How to Improve Patient Satisfaction in Your Healthcare Call Center

Think Like a Caller and Not a Call Center Manager

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

In healthcare we talk about the needs of patients, and in call centers we talk about the needs of callers, that is patients who call on the phone. Yet both needs are challenging to fully attend to when we’re deep in the daily details of our work, be it as a healthcare practitioner or as a call center agent. Even so, you must seek to improve patient satisfaction.

As a call center manager in the healthcare arena, I urge you to remove your manager hat and adopt a patient perspective of someone about to call with a question, problem, or complaint. It will take time you may feel you don’t have but make time to do so. Encourage your agents to do the same thing.

From my perspective—with my patient hat on—here are the things I’d expect. Doing these will go a long way to improve patient satisfaction.

Be Nice

Call center agents are there to serve callers. The focus is service. Therefore, serve with a smile. Callers will hear a smile. Though it might be the fiftieth call for the agent, it’s likely the first call for the patient. So be nice to them. They deserve it.

Seek a balance of being professional and being personable. Too professional comes across as distant, cold, and uncaring. Too personable comes across as sloppy, nonchalant, and unskilled. Real professionalism implies competence, while true personality inspires approachability. Smartly combining them will improve patient satisfaction.

Respect Their Time

Patients want a quick resolution to their call. They’ll say they want you to answer quickly, not transfer them, or put them on hold. That is, don’t waste their time.

Though you can’t answer every call on the first ring—nor should you—strive to find that right balance between optimum call center efficiency and ideal caller responsiveness. Their wait time should be minimal.

If they’re in queue, let them know the projected wait time. Offer them the courtesy of a call back. Then make sure you do it.

But don’t be in a rush either. Speed creates errors, which produces return calls and generates more work—and needless activity. Take the time needed to do it right the first time. In doing so you’ll improve patient satisfaction.

Offer Correct Answers They Can Trust

Mostly, patients want to receive the right answer when they call. By the time they say their “goodbye,” they should have confidence they received the correct answer.

There are two elements here: the correct answer and a feeling of confidence.

Some agents give the right answer but fail to instill confidence in the caller. The patient doubts the information they received, even though it was correct. They’ll likely call again to voice the same concern.

Other agents give the wrong answer but do so with such confidence that the caller doesn’t realize they were duped until much later. The patient has already given a glowing response on your customer satisfaction survey but wishes they could take it back.

A few agents give the wrong answer, and the caller knows it. This is a total failure.

The goal is to give the right answer and leave the caller feeling confident in the response. This is a win for everyone. The agent appropriately serves the caller. The patient doesn’t need to make a follow-up call. The call center thereby saves time by avoiding unnecessary rework. And the patient saves their time too. It’s a patient satisfaction win.


To improve patient satisfaction, follow this basic three-step process: be nice, respect their time, and offer correct answers they can trust.

It’s that simple. Now go do it.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is the founder of AnswerStat. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time. Read more in his book, Healthcare Call Center Essentials.