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If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has left us with, it’s an increased awareness of the importance of remote accessibility. Remote accessibility to essential services like healthcare is a top priority amongst patients and consumers, with more people listing ease of access and convenience ahead of quality of care.
The problem is the healthcare industry in general is slow to keep up when it comes to remote accessibility. Many providers still have not digitized their healthcare customer service offerings, and still rely heavily on easily overwhelmed phone support channels. Others lack any remote options for care, which is critical for at-risk customers and patients who need access to a pharmacist or medical provider from home.
The pace at which healthcare providers are unveiling digital customer service options doesn’t just hurt customers–it’s bad for business. 88% of respondents younger than 40 said they’ll choose their next provider based on a strong online presence.
Thankfully, strengthening digital customer service options is an easy and effective route to a better customer experience; not only does it improve patient acquisition and retention, but it also saves healthcare providers valuable time and money. Here are five ways to easily improve customer service in healthcare in 2021 and beyond.
For healthcare companies looking to expand their digital customer service offerings, there is no better or easier place to start than live chat.
Live chat enables patients to connect with healthcare representatives directly on a company’s website or mobile app in real-time. Its speed, simplicity, and availability make it a life-changing channel for patients who may rely on telemedicine for access to care, such as the elderly, chronically ill, or those living in rural areas. But it’s not just these groups who benefit from live chat: 79% of customers favor live chat over other channels for its immediacy, and over half of customers prefer live chat for its ease-of-use while multitasking. These numbers prove that live chat is a vital channel for busy customers who may be struggling to find time for their health while juggling work, parenting, and daily responsibilities.
Live chat is more than just the digital user’s favorite tool: healthcare companies also prefer it for its cost-saving potential. Live chat is at least 17% – 30% cheaper than a phone call, and can deliver up to 6000% ROI. Healthcare agents who could normally only answer one phone call at a time can answer three live chat requests simultaneously, thanks to a live chat capability known as chat concurrency.
With live chat, you can also initiate chats with website visitors yourself, either manually or automatically if they match certain criteria (for instance, if a customer has spent more than two minutes on a specific page). Warm welcomes, offers of assistance and more can proactively ease doubts and eliminate barriers to engagement.
Recommended watching: Proactively Invite Visitors to Chat
Canadian Blood Services is a great example of how live chat can improve customer service in healthcare. Like many healthcare institutions, Canadian Blood Services had used the phone as their primary customer service channel for many years. However, as the digital revolution gained momentum, their customer relations team noticed a problem: calls were unpopular with the younger demographic of donors. They needed to find a digital channel to help them reduce abandonment rates and increase bookings from donors.
By adding live chat to their healthcare customer service, Canadian Blood Services boosted engagement, increased repeat bookings and encouraged further adoption of their self-serve web-based account management platform.
Read the full story: Comm100 Live Chat Helps Canadian Blood Services Connect with Digital-First Customers
Gathering patient information is a time-consuming act that eats up at healthcare companies’ resources. With an AI-powered chatbot as a virtual triage, your healthcare workers can drop the headache of collecting data and get straight to assisting customers.
Chatbots work through a live chat interface, and can be set to automatically greet web visitors when they “walk in the door.” Customers can fill out the who, what, where, when, and why in a pre-chat survey. They can then be routed to an AI chatbot that can answer common FAQs like “What are the pharmacy’s holiday hours?”; “Is Doctor X in today?”; and “I need to reschedule my appointment”. Unlike a conventional triage, chatbots are available 24/7 and empower customers to get assistance on their time, independent of your company’s schedule.
AI doesn’t only work in the customer’s favor though. Agent-facing AI known as Agent Assist automatically pulls up resources for your customer service agents by monitoring questions in real-time. Healthcare providers can get instant access to articles, frequently used responses, and more, enabling them to serve customers more efficiently and accurately. Agent Assist gets smarter the more it’s used by observing agent behavior to improve answer suggestions.
AI’s efficiency features add up to another key benefit: they save more money for healthcare providers. Find out how AI can save your healthcare organization money with our chatbot ROI calculator below.
Recommended: Chatbot ROI Calculator
Live chat does more than just create a text-based digital touchpoint: it opens the door to more personalized, helpful customer service by bringing the in-person experience to the digital realm. Two key tools to achieve this are co-browsing and video chat.
Video chat brings customers face-to-face with healthcare representatives from the comfort of their own homes. This is particularly important in the age of COVID as in-person interactions continue to be restricted for many people. Video chat – or telemedicine as it is often known – can ensure high patient engagement during an appointment, and help establish patient-doctor trust. It can mirror the normalcy of an office visit and the convenience of a phone call.
