Better begins with the first phone call
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
The 1-800-KARMANOS phone number is Karmanos’ front door, and it’s a revolving door that keeps turning 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Our calm, compassionate staff information specialists field every call, whether it’s from someone who wants details about a fundraising event to directions to Weisberg to the phone number for a patient’s room.
“You never know what kind of call you’re going to get,” said Branden Scott, a two-year Call Center veteran and one of the 13 full and part-time staff information specialists who answer as many as 200 calls per day. “Sometimes the caller needs something simple like an appointment rescheduled, other times they need help finding financial assistance because they don’t have health care, and sometimes they need me to be counselor, therapist, mathematician and fortune teller all rolled into one.”
When a new or returning patient needs to schedule an appointment, information specialists transfer the caller to a member of the Patient Concierge team. Team members who specialize in helping patients schedule the appointments they need take over from there.
Though information specialists in the Call Center handle a high volume of calls, they are not given call quotas or pressured to get callers off the line quickly.
“Our mantra is ‘whatever it takes’ to get the person on the other end of that line what they need,” said April Brown, director of Concierge Services. “Whether that takes 10 seconds or 20 minutes, our goal is first call resolution – getting the caller the answers they need the very first time they call. I tell the staff that our patients need to use all their energy to fight their cancer not our system.”
Though the calls never stop coming and the stress level can rise, the Call Center staff members know they can depend on each other.
“Our department is like a family,” said Scott. “We help each other give callers the answers they need, share our stories and talk things over after a tough call.”
Asked what motivates him to answer the next call and the next one after that, Scott said it’s the gratitude he hears from patients and encouragement from his supervisors. That and the simple reward of helping someone at a difficult time in their life. “There are times when I have received the initial call and the patient was delighted with the service, so they use me as a point-of-contact for all of their inquiries,” said Scott. “There are even patients who keep us posted regarding their condition and let us know what’s to come.”
Whether the call comes in at two in the afternoon or two in the morning, Karmanos’ staff information specialists and Patient Concierge coordinators are always there to answer the call. They are proof that ‘better’ begins with the very first conversation.