Non-clinical employees are often both the first and last touchpoint of a patient’s experience, making them an important factor. Now, during a health crisis and a recession, it is even more vital that revenue cycle employees have positive attitudes and strong customer service skills to diffuse stress and provide a positive experience.
Below, we discuss how to screen for positive attitude while bringing on new revenue cycle employees.
GAUGE THEIR EMOTIONAL RESILIENCE
Especially today, with COVID-19 concerns and many people’s jobs and benefits impacted by the recession, there will likely be more stressful conversations and questions from patients. Often, patients will be on the phone with revenue cycle employees if something went wrong, and the ability to listen for the problem and solve it while displaying empathy is key. Employees must be able to remain calm with all types of people and circumstances, maintaining professionalism even when faced with upset callers or having to deliver difficult news. A strong candidate should not only be a “people person” but also should display a high level of emotional resilience and level-headedness.
It is important to understand how a candidate reacts to high-emotion conversations. Many candidates will say they are skilled in customer service but after handling six irate callers in a row, attitudes can shift. Ensure that new hires can maintain composure and avoid taking callers’ frustrations personally by asking them how they manage their stress levels and remain grounded during an especially challenging day. Strong candidates will give examples of how they bounce back from difficult calls to deliver a positive patient experience.
GIVE THEM A TRIAL-RUN
If revenue cycle employees will be handling calls, hiring managers should pay close attention to how the candidate’s attitude comes across over the phone. Have a candidate role-play a scenario they may encounter. If interviewing in person or over video call, consider still role playing these scenarios over the phone and turning off video to observe how the candidate’s voice comes across without body language.
Call in as an angry patient and see how the candidate responds. How does their tone and inflection sound over the phone? Are they helpful and nice, or do they sound defensive and upset? Consider giving candidates a scenario in which they must deliver news the patient does not want to hear and evaluate the way they present this information.
LOOK FOR RED FLAGS
When screening for attitude in an interview, it is important to assess how the candidate responds to difficult questions in addition to their answer. For example, ask “What would your manager say about you?” If they speak negatively about their manager or seem bitter, it may be a red flag that the candidate may have a bad attitude or may not have the best judgement to speak negatively about their former employer.
Consider other questions such as “How would you deal with an angry patient who has been incorrectly billed?” or “What was the biggest challenge you overcame in your prior role?” Skilled communicators can answer these questions positively and calmly, showing enthusiasm for the role and the challenges it presents.
ASSESS NON-VERBAL CUES
Is the candidate an active listener? Are they being attentive and showing interest in what you’re saying, or are they thinking about their next response or question? This is crucial because customers can sense this over the phone. Especially with sensitive conversations related to health, actively listening to the patient’s questions is important to providing correct and detailed information. If a patient feels misunderstood or dismissed, it can completely alter their perception.
GO BEYOND THE THEORETICAL
The best way to predict a candidate’s future behavior is to ask how they have handled situations in the past. Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Result) method to ask questions that uncover how a candidate has responded to different work scenarios. As opposed to answering theoretically how they would approach a challenge or an upset patient, asking for concrete examples of how they have been able to handle stressful situations in the past will be more telling.
For example, if you want to understand how a candidate approaches problem-solving, you might say, “Tell me about a time you had to solve a problem on your own in order to help a patient resolve a billing issue” or “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an angry patient. How were you able to resolve their problem?” Listen for the candidate to respond with a specific situation where this happened, what they were tasked with, the steps they took to resolve it and the end result.
Revenue cycle employees play a large part in maintaining a positive impression of your brand and quality care for your patients. Once appropriate experience and certifications are covered, give special attention to attitude to ensure your employees are serving patients well, retaining clientele and turning them into loyal brand advocates.
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