With the Obamacare Web site (www.healthcare.gov) crash this week and people running around Washington and beyond trying to pass blame, government customer service agents are caught in the crossfire. Their task now becomes that much more challenging.
“Technical issues notwithstanding, it’s vital to recognize that these customer service reps are also tasked with an important public relations mission: They are the first touch point that consumers are having with Obamacare, and it’s their job to alleviate frustration and educate consumers on what admittedly encompasses big changes,” advises James Norwood, chief marketing officer at Kana Software, which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif.
The company offered the following tips to beleaguered Obamacare call center reps:
- Record content/context of issue so it’s captured for historical reference and future actions.
- Proceed with empathy and the understanding that seeking medical coverage for family members can be daunting even under the best of circumstances.
- Establish a knowledge base; be able to clearly explain options and educate callers.
- Make every attempt to resolve the issue on the first call. Don’t force customers to transverse agents/channels, which can be frustrating and daunting.
- If you cannot resolve then and there, provide a path of resolution for the customer by explaining next steps and actions required.
- Ensure proper follow-up and case closure.
Kana Software provides the customer service technology at work at more than 250 government agencies. “We’ve had a long association with local governments,” noted Norwood, “and in helping them re-invent their customer service efforts to serve citizens better.”
And, just as an aside, during some rancorous hearings on the Web site crash in Washington on Thursday, Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was not present. She was visiting an Obamacare call center in Phoenix at the time.