By Timothy Howlin, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Cadence Rx
“REP-RE-SENT -ATIVE,” I pronounce slowly – ok! No, I yell for the fourth time, and finally, my voice is recognized, connecting my call to a ‘person’ named Bill. His computer-generated voice on the other end indicates a 92-minute wait to speak with a representative – Yikes!
Although I was calling an airline in poor weather, I wonder if this is the “new norm” post-COVID? More importantly, where do service providers such as Ancillary, PBM, Diagnostics, and more in the Workers’ Compensation market stand in the shadow of the pandemic and the current staffing crises? When the balance of patient care is involved, service like this is unacceptable. This brings us to a vital component when choosing a vendor partner, understanding their approach and philosophy towards frontline service.
A partner should have a strategy that has taken shape through years of chiseling away common friction points and learning ways to maximize the customer experience. A quality vendor partner will demonstrate improvements and take advantage of the continuous progress of technology while staying grounded in what truly matters in customer service – the human-focused approach.
Choosing a vendor partner is an important decision as they become an extension of your company, not just a vendor. There are three pillars to selecting a best-in-class service model that drives exceptional experiences: strategy, execution, and culture. Choose wisely by focusing on these areas for a genuine demonstration of a company’s vision and approach regarding customer service for all participants.
A partner must employ what I refer to as a playbook demonstrating a patient-centric plan and how the injured employee remains the focus throughout the lifecycle of the claim. Additionally, what is the overarching service model that addresses not only the patient but the payor and providers as well? Finally, understanding a company’s mission and focus and deployment of resources towards service to all stakeholders is paramount.
Consider the questions:
- How does your potential partner prioritize a modernized system that improves the customer experience for the patient, adjuster, and providers?
- What does your potential partner do to create a quality human experience?
- What is the overall architecture for service support to the adjuster? How is the adjuster prioritized?
Placing customer service at the core of a company’s strategy needs to be presented and accompanied by historical analytics to support the functionality of these initiatives. Can this be conferred clearly?
Digging deep into the business partners’ implementation process is vital. The provider’s skillset in understanding customized program needs is paramount. Regardless of the product, what is the partner’s history with implementation, and what sets them apart in this process?
The cornerstone of outstanding customer service starts with a successful implementation that leans on the ability to work in a partnership with your vendor during the discovery stage. The parameters of the service program should be backed by concrete SLAs and KPIs that deliver a transparent model for all stakeholders.
It should not be a one size fits all as each book of business will require a unique customer service approach dependent on countless variables such as inbound call volumes, time zones, geography, industry types, after-hour model, etc. During the early stages, deployment of technology advancements that enhance the user experience can be executed to include easy access to data, an Integrated framework, Artificial intelligence that enable access to powerful data aggregation, live chat, 24-hour service, self-serve portals, addressing omnichannel access, patient alerts, texting, satisfaction surveys etc. Self-service is an expected part of the customer service solution, even in the human-focused approach that work together collaboratively.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This sentence, attributed to Peter Drucker in 2006 and made famous by the Chief Executive of Ford Motor Company, Mark Fields, still rings true today. When choosing a business partner that claims a customer service strategy to all stakeholders, it is imperative to also look at the dynamics of their culture. In most organizations, this is where the tire meets the road, and you, as the buyer, determine what type of mojo you are buying. It is essential to speak with current customers, previous buyers (both past and present), and obstacles the organization overcame. Explicitly asking, “How did they uphold or exceed their customer service levels?”
Research the investment in the staff that you will work with daily. Investing in the people that drive the organization is a true differentiator in building a program that drives improved outcomes.
You can find evidence of this investment in culture by inquiring about:
- Available frontline resources
- Internal coaching, and what does that look like today?
- How does your supplier’s platform support accountability?
- Empowerment in the entire ecosystem of frontline service?
- Competing for Social purpose
- The investment in your staff and the specific account management team that will support you.
- What does the overarching training process look like for a specified number of adjusters?
- Ask about specific training to your staff, and is this in person face-to-face or only accessed digitally?
So many vendor partners are great movers and shakers who continue provoking our industry to meet or exceed new challenges in customer service. The obvious benefit for all participants is an improved customer experience with a goal to improve patient care and outcomes. Selecting partners that disrupt the status quo, have a plan, and incorporate new technology forces improved service for all stakeholders with the patient at the forefront. The bar gets raised, and as a result, we see faster, quicker real-time access to health information, data, artificial intelligence, and improved analytics, ultimately enhancing service.
Follow these three pillars as a buyer’s guide when addressing accessible customer service to assist in building out a human-focused service model—best of luck.
I want to speak to a “REP-RE-SENT-ATIVE,” I hung up!
About Tim Howlin
Tim Howlin is the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Cadence Rx. He is responsible for leading the company’s sales and marketing vision, developing sales strategies to maximize market penetration, and navigating the company’s sales channels.
Prior to joining Cadence Rx, Tim served as the CSO for Orchid Medical and managed all sales objectives from development, forecasting, planning, and budgeting. Where he increased revenue and introduced patient-centric products. Tim has over 25 years of experience in the workers’ compensation industry which includes extensive sales and management expertise. His focus has been on sustained growth and the creation of medical cost containment products with a patient-centric approach.
Tim holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from Molloy College in Rockville Center, New York, and a Sales Growth Certificate from Cornell University. He also is President Emeritus of the New York Claims Association and currently sits on the Executive Board as Vice President. Tim also is a Board Director with The American Society of Workers Compensation (AMCOMP).
About Cadence Rx
Cadence Rx, a certified Woman-Owned Business Enterprise, is a nimble, service-focused workers’ compensation PBM leveraging over 100 years of expertise alongside a proprietary suite of next-generation technologies. Commitment to service is the driving force behind Cadence Rx’s innovation, resulting in cost savings for clients and improved outcomes for injured workers.
Visit cadencerx.com or follow @cadence_rx on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for more information.