Last week we hosted a webinar, The Insurance Contact Center and the Affordable Care Act- Preparing for the Unknown, featuring insurance analyst, Ellen Carney of Forrester Research. Ellen had recently conducted research around the transition of the health insurance industry as it relates to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). One of the key takeaways from the event was to stress to contact center directors and managers, the importance of the contact center being prepared for major change come the October 1st go live date for enrollment. Ellen pointed out that as a result of a lack of resources such as informational websites, and limited public knowledge and understanding of the act, many contact centers will to take a hit once the new law comes into effect.
Although many states and organizations are already taking questions regarding the changes, a startling statistic in a recent USA Today article showed that 44% of 1,000 people surveyed by Kaiser in August didn’t even know if the law had actually passed. So, what does this mean for health insurers and the exchanges? You have your work cut out for you for sure, but here are just a couple things to help you be better prepared:
- TRAIN! – So many times when we are held to deadlines, training is the first thing to be pushed aside. The idea that training will happen while on the job or after the initial push is not a good option here. Even the most experienced contact center resources are going to be overwhelmed. Make sure that you provide them with the knowledge they need to provide a superior customer experience that helps your organization remain credible.
- Make process improvements – Over the next few months there will be many things that arise in your processes and procedures that show a need for improvement. Be modest, recognize that your existing practices might not be perfect, and look for ways to improve these, whether through the use of technology or management.
- Measure your workforce – Reporting and workforce optimization tools are going to be key in determining how and when to schedule contact center staff. Given the uncertainty of what’s to come, reviewing data around call volume, handle times, and overall staff performance will be very helpful in having an efficient contact center.
- Explore the cloud – Communications as a Service (CaaS) can be a great option for insurers and exchanges to help with the uncertainty in growth and needed resources. Not only are there multiple options for rolling out a CaaS model, it can help your organization grow and implement additional tools that you may not have been able to in the past.
- Update your information – Your website will be the first place a lot of people go for information. This is a great way to offer a self-service channel either through updated web content or knowledge management tools. This allows the contact center staff to focus on the higher priority inquiries.
What are some of the ways you’re preparing to meet the needs of insureds when the Affordable Care Act takes effect? Do you feel your contact center is ready for the demand? Share your thoughts.
~Jennifer Wilson Peevey