Frost & Sullivan Report: Evolving the Healthcare Contact Center
Like every industry responding to the pandemic, healthcare had to quickly shift contact center agents to remote work, move more systems to the cloud, and leap-frog digital transformation efforts to continue to deliver services. Even front-line caregivers shifted many of their interactions to video communications to minimize direct contact with patients except in emergent situations.
Research firm Frost & Sullivan surveyed 129 healthcare decision-makers to discover how contact centers have changed as a result of the pandemic.
The report reveals that overall, 71% of healthcare orgs have moved to cloud contact centers, with 24% planning to do so within the next two years. Additionally, a vast majority of pharmacies have already made the move, with 90% entirely in the cloud.
Agent Performance Improves
The survey finds that more than 60% of agents moved to remote work. Despite the abrupt shift, agent performance has either stayed the same or improved. Overall, 52% of respondents report improved agent performance, 34% believe it has stayed the same, and only 13% feel it has worsened. Pharmacies reported the greatest performance increase at 71%.
Overall, the healthcare industry has shown great agility in the face of significantly increased demand. Contact centers were able to quickly shift agents to remote work, maintain operations, and improve performance. Whether they were already using cloud-based contact center platforms or made the switch, solutions like Five9 for healthcare support strong agent performance with accessibility, ease of use, integration, and AI-assisted features.
At the same time, healthcare has faced the same labor shortages and challenges as other industries. To combat this, they’ve focused on improving the agent experience. In the survey, 43% said they added new workforce management tools with flexible scheduling/preference features, 40% focused on agent empowerment, and 38% addressed management training. Interestingly, monetary incentives are eighth on the list of ways organizations are addressing agent retention, with 33% reporting competitive pay/monetary incentives.
Interaction Trends Shift to Digital
The shift to the cloud and dynamics of remote work and digital interactions with patients and members are clear in how trends have changed. Overall, 62% of healthcare orgs reported an increase in overall interactions.
Customers also shifted more of their interaction from voice to digital channels, rising to 63% in 2020 compared to 44% in 2019. Chat options stayed steady, while the greatest increases came in email and social media interaction.
It’s important to note that while voice decreased as an overall percentage of interactions, 64% of respondents reported an increase in the number of voice calls. Contact centers became significantly more efficient at answering voice calls, reducing average wait time by 61% and average call handle time by 48%.
Organizations that invested in virtual agents saw heavy adoption rates by patients and members in line with shifts toward self-service. Overall, 76% of healthcare organizations saw in increase in virtual agent interactions.
Customer Satisfaction Increases
But how did all these factors affect customer satisfaction? In addition to the agent productivity improvements, 66% of respondents reported improved CSAT scores. Investments in video paid dividends, with video chat receiving the highest level of customer satisfaction at 59%, followed by IVR at 58%, live-agent chat and voice tying at 56%, followed by SMS at 53%.
Innovation and Integration Prioritized
Integration became a top priority as contact centers moved to the cloud and looked to improve customer journeys, agent experiences, and business processes while gaining operational cost savings. Sixty percent of respondents rated integrating unified communications (UC) and contact center tools as extremely important.
And healthcare took action. Overall, 72% respondents said they had integrated their UC and contact centers. For those healthcare organizations that had not yet done so, 24% reported they plan to do so within two years.
Which technologies do healthcare contact centers plan to invest in next? Collaboration tools take top place (63%), followed closely by performance management (60%), proactive patient care (59%), quality monitoring (59%), and conversational AI and virtual (58%).
Digital Shifts to Continue
The healthcare industry has seen massive digital shifts and changed the way patients and members interact. As cloud adoption continues to increase, more benefits ripple out to customers and agents. Explore how Five9 works with healthcare organizations to help you unify communications, implement the latest contact center technologies, and improve agent experience — leading to better patient and member experience.