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Omnichannel Communications – The Next Big Thing in Healthcare

Omnichannel Healthcare
August 10, 2018 / jbrooks

These days business owners are focused as much on customer satisfaction as they are on generating revenue. This is particularly true in the healthcare industry, where the patient-centric model means a shift in how care is perceived. Patients are not only concerned with what happens during their visit but also what happens before and after.

Thanks to ever-evolving communication technologies, patients have become more hands-on when it comes to the quality of care they receive. This demand for more engagement by patients from their care providers presents specific challenges for the contact center environment.


The Need for Omni-Channel in Healthcare

Since the definition of the patient “experience” has now shifted, healthcare contact centers must now adopt an omnichannel approach to engagement. The days of purely telephone-based communication have come and gone. Today’s centers must integrate other channels such as email, web chat and SMS.

But what exactly has caused such a demand for these additional channels? In a word – Millennials.

Millennials, also know as the “trillion-dollar generation,” were born not with silver spoons in their mouths, but with a smartphone in one hand and a tablet in the other. This is the generation that finds it incredibly easy to hop from one channel to the next while walking, talking or watching TV.

It is this effortless channel surfing that has caused the shift in consumer (patient) expectations when it comes to engagement. No matter where a consumer is, and no matter what their preferred method of interaction, touchpoints must seamlessly integrate. And now, thanks to advanced technology, this integration is possible and the omnichannel revolution has been born.


What Exactly is Omnichannel?

Some people might define omnichannel simply as an integrated, multichannel approach to sales and marketing with the intention of providing consumers with a better experience. But that’s not going far enough, because omni- and multi-channel don’t mean the same thing exactly.

When you think multi-channels, you generally think of providing more channels of engagement. But omnichannel engagement is about more than offering a variety of channels with which a consumer can interact with your brand.

Omnichannel is as much about quality of engagement as it is about the quantity of touchpoints offered. At the end of the day, the goal of omnichannel engagement is to create a business model that weaves preferred and robust channels together, and that also shares data between them. This enables consumers to conduct business with brands however they want and whenever they want while receiving only relevant communications.

From the consumer’s point of view, it doesn’t get any better than this. And THAT is an exceptional customer experience.


3 Steps to Transform Your Call Center into An Omnichannel Powerhouse

Many call centers are unsure of how to get onboard the omnichannel revolution. If you would like to take your call center to the next level but feel confused and overwhelmed by the sheer number of digital options available, the following 3 steps will take the guesswork out of how to adopt an omnichannel approach.


Step 1: Implement the Channels Your Customers are Already Using

If you are confused as to which channels you should be leveraging, think about which channels will bring the most value to the patient. Don’t try to be everywhere at once, you’ll drop the ball. To meet patient expectations and provide a positive interaction, figure out which channels patients prefer and already use. To do so, answer these questions:

• Who are your customers?
• What do they want to achieve?
• What’s the best channel that will meet their needs?

Next, you’ll want to map out the patient journey to pinpoint what leads them to contact you in various ways. When you clearly understand their thought process, find data on what channels they prefer, then map out what you’ll need to put in place to meet their needs.


Step 2: Invest in Digital Channels

According to a recent survey by ICMI, 53% of consumers say that they prefer online chat before calling a company on the phone. While voice and phone will still be fundamental to how you deliver your services, in order to evolve and meet new customer demands, you’ll need to leverage the cloud and digital trends to stay competitive.


Step 3: Have Agents Utilize One Tool

You’ll be better able to deliver exceptional patient outcomes and NOT pull your own hair out if you use one tool that seamlessly integrates all of your channels. You’ll spend less time having to train your agents on numerous tools and channels and will then have more time to devote to improving customer satisfaction.


Where is Omnichannel Headed?

We are already beginning to see some omnichannel trends in the healthcare space. Healthcare systems have begun to transition from treatment to proactive wellness. This has and will continue to have an impact on the omnichannel experience. Call centers may soon take on other tasks such as reaching out to patients with healthcare tips or setting up and managing wellness programs.

As wearables become more commonplace, healthcare systems may track consumer’s fitness levels. This tracked data can be used to offer relevant information.

We can definitely expect to see more and more call centers use web chat, SMS/MMS, email, social media, live video, virtual reality and any other emerging channels that come onto the scene. It will become absolutely necessary for call centers to become agile to stay ahead of the curve as new technologies emerge.


Final Thoughts

Call centers will become more like engagement centers in the very near future. There is no need to fear this trend and every reason to embrace it. Call centers that use an omnichannel approach to improve customer support will thrive and Evolve IP can absolutely help in that department.

Evolve IP’s Gartner-acclaimed cloud call center is already a robust solution. But when you combine that solution with our award-winning Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) suite, that fully integrates voice, video, instant messaging & presence (IM&P), desktop sharing, and audio/web conferencing (oh, and we integrate with your CRM for a consistent desktop, tablet and mobile experience), you have a seamless and fully-supported way to step into the future and become an omnichannel powerhouse.

Give us a call today and let’s get started.

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