The Importance of CTI in Healthcare Call Centers

By David Baker

When people think of healthcare, they think of red tape and long waits. Whether you go into a doctor’s office, visit a hospital, or call on the telephone, it seems as though you spend more time waiting than actually getting answers. It can be a stressful and frustrating situation, but with the right technology, some of those frustrations can disappear and make the process more efficient and streamlined.

When You Don’t Have Time to Chat: Let’s say one of your loved ones is being rushed into surgery, and you want to call your healthcare provider to see if that particular surgery is covered. When you make this call, you are typically not in a good frame of mind, and the last thing that you want to deal with is a customer service agent who is asking you a bunch of questions. It’s bad enough to have to traverse through the menu options on the IVR (interactive voice response) to find the right option for surgical coverage.

This is typically where the volcano erupts. You’re already worried about your loved one and are concerned about the cost of the operation. The last thing that you want is to be asked by the customer service agent for your member number, group number, or reason for calling as you have already keyed this information into the IVR a few minutes earlier. At this point, having to repeat yourself again is likely to make you lose your temper.

Customer Information Built Right In: This situation could have been avoided had the healthcare provider implemented CTI (computer telephony integration) in their call center. CTI is the ability to pass a caller’s information, along with their call, simultaneously to a customer service agent. The customer service agent’s phone will ring, and the caller’s information will be presented to the agent on their screen.

In the case of the surgery example, a customer’s experience would have been different had CTI been implemented in the healthcare provider’s call center. With CTI, a caller would first enter their member number and group number in the IVR, and then choose the option for surgical coverage. The IVR system would go to a backend database or mainframe system and retrieve the caller’s information based on their member number and group number. Once the information is retrieved, it is then populated onto the customer service agent’s screen while the call is routed to that same agent.

The interaction between the caller and agent would be that much friendlier and comforting because the agent would greet them by name (the caller’s information is on their screen), would know why they are calling (based on what options they chose in the IVR), and would be able to quickly help them by answering their questions.

The Benefits of Implementing CTI: CTI is a CEO’s answer to the three main questions that keep him or her up at night:

  1. How can I improve customer service?
  2. How can I decrease costs?
  3. How can I increase revenue?

Implementing a CTI solution in your call center will do all three of these things. CTI helps decrease the cost per call, improve telephone customer service, and increase revenue by building brand loyalty while differentiating yourself from your competition and driving new business for your company. Agents save valuable time when customer background information is already built into the system. With CTI, each customer interaction is personalized, making for a stronger overall customer experience. CTI is a cost-effective way to ensure that your members stay with you for many years to come.

If your healthcare organization has not implemented a CTI solution yet, what are you waiting for?

David Baker serves as the vice president of sales and business development for Servion North America. He brings with him over 16 years of experience in selling contact center solutions primarily focused around IVR, CTI, and speech recognition.

[From the December 2012/January 2013 issue of AnswerStat magazine]