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Strategizing for Customer Care with Kim MacTavish

Kim MacTavish, Senior Vice President of Customer Support at MEDHOST, leads her team through the tactical challenges of maintaining remote facilities across the country, ensuring high quality customer service from Nashville, Tennessee to Plano, Texas. She shares insights into how MEDHOST’s three operational pillars - enhancing customer experience, building responsive teams, and working strategically to achieve organizational goals -- create an efficient system for resolving customer concerns as soon as they arise.

Health IT on the Record, presented by MEDHOST, explores how innovations in health information technology impact every aspect of a health system, from multi-hospital networks down to individual patients.

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Kim MacTavish: I want to be there to help our customers care explicitly for their patients. It's one of my passions. I love to help grow people. I love to help our organizations.

Host: You're hearing from Kim McTavish, senior vice president of customer support at MEDHOST. In this episode, she shares insights into MEDHOST's three operational pillars:  enhancing customer experience, building responsive and efficient teams, and working strategically to achieve organizational goals.

Kim: I do believe that the work we do here at MEDHOST ultimately provides optimal patient care and allows facilities in hospitals to improve their business operations.

Host: This is Health IT on the Record, presented by MEDHOST, a show that dives into how health information technology innovations impact every aspect of a health system. From multi-hospital networks down to individual patients, Kim walks us through the tactical challenges of maintaining remote facilities across the country as well as how MEDHOST fosters its team members from leadership to customer support call centers. Enjoy the conversation.

Kim: Hi, my name is Kim McTavish with MEDHOST. I'm the senior vice president of customer services and I've been with MEDHOST for ten years.

Host: Kim, thanks so much for taking the time. We are about to talk about customers, people, performance, we're going to walk through kind of the why behind what MEDHOST is doing, and you are the person for us to talk to about this. So I'm really excited to hear, kind of the nitty-gritty. We're going to kind of take this one step at a time, a step behind the scenes to see how it all fits together. So let's get this started off by just talking about the vision that you and the MEDHOST team carry forward every day.

Kim: Well the mission starts at the top, and our vision at MEDHOST is to be an entrusted partner that empowers healthcare organizations to advance the patient care experience and improve business operations. Within that vision, we hold three pillars as a high priority within the organization. The first pillar is our customers, where we keep our customers' needs at the heart of what we do. The second pillar is our people, developing and retaining high-performance teams. And of course performance, which is our third pillar, where we work strategically to achieve our goals.

Host: Excellent. So we're going to be digging into each of those individually. Let's start, with a customer support perspective on how you're able to be a high performing team. What are some of the different bullet points or different steps? I think there's four or five that I've sort of heard but I really want to hear it come from you of the different methods, the different strategies that you're using to focus first on your customers.

Kim: Okay. We do have multiple methods for gathering customer feedback. One of those methods is through voice where customers call in and provide us with feedback and information on the system. We do have chat functionality through our sales force tool in which customers have the ability to communicate directly with our support team through chat. And then we also have a web portal. That web portal functions within the sales force tool as well, where customers have the ability to submit cases to MEDHOST electronically through that portal.

Host: That all makes sense. So the transition here into the next one, what else are you working on?

Kim: We do have redundancy across two sites. We have a Franklin, Tennessee, office and a Plano, Texas, office. Both of these facilities have redundancy, our system failover between our fiscal resources.

Host: Now you personally, you're spending time back and forth.

Kim: I am, I am back and forth about every other week. Franklin, Tennessee, is our corporate office. We do also have the Plano offices I specify, and I do have executive oversight over that campus.

Host: Excellent. so what else do you have that you're working on to deliver this for your customers?

Kim: Well we do have an incident resolution structure. That resolution structure is specific to our escalation path. We have different levels of resources within customer support. We have tier one support analysts, tier two support analysts, we have customer support team leads as well as focused management.

Within that incident resolution structure, we speak through a call coming in, the tier one analyst will take that initial call, that is the first point of contact the customer will encounter. Tier one analysts will obtain detailed information and will assign case and severity level. If there's a point of escalation that's necessary, that case will then go to a team lead. That team lead is the first point of escalation from that tier one analyst, they will coordinate any scheduled downtimes necessary and determine the severity of the escalation.

