Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for call center reps of accounts receivable departments to get baited by the people they’re calling. Patients will ask specific questions designed to get the rep to violate statutes or laws that govern the way hospitals and medical facilities can collect money.
And while it doesn’t happen often to departments focusing on good debt, it’s not unheard of. Lawyers focusing on consumer protection are often able to take these slip-ups and turn them around, meaning lost money for the medical provider. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid being baited while ensuring your revenue cycle gets closed on time.
It cannot be understated that any person contacting patients about their money owed should be well versed in all of the statutes and laws that they must adhere to. They have to know the ins and outs of their responsibilities to the patient, as well as to the medical provider. Proper training before the employee is ever allowed on the phone is a must, but call center reps should also go through regular training to make sure they’re completely up to date on all new regulations.
If a call center rep doesn’t know the answer to a question posed by the patient, they simply cannot make a guess. Even saying, “I think…” can lead to serious problems and potential lawsuits. The patient may push (or even insult) the rep, but unless they are 100% positive the answer they’re giving is correct, it’s best to simply say, “I don’t know. Let me find out for you.”
Beware of Unsolicited Calls
Many patients who attempt to bait call center reps don’t wait to be contacted—they reach out on their own. (They may even be sitting in a lawyer’s office.) If the patient calls and begins to ask questions (other than obviously making a payment or asking simple questions about the account) that seem complicated, it’s often a sign of baiting.
Aggressive Tone or Language
Patients who call to bait call center reps will often repeatedly ask the same question, and do so in increasingly impatient or aggressive ways. They may begin to use vulgar language, insults, or other generally escalating methods to get the rep flustered and cause them to slip up. Always remain calm and stay focused on the task at hand.
Questions from patients with ulterior motives may be asked in very confusing ways—another attempt to get the rep to misspeak. Never be afraid to ask clarifying questions, or even phrase their question in a clearer way to make sure you’re both on the same page. If they’re asking dangerous questions, like, “Can my wages be garnished?” or “What happens if I don’t pay?” make sure you understand what they’re asking before providing a clear answer.
Pass Them On or End the Call
In extreme situations, it’s perfectly fine to transfer the call to a manger, or in more serious situations, simply end the call. Call center reps cannot be expected to understand every letter of every law they’re working under, so in these particularly dire situations, someone with more experience should be responsible for wrapping up the call.
In the end, knowledge is key. Call center reps have to be well versed in their jobs and the responsibilities they have, and know how to mark a potential baiter—and avoid a potential lawsuit.