As evidenced in our CVS case study, as well as many other companies, a lack of communication, can really be detrimental to a business. But, really, who has time to communicate anymore? Emails are a hassle and easily missed, phone use is nonexistent and everyone has schedules that are maxed out. In the field of BPM, the response to this has been the increased use of chatbot automation. In fact, in an article on the trends of Process Management by Kissflow.com they reference a forecast made by Gartner in 2011 where they predict that by 2020 85% of the customer enterprise communication would happen without the involvement of a single human. Gartner was right! There are very few websites being built today without the option of a chatbot to guide the visitor along in whatever call-to-action or commonly asked facts they could encounter on the site. In the time of COVID where staffing is lean and face to face collaboration nonexistent, chatbot support is really useful.
Applying this chatbot technology to CVS could be helpful to both their internal and external processes. Taking an example from both instances where I propose an improvement in their Pharmacy using chatbots:
- Customer-facing: Communication on third-party issues and with third-party authorizations can be a big problem and cause massive wait times – I believe a chatbot in this instance would be helpful. Mobile automated chatbot communication about issues with refills, authorizations, or any delays affecting the wait time for prescriptions communicated in real-time to the customer. After a successful start – an expansion on this technology could increase with approvals using docu sign technology both internally and externally.
- Internally: I make no sweeping recommendations without the caveat that I am not a healthcare professional nor do I have any knowledge of HIPAA rules and regulations but internal chatbot technology, I believe, would alleviate a lot of process-related bottlenecks in the CVS pharmacy. Most importantly, a chatbot could be helpful to train Techs. Since they have such an integral role in the pharmacy process, there is little room for error. A chatbot, step by step digitized list to keep handy on a smartwatch or tablet to fail-proof the system for training could prove useful. Additionally, the chatbot could communicate to a smart screen at the point of drop-off if the area is unmanned while the Tech is helping out in the drive-thru, allowing them to start serving the next customer before they even get to the physical location. This would help prevent the problem of customers feeling like they are waiting a long time at an unmanned desk.
Let’s take a look at how this fits specifically with the problem the case study presents.
For example, we see the journey of the drive-through consumer. The process as it currently exists has the customer driving up to the window to pick up (or drop off) their script while in example b. the customer would walk up to the pick up (or drop off to the desk) in the Pharmacy. In both cases, the big issue is an unmanned desk. This frustrating experience sets the tone for the rest of the interaction where, if there is any additional wait or changes in the script, the likelihood of the customer “losing it” increases. An interesting idea using chatbot technology might look like this:
the customer walks or drives up to an unmanned desk > a touch screen is available to interact with to answer any questions and gives an alert to the Tech to wrap up what they are doing and acknowledge the pick up (or drop off) > tech returns to the desk > all work is done
According to the CVS case study, a decade ago, the internal process suboptimally places an inordinate amount of responsibility on techs. I would propose that, along with a hybrid Nurse Tech Manager position, there was a handoff that occurs when the DUR is tripped for any reason. Here’s how I see a chatbot enhancing that process.
the customer drops off their prescription > the tech then inputs all of the information into the system > the DUR is tripped because the medicine identified is not covered under their plan > via a smartwatch or tablet carried around by the Nurse Tech Manager, they are given an alert to deal with this issue > periodic alerts are given so that the issue does not fall through the cracks and wait times for customers are reduced > the chatbot takes the NMT through a series of questions and procedure to solve the issue which would prevent lengthy phone calls to Insurance