personal alarm systems to the elderly and infirm. Customers are principally
those people who live alone, preferring to stay in their own homes rather than
be looked after in some form of institutional care or with family. The customer
has a small transmitter/receiver, which can be worn as a pendant or on the
wrist like a watch. If the customer has a problem they press the button on the
pendant, which activates a base station located at the customer’s telephone.
The base station calls Medi-Call’s contact centre, which provides 24/7 cover to
ensure maximum reassurance for its customers. Medi-Call’s agent will attempt to
establish contact with the customer. Because the transmitter is so sensitive,
it is possible to carry out a conversation up to 50 metres away from the base
station. Medi-Call’s staff are trained
to provide immediate reassurance to the caller, who is likely to be confused
and frightened. Each customer provides immediate reassurance to the caller, who
is likely to be confused and frightened. Each customer provides a number of
contact numbers, including neighbours and immediate family. If there is a
problem, as for example an elderly person having fallen and not being able to
get up, the normal procedure is for Medi-Call to alert the closest neighbours,
asking them to visit and call back. If required, Medi-Call will alert emergency
services and also contact family members if appropriate. The call centre deals
with a wide range of demands:
Emergency calls : These result in Medi-Call
agents being on the phone for an average of 30 minutes. This time may be spread
over a number of calls to the customer, neighbors, family and so on. Each
emergency call requires an average of 8 minutes’ administration time to ensure
records are kept up to date-this is normally completed immediately after the
call is completed and definitely before the agent completes their shift.
enquiries: These calls normally come from new customers, unsure about the
function of the equipment. The average
duration these calls is 5 minutes, with 1 minutes associated administration
calls: Medi-calls encourages customers to ring the call centre about once a
month to check that the equipment is working properly. Many elderly customer
spend long periods by themselves at home and see this an opportunity to have a
rather longer conversation than is strictly necessary. Medi-call considers this
as part of the service it provides. The average reassurance call lasts about 6
nutes, with 1 minute associated administration time.
estimates that its employees are effective for about 80 per cent of the time that
they are on shift and this forms the basis of its staff scheduling system. This
figure allow for short comfort breaks and also recognizes that not all staff
are fully competent. Medi-call provides thorough induction training and
continuing staff development, but annual turnover of staff is in the order of
20 per cent and it takes upwards of 6 months for staff to be fully trained.
The majority of
calls are handling by the member of staff who is the first point of contact. In
under 10 per cent of calls, the agent handling the call may ask for assistance
from a more experienced colleague or the supervisor.
- When does Medi-Call’s call centre enter the coping zone? What is the likely impact of this overload on customers and staff?
- What strategies do you recommend that Medi-Call adopts
in busy periods? What actions would you need to take to implement them
- Do you agree with Medi-Call’s philosophy on reassurance calls? What do you recommend?