In the upcoming Bio/Pharma Contact Centers conference, there are a lot of topics that speak to the latest aspects of Bio/Pharma and call centers. One item that is missing from the agenda, however, is the tricky process of agent script development in the Direct to Consumer environment. As the bio/pharma regulatory landscape continues to shift, one thing remains certain: Creating agent language that meets regulatory requirements while at the same time is both patient friendly, and call center agent friendly can be a delicate balancing act. Below are some tips to ensure that by the time the agent script gets approved by your regulatory committee, it’s 100% ready to go.
Budget your Time in Advance
Much of the process that drives a CRM program often depends on the agent script. From providing correct (and approved) product information, to collecting patient information, to driving CRM functionality in the “back end,” and finally to providing a great caller experience, the call center script serves a variety of functions, each of which requires it’s own testing and vetting. Getting started on the call center aspect of your program (which hinges on the agent script) well in advance can ensure you haven’t launched before all your systems have been checked, and are confirmed ready to go.
Create a Detailed Call Flow
Using Visio or some other flowchart creation tool, create a call flow that is a visual representation of your script. Creating a detailed call flow has the proactive benefit of fostering messaging alignment across all parties before investing the time to actually write the agent verbatim script, get it approved by regulatory, and begin implementation. This can save both time and money, as well as avoid the embarrassment of having to return to your regulatory committee with a “new” script, because a detail in branching, or wording, had been overlooked.
Involve Your Agents in the Script Development Process
When it comes to speaking with patients and caregivers using verbatim scripts, your agents are your subject matter experts. In my experience, agents tend to be the best editors when it comes to eliminating “pharma speak,” and can also identify gaps in information. Questions like, “But what about when the patient asks for….” are ones you want to have solved BEFORE you take your script to regulatory for approval.
Invest in Adequate Training
In addition to providing product information, give your agents enough time to practice the script. If they sound like they’re reading and are stumbling over words, this will certainly have a detrimental impact on your patient/caregiver experience. The more prepared your agents are before they speak to actual prospects/patients, the easier it is for them to create a positive first impression with your prospect/patient by building trust. The difference between a positive patient first impression, and a negative one, is often the level of training the agent has received.
Listen to Calls
Once your program is live, take the time to listen to as many calls as you can, as soon as you can. Understanding how patients are reacting to your script is vital for you to make the necessary changes to your program so that you can deliver an optimal patient/caregiver experience. Your patients may have needs that aren’t being met when they call, and the only way for you to really understand this is by listening.
While the above points certainly don’t represent an exhaustive list of “to do’s” when preparing a Direct to Consumer Bio/Pharma call center program, following them will help you mitigate the risks of unnecessary surprises. The list of what can go wrong is extensive: The program has begun but the data transfer is inaccurate (causing communication to go to the wrong people), the program is live, but script has not yet been approved by regulatory, or the agents are unfamiliar with the wording and deliver a poor caller experience. Any of these possibilities can mean the end of a program. Following the tips above will help you avoid them.
About Pat Perdue and Socialicity
In addition to working in social media, Socialicity has launched many bio/pharma call center programs in a wide variety of categories including oncology, rheumatology, and medical devices. For more information, email Pat Perdue at pat@Socialicity.ca, or reach him by Twitter @Socialicity_Pat