Operational Guide to a High Volume Addiction Treatment Call Center - Circle Social Inc

Operational Guide to a High Volume Addiction Treatment Call Center

The number 1 thing we get asked by potential clients when we first start talking about drug rehab marketing is, “Can you make the phone ring?”

We definitely can. 250 calls a month or 2,000 calls a month, we can deliver the volume and at a below average cost, usually $30-$40 per qualified call. But, what we’ve found is that most centers can’t actually handle the volume once it starts coming in.

Can Your Center Even Handle 1,000 Calls or More a Month?

Think about it. Let’s say you’re taking 1,000 calls a month. That’s 33 calls a day. If the average calls take 10 minutes of time, maybe including entering into your CRM and tracking sheets or whatnot, that’s 5.5 hours a day on the phone.

Now, if you’ve only got 1 admissions coordinator, there is no way they can handle that, because, of course, the inquiries don’t respectfully wait for you to finish the previous call before coming in. They might come in groups of 5 or even 10 in a row in very short order.

And the real kicker is that you’ve only got 5-10 minutes to call an inquiry back. Most inquiries come in through online form fills. It’s much rarer that they will call directly. So you’ve got to have enough staff to be monitoring the inbox vigilantly and having someone jump on those calls right away.

Otherwise, you lose any hope of connecting with that individual. It’s just the name of the game. People have to be in the right mindset to call and seek help for themselves or, more often, their loved one. And that window is extremely short.

Most centers not operating at a high level of efficiencies with their admissions also have admissions staff assigned a large number of other tasks. They’re just not used to the phone ringing all the time. So now they need to figure out a way to get all their previous work done on top of handling the calls.

3 Simple Steps to Be Operationally Prepared to Handle High Call Volumes

So here’s what you need:

  1. Dedicated call center staff. These staff should be assigned nothing but answering and following up on inquiries. Once call volume really increases, you need several people in this role at the same time because, as we mentioned, multiple calls will come in at the same time and you need to get back to all of them in 5-10 minutes.
  2. An inquiry follow-up system. If you have 4 admissions staff and an inquiry comes in, who takes it? The best way we’ve found to do this is a group text as not all admissions staff may be in the same room at the same time. When the inquiry comes in, staff reply into a group text stating that they’ll take the call. The first person in the chain to reply takes the call. It’s simple and it works.Also, make sure that the person taking the call then reports back to the group so everyone is aware of what happened. You never know if someone else will end up handling the follow-up call or get that person when they come in, so it’s important everyone is in the loop.The same person that took the call should also then add any information to the tracking system or CRM.VERY IMPORTANT: All CRM, tracking, and group texting must still meet HIPAA compliance regulations, which means NO medical information can be transmitted or stored regarding inquiries. Only contact information can be stored and communicated by text or email.If you really want to track other information, like maybe drug of choice, then you need to set up a code system where each drug is given a code name and that’s used to discuss the potential patient. Otherwise, all PHI tied to medical information should be discussed on the phone or entered into the HIPAA compliant EMR.
  3. A CRM, which we’ll discuss below.

Many Centers Bleed Out Inquiries Due to Poor Follow-up

Now, as we all know, a single phone conversion is not always going to be a deal closer. Especially for parents or significant others who have been enabling for years, they may not be ready to take the next step. Or they feel they’ve been burned by other rehabs in the past that didn’t work, but still cost them more than a pretty penny.

So systematic inquiry follow-up is essential to the success of any admissions operation.

Now, going back to our 1,000 calls a month. That’s not counting all the other calls coming in from other sources ON TOP OF the inquiry follow-up. Maybe you’re following up in 24 hours then 72 then 1 week and so on.

Let’s say that you only need to follow-up on 50% of inquiries. Maybe some weren’t a good fit, didn’t have the right insurance, etc. Well, at 33 calls a day, that’s still another 15 calls/follow-ups that need to be made the next day. So right there you’re at 47 calls instead of 33. See how this gets challenging?

