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PRESS “3” IF YOU HAVE CANCER

I was recently reading an article lamenting the increasingly isolated modern lives we lead. The author told the story by illustrating the changing ways in which we have come to consume entertainment.  For eons, people would go to a musical performance, an opera, or a play and watch live performers, all in a room together.  Then, you had the act of going to a movie in a theater or to a drive-in, the eyes of a community focused on one enormous silver screen.  With the advent and meteoric rise of television, it was the more intimate ritual of gathering around the boob-tube as a family to take in Dallas, M*A*S*H*, Seinfeld, or The Bachelor.  Now, in 2020, each person sits in different rooms of their home, each with their own portable device streaming YouTube, Netflix, or Hulu.  With every generation of technology, we have become more personalized, but also more isolated… less connected with the humans in our immediate proximity.


Interactive voice response (IVR) is a technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through the use of voice and telephonic dial-tones.  We’ve all experienced the technology.  When was the last time you called a corporation and had a live person answer?  Sure, if you pound “0” to get to an agent at every prompt, you might get lucky and end up with a human voice eventually, but these systems are designed for efficiency and uniformity.  Heck, most of them,  while waiting to get to a representative, play a recorded message urging you hang up and try the website for a faster answer! The less contact you have with a real person, the less you cost that company in helping you.

To be sure, IVR has a place in certain types of low-stakes commerce.  There are many banking or tech support inquires, for instance, that can be addressed effectively using technology given that they are highly transactional and lead only to a limited number of outcomes.  “Press 1 for you balance or Press 2 to make a payment” is meeting a basic need with an efficient tool, and the vast majority of callers will be sufficiently served.  But what about when things get complicated?  What about on your worst day?

Here are some alarming statistics from “The State of IVRs in 2018” webinar moderated by Bob Fernekees, publisher of CRM Magazine:

  • 83% would avoid a company after a poor experience with an interactive voice response — Robin Gomez, Director, Data & Analytics, Radial

  • 60% of callers bypass IVR for voice (costs are 12x higher because of this) — Evan Gale, Solutions Executive, Customer Journey Solutions, NICE

  • 76% view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them — Robin Gomez, Director, Data & Analytics, Radial

Now imagine you just heard these words from your child’s physician: “We’ve seen some concerning results in your daughter’s bloodwork, and we need to do more testing to find out what might be happening.”

Where do you turn? Did I even hear that correctly? Do you have a healthcare navigator to help you figure out what’s next?  If so, do you want to call in and “Press 3 for Cancer”…?  Do you want to mash the “0” button on your phone hoping to hear a human voice?  Far too many companies in the healthcare insurance, concierge, and navigation spaces have elected to take the easy way out, meeting vulnerable, confused, and hurting people FIRST with technology, and maybe with a transactional member services person eventually.

Apta Health is different.  In partnership with Quantum Health, we meet humans with humans.  We demonstrate empathy and provide shelter from the impersonal, daunting world of healthcare.  We deploy technology in partnership with our members, guiding them every step of the way.  It is the road less traveled, but as Robert Frost knew some years ago, it does make all the difference.


Let us assist your most valuable resources, your employees and their families, with the same human touch that you seek to deliver to your customers.  Give them the pinnacle of customer service on their worst days, when they need it most.  Give them Apta Health.


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