From the team lead, should a case need to go further, it will reach our tier two analyst, which is our second point of escalation. That direct escalation can occur to development if necessary. And resolution beyond any known solutions.

We do have in addition to that resolution structure, a key role that I believe differentiates us from other businesses within their customer support structure and that's a focus management team. A focus management team entails a number of key customer relationship managers who serve as a point of escalation to ensure timely resolution of support cases. In the event of customers not receiving the level of support in the time that is necessary for resolve, the focus manager can become involved. They do have a set of customer assignments as they manage those relationships. They facilitate any type of cross-departmental communications and escalations as necessary. They do actively case monitor for any kind of trend analysis across the customer base, and they do host recurring status calls to ensure the customer is receiving a high level of support experience across the board.

Host: That's a lot of people. How do you measure success? What does success look like I guess both on the operational side, but also just kind of how it feels, how do you know when you're being successful?

Kim: Well I think that's primarily feedback from our customers. We do have a customer satisfaction rate that we do measure, we do look at that customer satisfaction percentage on a weekly basis, the customer satisfaction rate really determines how well MEDHOST is addressing customer concerns and product issues. It is centric to support so it is a support type of measurement.

We do that through a feedback email invitation survey that goes directly to a call or a person who calls into support after a case is closed. Customers aren't sent a survey invitation on every issue resolution. There is criteria in place to balance email fatigue and to ensure an industry standard survey response rate.

When a support issue is closed or when a case is closed an automated survey invitation will be sent if the customer has either opted in to receive email communication and they have not received a survey invitation within 14 days. In addition to that, there's criteria set where there hasn't been a survey sent on the last ten product-specific issues. So we do have a methodology behind our customer sat. We do review that on a weekly basis. Our customer satisfaction rate over the past three years has increased. Today as it stands, our customer satisfaction rate sits at 96 percent.

Host: Wow. How's that make you feel?

Kim: It is very energizing, absolutely. And it makes me feel very proud of the team and the resources that we have in place supporting our customers.

Host: Now ongoing support for your team. So I know you're supporting your customers ongoing, but how are you ongoing supporting the team to make sure they know what's happening, everyone's on the same page, how are you addressing that?

Kim: We have a pretty robust education program in place. Our education team does report under my org as well. So I certainly have the ability to navigate what comes out of education and how we onboard our new resources. We also have training in place in a cadence that's specific to the needs our product releases. In addition to that we have certification programs across multiple products where we require our support associates to be certified around the applications that they do support.

As far as leadership growth is concerned, we do have mentorship programs that have recently been introduced, and we work through those programs to identify gaps and opportunities that our associates may have to help them grow. We are really focused on building our bench, whether that be from a technical, a product perspective, or from a leadership perspective.

Host: Health IT on the Record is brought to you by MEDHOST. With over thirty years of experience partnering with providers nationwide, MEDHOST is helping evolve better solutions for healthcare management through innovative workflows and technology. For more information visit Let's jump back in.

Host: You mentioned that word of growth, growing your team, educating, retaining your people. I'd love to kind of shift just as we've gone through how you've been delivering support to your customers, now to shift to your people because that's so important. So what are some of the ways that you're focusing on supporting your people and focusing on providing them with what they need?

Kim: We have a lot of programs that we put in place to be sure that our associates are well supported. I would say that at the beginning of each year, as I look into the future, I define the strategy for that year. We kick off that strategy at the beginning of the year, create specific goals that do support that strategy. Those strategic goals are then incorporated across all of our teams, and we have involvement across the board to ensure that we have buy-in and that we're bringing our people into our strategy and making sure that they are well educated around what we are trying to accomplish.

Host: So this is across the whole board, from leadership to boots on the ground.

Kim: That is correct. Yes, absolutely.

Host: So now transitioning from the idea of giving your team support and focusing on your people, I really want to take the next bit of the conversation specifically about your actual people, and why your people are adding so much value to what you are doing. So yeah, take it away. I just want to, yeah just tell me about your team and the pride you have for them.