We’ve been in centers that are still, God forbid, using Excel or Google Sheets to track and follow-up on inquiries. Good luck with that!

To become a center that handles high call volume, you have to have an automated tracking and follow-up process. That means a CRM (Customer Relationship Management Software).

If you’re not familiar, the most well-known is probably Saleforce. It’s a system that allows you to put in names and contact information and has all kinds of bonus functionality like automated email follow-ups, automated task reminders and notifications, automated SMS messaging, and even landing page build software.

And the best part is that your web developer can integrate your CRM with your website. So if someone fills out a form on your website, all the information is automatically integrated into your CRM, which may then automatically trigger and email sequence. All of this without a staff member having to lift a finger.

For CRMs, we strongly recommend Active Campaign on the economically priced side. Zoho is also a good, reasonably priced option. If you really want a slick CRM with all the bells and whistles, we recommend Hubspot. It’s pricy, but you can’t beat its functionality and ease of use. Again, just a reminder that these are not HIPAA compliant systems for data storage or communication, so no PHI tied to medical information. Contact information alone can be stored in these systems.

Here are some tips on inquiry follow-up:

  1. Have an automated email going out to new inquiries at the 24, 72, and 1 week window. Then add them to the monthly newsletter after that. This should also be how often you follow-up with a call.
  2. Ensure your CRM has a segmentation system built in that, once someone moves from inquiry to admit, auto-follow-ups are automatically turned of. All the CRMs we mentioned above have the ability to set triggers like, “sent reply email,” which then removes them from the automation.
  3. Set automatic notifications for follow-ups These can be set to either pop-up on a staff members desktop or as an email notification.
  4. Automate as much as possible. Today’s CRMs are fantastic in what they let you automate. The more basic routine tasks that can be automated, the better. However, note that there is not substitute for human contact when moving potential patients through the decision-making process. You can’t be dependent on automation to generate admits for you. You’ll always need a human touch at some point.

How much should you pay for a call?

Well, that all depends on the referral source of course. When you build strong relationships with related professions such as general physicians or therapists, you can get referral calls from them for about $5-$10. It takes a lot of time and money to build the relationship on the front-end, but generally not too much to maintain afterwards.

If you’re still trying to use Adwords after the repeated shutdowns and restrictions, you’re going to pay anywhere from $50 to several hundred per call depending on how good you are at running PPC campaigns. With the hyper level of competition in the field today, these costs can get very high very quickly.

TV and radio is generally around $30-$45, but, as most centers buy this volume from a mass media buyer rather than running the ad themselves, quality is incredibly poor. Most mass media buyers dilute call quality by throwing in autodialed calls. Since TV can only generate so many calls at a time, media buyers will give a high volume of calls the initial month, but then switch over to 30-40% of calls actually being outbound autodials rather than people actually inquiring about treatment. Unfortunately, it can be a bit of a scam. Centers are lucky to close 1 in 100 of these calls and these kind of call buys are starting to become illegal in some states where there is a move to ensure any treatment center ad is branded by the center looking for the inquiries.

Facebook, at least in the way we use it here at Circle Social, can generate qualified calls for between $30-$40. These also tend to be much higher quality inquiries because, unlike Adwords or passive media spots, you can systematically build trust and a reputation through Facebook’s amazing retargeting capabilities. Most centers, depending on insurances they take, will see intakes in about 1 in 80 calls with Facebook at initial inquiry, and then several more following down the line through subsequent follow-up.

Got more questions on how to either generate or handle a high volume of calls? Get in touch using the form below.

Contact Us to Get Started

Fields marked with an * are required

About the Author

Nick Jaworski is the Chief Growth Officer of Circle Social Inc. Seeing a real need for innovative, ethical recovery center marketing and growth, he launched Circle Social to help the best addiction treatment centers connect with people who needed their help the most. He is also the proud father of the most beautiful girl in the world. You can most often find him sharing thoughts on digital marketing and cracking jokes on Twitter or Snapchat as @NBJaworski.