Improving Your Collections Success by Enhancing the Customer Experience

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February 22, 2017 by Mark Hammerstrom

I hope it is no surprise that the experience your patients/customers/clients have with your organization can significantly impact your bottom line.

The cost of dissatisfied consumers is very high.  In highly competitive business environments it does not take much to spread the word about even a single service snafu.  That impacts both new business and return business.  I don’t care what industry you are in, poor service perceptions negatively impact growth, and also can increase bad debt.

Our business is the collection of debts, and we have been successfully collecting them for our clients for more than 65 years.   One thing we have learned is that quality of service is often linked to the amount and quality of bad debt we receive from our clients.  Right or wrong, poor service often provides a natural incentive to delay payment.

Although this blog will focus on efforts in the medical community to improve the service experience, doing a few simple things better can often yield big results for any industry.

Focusing on just a few key areas can help improve processes, increase patient/customer satisfaction, improve payment receipt times and reduce bad debt.  In addition, if the debt needs to be turned over to a collection agency like UCS, the debt collection process itself becomes more streamlined and efficient improving results and getting payment faster.

In the February 7th edition of “Collector” magazine, editor Anne Rosso May writes about some of these seemingly simple things providers can do to improve their processes and create a more integrated and effective relationship with their patients, internal stakeholders and third party agencies.

  • Take a holistic view of the process: May points out that “In the years since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services started tying hospitals’ reimbursements to their patient experience scores, healthcare providers have become well aware of the financial incentives that come from happy patients.”  May encourages a ‘holistic’ view of business practices “…to make sure every aspect of a patient’s experience, from the initial intake to the bill in the mailbox, is friendly, easy to understand and compassionate.”

 

  • Clarify your written communications: Review all of the communications sent to your patients/customers to ensure they are well written and the content easy to understand.  Perhaps most importantly this includes the bill. She cites a “…recent survey from Mad*Pow, a design agency, [which] found that a whopping 62 percent of patients found their medical bills confusing.”  Confusion about the bill, and the cost of increased call volume to call centers, directly impacts the bottom line.  Avoid the use of overly technical terms, overly detailed billing codes, the use of fine print or other confusing content.  Consider formal or informal ‘focus groups’ of patients/clients to review content and optimize the layout to encourage ease of understanding and prompt payment.

 

  • Fine tune all verbal communications: Review how verbal communications are being delivered by customer contact personnel, including third party collection agencies. Partner with them to ensure that consistency of message and delivery is maintained. UCS encourages a ‘compassionate’ approach to collections and we find that the human touch can pay dividends when working with otherwise difficult debt situations.

 

  • Simplify the payment process: Not all payment channels work for every provider but do you offer the ones that consumers come to expect?  Not just pay by phone, but also web pay, mobile pay and other similar payment channels?  The idea, of course, is to make paying as easy as possible and to break down barriers that discourage timely payment.

 

  • Embrace the changes: Consumers do have many choices when they look for service providers, whether in the medical field or elsewhere.  “By paying attention to patient [consumer] behavior, both how people spend their money and how they communicate with your staff, you can create an environment that takes a difficult situation—an injured child, an ailing mother, a car accident—and turns it into an opportunity to connect with and help people.”

 

We strongly believe that creating a strong and mutually supportive relationship between all parties creates a more efficient and effective process of consumer interaction and debt collection.  We are here to help!  Ask us how.

Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service, licensed revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at http://www.unitedcreditservice.com, call 877-723-2902, or check out our YouTube video.

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