Kim: Well I have been with MEDHOST for about ten years and I have a fairly diverse background as does my team. I am a registered nurse and I have been for about 22 years, so I understand the healthcare industry, I understand hospitals, I've functioned in multiple capacities within a hospital, but I've also worked at healthcare IT industry for about 12 years as well. So I'm able to take both subsets of that background and be able to mesh into the world that I'm in today.

But to carry down from that, I have multiple leaders in place as well as multiple resources within our team that have different levels or varied levels of expertise and background that have allowed us to be as great as we are. So as an example, my senior director of customer support, she has a business office background and has worked within doctors offices and understand the financial piece of our applications. She has been with us for 20 years, her name is Noelle Ogle, she's a very valued business partner across the entire organization. Two other directors, Chris Dartmouth, and Scott Kessler, and they both have call center backgrounds and have functioned at a capacity where the call center realm or support of all things, they have experienced in the past so they definitely bring some breadth to what we are trying to do from a support perspective.

In addition to that, we have our manager of focus management who has a high focus on our customers and has functioned in that capacity previously as well. Gives you a little bit different perspective on some of the leaders we have in place. When we get to our people, the people who are really out there, boots on the ground, doing the work, talking with our customers on a daily basis, those people really create a diverse bench for us. So we have a team of registered nurses dedicated to supporting our clinical applications.

We do have an interface team within our interface experts with HL7 certifications. We have resources who have high tech certifications and specialties like A+, Lynex, Net+, AS400, and the list does go on from there. In addition to that, we have resources that have healthcare specific certifications and specialties. Resources such as certified pharmacy techs, clinical informatics specialists, healthcare administration MBA, radiology specialists, everything that really would incorporate hospital or business operations within a hospital setting.

And then we have the business office and financial specialists as well. Resources that are IRS certified analysts and have a background perhaps in accounting or have functioned in an accounting world previously. So based on the diverse bench that we have built, we have a strong ability to support our customers in many different ways across the applications they use.

Host: I like it. It's a power team.

Kim: Yes very much so.

Host: It's really neat. Now one of the questions I was asking you earlier about finding success metrics for how your support team was, when you really zoom it out a bit more, looking at MEDHOST as a whole with your support metrics, and even like a scorecard, the idea of a scorecard to see how you're doing, how you're performing, I'd love to talk about that next as we start to wrap up.

Kim: Sure, absolutely. We do have a scorecard we utilize. That scorecard is reviewed on a weekly basis with the leadership team and we do create transparency across our support resources to ensure they have an understanding of how they're performing on a weekly basis. Some of those metrics include the customer satisfaction rate, which I've already shared with you.

We do measure first-day resolve, and the first-day resolve is the rate at which our analysts are able to resolve a customer concern within a 24 hour period. Our target is 82 percent, today our first-day resolve rate from a performance perspective sits at 82 percent as well so we are meeting our goal and we have for the last two years. Manualization is a key performance indicator we do measure. Manualization is a gauge of front-line inbound contact productivity. So how inbound calls are coming and how those calls are being managed from the front line perspective.

And the two last metrics that we do focus on, they are not key performance indicators but they are high gene metrics. And one of those is average speed to answer and that's a telecom metric. And that's the average amount of time between a customer entering the phone system to the call being answered. In addition to that, one of the last metrics we focus on a weekly basis is average handle time. And again that's another telecom metric, and that's the average amount of time between the call being answered and the call disconnect.

So that pretty much takes care of the scorecard that we do review, we hold our analysts and our support personnel accountable to these metrics at all levels whether you are front line answering the phone, you're at a tier two level, or you're even at the leadership level. These are metrics that we focus on to ensure the success of the team as well as our customers.

Host: I love it. Kim, thank you so much for kind of zooming us in throughout the three pillars, if you will: the customers, the team, the performance, the measurement on how you're handling all of these pieces as they work together. I really enjoyed the conversation.

Kim: It was great, it was fun talking with you today.Host: Thanks for listening to Health IT on the Record, presented by MEDHOST. For more stories and content like this, be sure to visit Thanks.

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