to get back to work quickly, for example, dedicating appropriate time to an employee is more productive – financially and otherwise – to a company in the end.
How do we grade the quality of a call?
- Completeness. The completeness of a record for reporting.
- Human effect. The tone of an agent, his/her ability to listen and empathize, the correct use of grammar, and pace of the call are all contributors to a successful outcome.
- Decisiveness. Decision-making at the front line.
Through classroom training, side-by-side employee development, and establishing clear guidelines, Company Nurse has increased its “call quality score” by 20 percent over the past three months alone. “We are always striving to continue to excel,” comments Clinch.
“There is a lot of turnover in call centers,” added Andrea Combs, director of client management services at Company Nurse. “Paul [Binsfeld] created a culture where people want to stay. Our company core values permeate every level of the company, even through our conversations with injured workers. By being compassionate and going the extra two miles with callers, we develop a relationship with the individual so they trust us. In the end, a happy employee leads to a happy client.”
Zappos.com changed the call center industry for B2C, and we are committed to changing it for B2B. So, how much average call time achieves the greatest ROI in the worker’s comp services field? As long as it takes.
Paul Binsfeld is the founder and president of Company Nurse, LLC, a firm that specializes in medical triage and injury management for workers’ compensation. In Q4 2016, Binsfeld formally launched the first-to-market SaaS solution for worker’s compensation nurse triage management.
Binsfeld’s career began as a workers’ compensation consultant with mid-size employers helping to streamline claims processes and improve outcomes for injured workers. By working with many different types of employers, he identified a common need for early intervention in the workers’ compensation claims and injury management process, and thus, Company Nurse was born in 1997. Binsfeld – one of the pioneers of the pre-claim nurse triage industry – was recently appointed to the Entrepreneurial Insurance Alliance Advisory Board of Directors. He has over 25 years of experience in workers’ compensation and is one of the most influential leaders in the market.