Join us to find out more about the client care department of My Clinic! In today’s instalment, we’re paying a visit to the client helpline specialists; next time, you may look forward to a closer look at the reception desk.
The first contact often makes all the difference – a stark truth that is well known to the client helpline specialists of My Clinic, who are usually the first port of call for those enquiring about the clinic’s services. The team has decisive influence on the kind of impression which clients gain with respect to the quality of service – even before they set foot in the doctor’s office.
The job description of the helpline specialists is to receive incoming requests and enquiries via e-mail or over the phone. On the days with the heaviest workload (i.e., usually, on Mondays), they handle up to 400 calls a day. The number of e-mails accumulating over the weekend is in the same ballpark. “Each conversation usually begins with a bit of story-telling,” notes client care manager Markéta Veselá who has been with My Clinic from its earliest days of operation. “The client describes the health complaints they’ve been having, and seek our counsel and advice. This specific fact is a great advantage of My Clinic: We have the time to properly listen to every caller, and we give them sufficient attention. We try to carefully choose the proper specialist practice, and in so doing accommodate individual needs and preferences. We often consult with the nurses or, if need be, the physicians, in order to make sure clients get top quality care that best fits their needs – and their schedule.” This is in fact one of the moments which define the quality of service at My Clinic. The helpline specialists themselves emphasize that this is also something which puts miles of difference between their work and the job duties at ordinary call centres.
Consulting a physician over the phone is another feature of My Clinic that is greatly appreciated by clients, and in particular by the mothers of child patients: often, all they need is some calm reassurance, and competent advice whether they should immediately take their child to see the doctor in person or whether they may sit it out and find a domestic fix for the ailments of their offspring. “Mothers in particular often need to be reassured, and are immensely grateful to get confirmation from the doctor that they took the right course of action, or to receive guidance as to the homespun treatment of their little patients,” adds Markéta. The parents of small children are in fact those who most frequently give praise and thanks while still on the helpline – they know from personal experience what relief it is to be able to quickly dispel one’s concerns over the wellbeing of children.
At the client helpline of My Clinic, working hours begin at 7:30 a.m. each working day; consultants can be reached until 6 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, and until 4:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. They work in shifts – some of them come in a little later to cover the late afternoons. “We regularly register an increased volume of contacts on Mondays, given that it’s just after the weekend. That’s when we need two consultants who work the same shift,” describes Markéta Veselá. “But that’s really the only regularity in terms of the workload. You can hardly predict what day will be particularly taxing. It comes in waves, really,” nod the consultants in agreement.
Markéta is a great example of the right person in the right place. It is palpable how satisfied and energized she is by her work. “It is important for me to help people and find a way to resolve each and every enquiry brought before us by the clients. I’ve been in client care for a number of years now,” describes Markéta her outlook, and adds for emphasis: “We strive to always hear the client out before we work with them to find a solution for their concern or an answer to their question. In this, we greatly rely on teamwork. Medical director Dr. Tereza Petrásková, who also acts as the clinic’s chief of psychiatry and psychology physician, is of great support to us, and so are the other colleagues.” The client care team at My Clinic regularly receives special training to help them prepare for all sorts of situations; at these training sessions, the consultants bring their communication skills to perfection. A chief source of information is the clinic’s intranet and knowledge bank, which everyone keeps at hand at essentially all times. “In the course of our work, we sometimes encounter difficult patients, nor is it unheard-of that clients with mental health issues turn to the clinic who require the professional care of specialists. We’ve got a protocol in place for such situations, with lines in the sand that we won’t cross. You need to be able to tell whether the conversation you’re having should be put in the hands of a medical professional,” says Markéta, describing her experiences. “As a general rule, clients are stingy with praise. But when the caller thanks you during the call, when they let us know they found us pleasant to talk to and appreciate our advice, that’s the biggest reward,” chime in Markéta’s helpline colleagues.
“We also work with evaluations. Recently we’ve begun to run satisfaction surveys at the clinic which provide valuable feedback. Our goal is to continuously work on self-improvement,” explains Markéta. “We often invite physicians to sit down for a chat with us so we can gather information that is important for our work. Of course, we have a manual for each specialization, but nothing beats clarifying certain points face-to-face. We realize that physicians sometimes may feel our demands are unrealistic, or our questions come out of left field – but that’s because we defend the clients’ interests and try to accommodate them. Our questions are always rooted in the needs of the clients, who come front and centre for us.”
“Aside from seeking guidance which particular specialist people should see, questions about the scope of services offered by the clinic are rather common,” summarizes Markéta. “Clients want to know what sets us apart from others, which services are for self-payers, what are the options. We explain to them what’s included in our various care programs. As the clinic gradually adds specialized patient plans to its portfolio, we need to stay abreast of all the new information in order to be able to find the best solution for each client. One option I’d definitely say is particularly appreciated and often used by clients, as it helps them in their decision-making process, is to have a noncommittal consultation with a physician before settling on any particular care plan.”
“Empathy, the ability to listen, kindness and warmth are among the most important qualifications. You can actually tell over the phone whether the other person has a smile on their face,” stresses Markéta. “Also, everyone working in client care needs to have perfect English skills, because more than half of our clients are foreign language speakers.” How long does it take for newcomers to become a full-value team member? “It depends on their prior experience. If he or she has worked in a medical environment, that’s a huge plus. Sometimes it takes a week or two before a new colleague takes her first call on the helpline, but if they have done this before in a professional setting, they may handle their first conversation with a client on their third day on the job. What you encounter in this line of work really is a masterclass in communication – and a lifelong learning opportunity.”
Markéta Veselá loves to unwind with her family; an avid nature lover, she enjoys walks in the forest where she often takes her son and daughter on excursions.