Co-browsing is another tool that healthcare companies are using to create a virtual brick-and-mortar experience. Co-browsing makes complex interactions simple by letting agents instantly view and interact with a visitor’s web browser. Healthcare agents can give customers a virtual product tour, walking them through available options and how to use them. Representatives can also use co-browsing to help customers with technical issues.
Recent research by Vidyo has found that remote and video-enabled care is becoming a critical cornerstone of healthcare delivery, with over 75% of providers operating or planning to launch telemedicine services in the year to come. One company that has already begun to see returns is Viata, an online pharmacy business that serves customers in six different languages across Europe.
“Our strategy is to have very personalized communication with our customers, so we set up our chat to enable customers to pick and choose who they want to talk to anytime they visit our site,” says co-founder of Viata, Gianni De Gaspari. “In our industry, context is important to building trust when talking about health-related concerns.”
Viata currently boasts a 20% chat conversion rate, thanks in part to its video and co-browsing offerings. De Gaspari notes that co-browsing has been particularly effective for Viata’s older customers, who might otherwise be deterred by back-and-forth explaining without a visual aid. Agents and pharmacists have been able to cultivate more positive personal relationships with both prospects and customers, and have driven more sales as a result of this brick-and-mortar-style personalization.
A few years ago, improving your digital customer service meant adding a new channel onto an already inflated tech stack. Patient information was kept in silos, and the chance of their history being immediately accessible was slim to none.
Today’s healthcare companies know that to improve customer service, consistency and visibility are vital. Healthcare companies must seek out an omnichannel customer service solution that unifies their digital platforms while also allowing for scalability.
Omnichannel customer service solutions unite conversations from every channel in a single agent console. Agents have access to a customers’ entire history whether they are reaching you via live chat, SMS, email, messaging, or social media. This creates a cohesive customer experience, and helps prevent customers from having to restate their needs or reiterate a past conversation. This is especially important in healthcare, where repetition about medication or medical visits can feel not only frustrating for patients, but anxiety-inducing as well.
With omnichannel, healthcare companies can provide personalized support which helps improve engagement, loyalty, and patient satisfaction. Companies with strong omnichannel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, compared to 3.4% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies.
It’s impossible to improve customer service in healthcare without careful attention to security and privacy. Since the end of 2020, there has been a 45% increase in cyber-attacks targeting healthcare organizations globally, which is more than double the increase in cyber-attacks across all other industries worldwide in the same period of time. Now more than ever, it is critical that healthcare companies engage with systems and solutions that adhere to international data privacy and security standards.
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a US federal statute that was enacted to help keep patient information safe and confidential. Whether you’re a small doctor’s office or a multi-location patient services provider, your customer service solution should be HIPAA compliant. Other key forms of compliance that are met by secure customer service providers are SOC 2 Type II, ISO 27001, GDPR, and PCI DSS.
PCI DSS-compliance is an international standard of security for any companies accepting payment via live chat, and is required if your healthcare agents help customers with purchases. With PCI DSS-compliance your customers can make secure payments via credit card masking, secure forms, and irreversible encryption designed to keep passwords and other sensitive information as safe as possible.
Recommended for you: HIPAA Compliant Digital Engagement for Healthcare Providers
Companies that cut corners on these safety standards while expanding their digital customer service aren’t only risking patient information — they are at risk of losing millions of dollars in ransom payments, costly downtime, and hefty fines for non-compliance. While secure live chat platforms have advanced safety technologies in place to prevent data breaches and downtime, it is critical that you educate your healthcare customer service team on how to identify phishing and ransomware attacks which target email and mobile devices.
Ninety-two percent of healthcare consumers agree that improving patient experience should be a top strategic priority for medical providers over the next year. To meet patient expectations, this requires an urgent and decisive move to invest in the technologies needed to improve the customer experience today.
The demands of healthcare providers shift quickly from year to year. But one thing that stays constant is customer expectation – customers expect the same efficiency and support from their healthcare providers as they do from other industries they interact with – food delivery apps, streaming channels, and eCommerce. By investing in your healthcare customer service today, you can not only improve life for your healthcare workers and patients, but lead as a cross-industry example of quality care. To know what that looks like, just ask Viata Co-founder, Gianni De Gaspari:
“We’ve had other eCommerce businesses come take a look at what we’re doing and ask for advice. We’re well known for being a very customer-oriented company and live chat’s unique features help us deliver great service. We don’t measure customer service as an expense but focus on quality and the time spent to provide great experiences. Without customers, we don’t have a business.”
For more information on how to improve customer service in healthcare, check out our eBook below:
Read this ebook to find out how tech like live chat and AI chatbots play a crucial role in delivering better service and earning greater loyalty for Healthcare providers.Read more