Case Studies

Columbia Patient Account Services Cuts Turnover, Saves Thousands

Columbia Patient Account Services (CPAS) and its two call centers operate as an extension of HCA Healthcare Corporation’s billing office. HCA Healthcare owns and manages many hospitals located both domestically and internationally. The CPAS call center division is responsible for healthcare payment collection services. Both call centers are internally based and total approximately 700 employees.



The Challenge

The client organization described in this case study is among the many who are endlessly facing an uphill battle trying to keep call center agents in their seats long enough to simply break even on their training investment. CPAS was dealing with 100% turnover of call center representatives and high recruiting and training costs. Their goal was to increase the effectiveness of the recruiting process, reduce employee turnover rates, reduce recruiting costs, and ensure better customer service by hiring the right type of employees.

Recruitment & Training Process

The client recruits applicants for both full- and part-time call center agent jobs. For a typical job applicant to be considered “qualified” they must only possess minimal customer service experience. The absence of a well-developed, systematic assessment process is a major contributing factor for the client’s annual turnover rate. Agent training is focused on enhancing general customer service, account handling, and system skills, and is delivered through a ten-day program which includes demos, role-playing, and on-the-job instruction. Agents learn about handling client-specific issues through educational videos, and additional role-playing which integrates actual client account information.

Assessment Strategy

CPAS partnered with DeGarmo to develop a customized testing solution involving the Customer Service Fit Index (CSFI). The CSFI is part of the Fit Index System, which is a collection of occupation-specific assessments for primarily front-line, customer facing positions, and designed to reduce employee turnover by measuring an applicant’s work style and “tolerance” for various job demands. As part of a research initiative, data was collected and analyzed to determine the optimal scoring method for use at their organization.

Assessment Impact

After a six month period of time, turnover data was collected and the results were clear: the CSFI was effective for reducing turnover. Depending on the way in which CPAS chose to make hiring decisions, turnover reduction ranged from 28% to 45%. That is, CPAS had alternatives for a more conservative assessment approach where both Low and Marginal Risk candidates were considered passing, or a more aggressive selection approach where only Low Risk candidates passed. Clearly a more conservative approach initially would make recruitment somewhat easier since a greater percentage of candidates would pass, but ultimately the sacrifice would be in the system’s overall effectiveness.

The conservative approach netted a 28% turnover reduction, whereas the more aggressive path provided a 45% reduction.

Additionally, based on the system’s effectiveness, the return on investment for CPAS, even for a small sample of applicants, ranged from $25,000 to $50,000.

  The design of the study permitted a controlled analysis of turnover risk. DeGarmo and CPAS executives co-authored a book chapter on this case study titled “Reducing Call Center Employee Turnover” which was published in In Action: Recruiting, training, and evaluating call center employees, N.L. Petouhoff (Ed.). Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development.

About DeGarmo

DeGarmo develops and distributes innovative talent assessment and development solutions to help clients maximize revenue growth, productivity, and workforce stability. Our award-winning pre-employment assessments, leadership assessments, and training solutions have been delivered to millions of job candidates worldwide through our talent platform, or through integrations with major applicant tracking system (ATS) providers. More than 10,000 HR professionals have received HRCI or SHRM certification credits through DeGarmo’s webinars on critical HR topics such as talent assessment, interviewing, leadership, turnover reduction, and culture fit.

Contact Information

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