- By Andrew Broderick
- March 18, 2022
The role of customer operations, which refers to the service and back-office business activities that organizations rely on to fulfil customer experiences (CX), are key building blocks in healthcare organizations’ capacity to efficiently and cost-effectively deliver on patient experience (PX). Healthcare organizations that achieve best-in-class performance in customer operations have been shown to achieve superior results that position the role of customer operations as a key area of differentiation in organizational efforts to transform PX.
A 2021 survey of healthcare and life science organizations found that those with best-in-class customer operations programs experience greater year-over-year growth in productivity (6.1x) and higher patient satisfaction (23.6x) than other organizations. Practices that optimize their performance, as well as the business and technology strategies they can use to augment customer operations to drive long-term performance improvements, include their ability to:
- Leverage regular audits to gauge and address process inefficiencies
- Enable quality assurance across all services and activities for regulatory compliance
- Design and implement workflows to route the right activity to the right employee
- Allow for real-time customer service operations activity results
- Monitor digital services to identify and address potential issues
With brand and consumer loyalty increasingly important as drivers of profitability for healthcare organizations, top performing best-in-class organizations have the edge over their peers. In a sample of 178 healthcare organizations, the top 20% performing organizations achieved a 23-fold greater annual increase in customer satisfaction rates (41.8% versus 1.7%). This performance outcome translates into top performers reporting a 39% greater retention rate of their customers (78% versus 56%) compared with other organizations. The ability of these organizations to efficiently manage back-office activities to meet and exceed patient needs may explain their superior performance on customer retention. Top-performing organizations also reported employee productivity increasing six-fold year-over-year (40.5% versus 5.7%), which may account for top performers reporting a 23-fold increase in first-time resolution rates when other organizations reported no real change (26.4% versus 1.1%).
Best-in-class organizations also reported higher rates of adoption for certain business activities and technologies that may help explain their superior performance on customer operations. Key among them were the greater role for regular audits to identify and address process efficiencies (83% versus 60%), and conducting quality assurance across end-to-end service and back-office activities (83% versus 57%). Audits covered patient data and information systems for administrative and billing purposes, as well as for care and quality to identify preventative care programs that at-risk patient populations may benefit from being referred to.
Quality assurance allows organizations to monitor and report on organizational compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulatory standards. Another area of operational excellence among the top-performing organizations was workflow management with artificial intelligence and other advanced analytics capabilities to realize long-term performance improvements.
Best-in-class organizations are more likely to view customer service operations in real-time (69% versus 54%), as well as monitor digital services to proactively respond to potential patient needs (67% versus 54%). This requires organizations maintain a connected view of patient and operational data, leverage platforms that unify systems end-to-end, and offer advanced analytics and reporting for as near real-time as possible data flow, access, and decision support.
But affecting the large-scale change that achieving best-in-class performance status requires also involves redesigning workflow and reengineering organizational cultures to allow data to flow more freely across departments, systems and teams, and without placing undue burdens on the workforce. Doing so effectively will set the foundation for future success and provide organizations with a leading edge over peers through operational excellence and patient trust.
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