In traditional employee training programs, new hires go through rigorous programs. Rather than run through the “kitchen sink” of industry, technical, and procedural lessons in a module format, contact center employees today need agility and nimbleness when it comes to information and access.
This means it’s time for a new approach to healthcare contact center learning and development, which features a combination of new strategies, tactics, and tools. First, a cultural change is needed. “Learning” is different than “training.” While training focuses on compliance, competence, and teacher mastery, learning is about continuous excellence and student empowerment. Someone who learns actively and enthusiastically participates in the process, and takes ownership of newfound knowledge and expertise.
If done well, employees will consider learning programs as an opportunity to grow personally and professionally. The goal of a next-gen learning program is to continuously develop employees who are experts in their field and confident about what they know and how to get the job done.
While it’s important to evolve employee learning and development, it can be a challenging endeavor. We recommend five best practices to help start the journey.
1. Look outside the healthcare industry.
The “Amazon” effect has changed consumers forever. They expect a positive customer experience with all companies they do business with, regardless of industry. This is a challenge to payers. To catch up, look at how top brands in other industries approach associate learning and development. While healthcare may be unique, your customers are not. They are customers of other industries, too. Tailoring best practices from those industries into healthcare is the key to differentiating yourself. Research where your customers go when they want a “best-in-class” experience outside of healthcare.
2. Design a program that addresses what’s important to your business.
Some companies want to handle calls quickly. Others want to deliver white glove concierge service. While others want to right-channel different types of customer interactions. There is no one “right” way to design a learning program. The key is to identify your organization’s objectives, and set KPIs that match. Then, find the right talent with the right skills to operate in the learning environment you design to reach those objectives. Finally, train to those objectives and KPIs.
3. Focus on the right information.
Many companies think that quantity equals quality when it comes to their knowledgebase. What actually happens is that information overload overwhelms people. It’s hard to find relevant information, and a lot of resources are wasted on information that’s never accessed. Instead, learn why people call, when, and what types of resolutions they want. Use tools and practice-based learning to perfect the interactions around these types of calls. Update information often, and remove outdated content. This may require up-front resources, but in the long run it saves time, energy, and improves the experience.
4. Build employee confidence.
We can’t stress this enough. A confident workforce makes all the difference to a superior interaction. Design your program to continuously reinforce the right types of employee activity, and allow them to share their insight in the knowledgebase. Train employees on knowledge, but also on how to find information if they don’t know the answer. Information is always changing, especially in healthcare. In some cases it’s more important to know how to find the right information, than what the information actually is. On the back-end, make sure all the programs and systems are built with the customer interaction in mind.
5. Incentivize people to continue learning and growing.
Learning and development is not a one-and-done event. It must be allowed to grow organically, as the role of the contact center grows and customer interactions change. Allow your employees to grow with it. Incentivize associates to contribute to making the system better, or speak up when it isn’t working well. Emerging programs like gamification add a sense of accomplishment, community, and achievement to employee incentives initiatives.
The health insurance industry changes every day. Payers who can help members and other constituents maneuver through these changes will rise to the top. That’s why it’s so important for the contact center to be staffed with employees who are considered guides and experts, not just traditional associates. Advanced learning and development can help health insurers realize these employee goals, to the benefit of customers and the company. It’s time to move away from traditional training to develop experts who can help consumers throughout their member journey.
Read the white paper, "An Expert Workforce Breeds Best-in-Class Service," to learn more.
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