call center
Judith Allen, a Winn Army Community Hospital call center agent, and Jerry Keeney, Winn Army Community Hospital call center supervisor, review a log of incoming calls to the center.

FORT STEWART, Ga. - Winn Army Community Hospital has taken the phone wait time for medical appointments down to two minutes or less.

This is due in part to the call center agents, which have increased from 8 to 23. More agents ... more lines.

"The call center is ready to take calls beginning at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays and has recently extended hours to include evenings and Sundays," says Jerry Keeney, call center supervisor at Winn.

The Winn Call Center is now open 6:30 a.m. - 6 p.m., Monday thru Thursday; 6:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., Friday; and noon - 4 p.m., Sunday.

There was a huge need in this community. Prior to this, phone waits averaged over 4 minutes. Call times were a frequent complaint in patient responses to service, in addition to there not being appointments available when they did reach someone.

To resolve these two complaints, Keeney has worked with the hospital staff to open up appointments for availability, along with having more agents on line.

Customer service has become an integral focus of the staff in the call center. Keeney said the agents have attended classes on the issue, whereby when callers are serviced, they are even afforded the opportunity to select appointment times convenient for them.

The call center is always looking for better ways to service the community, said Keeney.

One way they have made improvements is in the Pediatric Clinic. In 2009, in particular, there was a no show rate of nine percent. Jamie Allen, medical support assistant in the call center, took the initiative to begin making reminder calls to parents about pending pediatric appointments.
"Now the percentage is at six percent," said Keeney. "Parents are pleased with it because they are getting that personal attention."

Allen added, "Parents may forget to update their demographic information. I can go in and update the child information for them while I have them on the line."

Keeney also mentioned how appointments can now be made through TRICARE online. "Patients have access to the same appointments as the agents here at the call center. Patients can even call in on weekends now to get appointments."

"And when it comes to refills, patients can now have those booked out as far as four weeks in advance of the prescription expiration," said Allen.

Keeney continued,"We know what it is like to deploy or to be a single parent left behind to take care of the Family. It's because the staff in the call center are themselves, veterans, retirees, spouses, Family Members and civilians. One hundred percent have been affiliated with the military in some manner."

Though new to Winn, the call center concept is not unique to the Army.

"Before the call center was centralized, a person may have had to call each individual clinic to get an appointment, which may have meant calling three to four clinics for Family appointments," said Keeney.

The call center has led the way in customer satisfaction, steadily increasing over the past year.

The call center can hit a peak mark handling over 1,800 calls in a single day.

Keeney speaks highly of the staff manning the call center. "We have a great group of people here. Our customer satisfaction numbers continually rise."

Keeney continued, "Being a call center agent is a hard job. Running two shifts, staff report in at 6 a.m., ready to take their first calls at 6:30 a.m. Monday-Friday. Our peak times are 6:30 to 9:00 a.m., noon to 1:30 p.m., and 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.

When asked which day was the busiest, Keeney responded: Monday or the first day of the week, especially after a long weekend.

Though there is no phone triage service available through the call center, if you have an actual emergency, it is still best to call 9-1-1.

There are times when a patient can be insistent upon getting a same day appointment. "We do take patients point of view if they say they need an appointment for the same day and do the best we can to get it for them," said Keeney.

"Our goal is to get you to your assigned physician," Keeney continued. If we cannot get you to your physician, then it will be someone on your provider's team."

When a patient sees their provider consistently, he or she knows what your concerns are.
Keeney said that providers know their patients. "It's up to us in the call center to get them together."

"We want to provide you with the best customer service, while taking care of the Soldiers and their Families who are sacrificing so much for us," concluded Keeney.

Page last updated Wed February 2nd, 2011 at 18:07