GE Healthcare, a leading healthcare technology provider, provides technology systems, digital infrastructure, and customer services to hospitals across the United States. As a key partner, TTEC provides customer service and prompt on-field support to medical technicians and healthcare providers using medical devices such as MRI machines. Agents handle inbound calls and coordinate with field engineers to provide the requested service, repair, or ordered parts, sometimes during critical medical procedures when every second counts.
Because of this structure, an agent’s role is crucial and determines the speed and resolution of the request. Agent accuracy when handling a request is a must. As a result, GE Healthcare approached TTEC for assistance designing a new training and knowledge base program to streamline and accelerate training for contact center agents, ensuring that they were ready to perform in a high-pressure environment from day one.
Separately, the operations team noticed that agent-related errors were beginning to creep up. An investigation was quickly launched to halt the error increase and identify the cause.
After reviewing the monthly call records, it became apparent that agent errors occurred when the agents took notes during a call. The agents were forced to navigate a complex path within a job aid to reach the notation section. What’s more, the agents lacked a structured, uniform approach to notating or documenting interactions and service requests.
To solve the problem, we proposed redesigning the notating sections of the job aids that agents utilized during a call, creating uniformity and ease of use. The operations director indicated that an interactive “notepad” for inserting notes, copying them, and inserting them into the CRM system would be helpful. We kept this in mind to determine if we could incorporate it into our restructure.
Utilizing our team’s extensive knowledge base experience and knowledge of different programs, we identified a custom-made interactive notepad that is inserted into learner guides for learners to use while in training. We proceeded to replicate this function into GE Healthcare’s job aid templates. It took some HTML coding manipulation, but we successfully incorporated the active field within the notation section of the job aids.
In total, eight job guides which contained the job aids were updated. The job guides now provide agents with a standardized template, steps, and key sections to fill in, as well as an interactive active field within the notation section. Agents were trained to copy and paste the template into the active field, follow the steps, insert the blanks, and then copy the complete template to the CRM system.
Optimized digital training
GE Healthcare also approached TTEC for help creating training and knowledge base solutions that would streamline, accelerate, and standardize training for Inside Parts Sales (IPS) agents who handle orders for different product categories, ranging from patient monitoring to diagnostic imaging equipment. The goal was to create a consistent and modularized digital training that requires minimal facilitation, can be deployed as needed, and is supported by a robust and centralized knowledge base.
Our instructional design team met with key stakeholders, operations, training, and quality assurance (QA) team members to identify areas of opportunity to improve agent process knowledge of various products and systems, along with improving employee soft skills such as communication skills and empathy. Together, we came up with the following solutions:
The training curriculum consisted of digital courses which include engagement and knowledge activities. It also included standalone, self-paced activities, gamification, RealPlay™, assessments, and knowledge articles. Learners accessed the curriculum through a virtual “hospital,” where each floor represented the training curriculum for individual GE Healthcare lines of business. Within the floor, the learners navigated their way through the course content.
Self-paced course are online courses used to teach learners about different terminology, processes, and systems that learners would use in their role as an agent for IPS. Courses included a variety of activities based on the content that was discussed including hot spot activities, flip-cards, interactive images, and process walkthroughs that would be used to complete a certain task as an agent with IPS. The courses were designed to keep the learner engaged throughout by having them interact with the environment. Each course also included Knowledge Checks to verify the learner understood the material and remained engaged throughout the training.
Micro-Drills were used to allow learners to practice using different systems via scenario-based activities. These activities focused on the processes the learners reviewed during the previous days’ training including verifying customers, creating or cancelling orders, locating pricing for a customer, solving customer issues, and handling cases that involved different ordering systems. Micro-drills included conversations between an agent and a customer, where the learner had to identify key information to log into a system.
Other Micro-Drills were research-based, where learners used knowledge articles to locate information to answer questions in a module.
Demonstration and Do
Demonstration and Do activities taught and reinforced the ability to complete common system tasks. Each Demonstration and Do activity included three parts:
Process in Action – Learners watched a screen recording of a process being completed in the system that was being discussed.
Step-By-Step Breakdown – Learners reviewed the process in a step-by-step breakdown that outlines key information to be entered, how to perform each step, and which options to select to proceed through the process.
Try it Yourself – Learners practiced executing the process in a simulated software environment, with limited guidance, using hints when they got stuck on a step.
Various games were developed for learners to engage in knowledge article content while challenging them to complete different games with the highest score. Throughout each game, learners referred to different knowledge base articles to locate answers to questions. Learners also prepared for assessments by reviewing material that was discussed during training.
RealPlay™ activities were scenario-based activities in which learners engaged in a phone call with a customer (another agent) using IPS’ phone system. These activities were designed to provide learners with a role-play in which they practiced engaging with a customer and performing the process steps to complete a task in a system. After each RealPlay™ scenario was completed, learners received feedback about what was done well and what needed to be worked on.
Knowledge Articles were developed around the different Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that IPS uses on a day-to-day basis when working with customers. These articles were designed to guide agents to answers by having them select different options or answer different questions. Designed as references, agents were expected to use the correct knowledge article when assisting customers with various needs or concerns.
Within one month after implementing the interactive notepad and new job guides, the error rate began to drop, reaching the lowest error rate in all GE Healthcare history four months later. Improving the notation function brought the error rate down to 0.05%, an incredible .95% reduction. In addition to the reduction in error rate, there was a significant decrease in average handle time (AHT) for nearly all lines of business.
The TTEC team reduced the overall AHT by 18 seconds quarter over quarter—a 4.5% decrease. The results were so impactful that GE Healthcare has requested we implement these into all future job guides and knowledge articles.
In regards to the new training curriculum, success was measured by reducing average call handling time, training overhead, and error rates. We succeeded on every front.
The first cohort of agents trained by the redesigned curriculum posted significant reductions in average call handling time (AHT). The agents achieved a 26% reduction in AHT in a six-month period, with a significant one-minute reduction in the month following the launch of the knowledge base solution.
The redesigned training and knowledge base helped ensure a consistent application of business processes among agents, as evidenced by the low incidence of erroneous calls. The average error rate over a six-month period was only 0.11% (or 25 out of 23,024 calls).
Finally, the training approach has increased IPS efficiency by providing a “just in time” method for onboarding new agents. The digital delivery of training materials means that the training can be deployed at a moment’s notice to meet sudden demands.
Update: The latest cohort of agents trained by the newly designed knowledge base have posted significant reductions in AHT. The agents achieved a 50.40% reduction in AHT from April 2021 to September 2021, with a significant two-minute decrease in the month following the launch of the KB solution.