Over the past decade, hospitals around the country have elevated the level of sophistication of their marketing call center operations. One-person offices of yesterday that relied on telephones and Rolodex cards for physician referrals have turned into high-level data centers, capable of handling a myriad of caller needs and requests. More and more forward-thinking hospital leaders have recognized the vast potential of such operations, and of the vitally important role a well-designed and intelligently directed call center can play in their institutions.

Today's call centers have a new look as they enter a new world. This world leverages the wizardry of new technology in ways that drive business, cement relationships and measure response. When properly integrated and managed, these technologies continue to support the trend of hospital executives looking at their call centers less as cost centers and more as profit centers.

As a result, today's call centers handle functions beyond answering phones, making physician referrals or even registering callers for hospital-sponsored workshops, screenings and seminars, although all of this is still a core part of what they rightfully do. They are truly sophisticated enterprises--in many cases fully equipped customer interaction centers--which, when properly managed and valued, can pay big dividends by serving as the nucleus for ongoing communication and customer-relationship building.


Building Customer Interaction Centers

One of the new "looks" of hospital call centers is found in their ability to seamlessly integrate the telephone with the sponsoring hospital's Web site to give consumers multiple channels and options through which to communicate. In an era of high consumer expectation and personalization, such integration allows consumers to "speak" with the hospital through whatever channel they feel most comfortable, and to do so any time of the day or night from their homes or offices. Just as today's consumers want choice in everything they purchase, they now have choice in how they communicate.

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