Updated November 2023
The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is an important time for Medicare outreach. As a peak time for Medicare enrollment, it’s also an exceptionally busy time for call centers that reach out to beneficiaries. AEP can require a lot of additional staffing, training, and operational processes, so call center managers will want to get the most out of this investment.
At Drips, we’ve learned a lot from talking to millions of beneficiaries about Medicare during AEP. In this blog, we’ll share what we’ve learned and see how payers can use this information to improve AEP outreach. We’ll talk about the best time to contact beneficiaries and reveal the number one best-performing day during the last AEP. Ready? Let’s begin!
The Best Time To Contact Beneficiaries About Medicare
Let’s get right into our data about the best time of day to contact beneficiaries during AEP. When Drips used SMS conversational outreach to schedule phone appointments with beneficiaries, the most popular appointment time was 11 a.m. On average, this is the most convenient time for beneficiaries looking to understand their Medicare coverage options and potentially make an enrollment decision.
By making more calls during this time slot — and during late morning in general — licensed agents may see fewer missed calls. This means lower overall outreach costs and a better experience for beneficiaries.
Make A Splash On The First Monday Of AEP
Now, let’s look at AEP as a whole. AEP occurs annually from October 15 to December 7 for a total of 54 days. As you plan staffing and outreach for AEP, how should you spend your limited resources for the best effect? Which of those days should be given an extra effort from your team?
This makes sense. Beneficiaries know that getting a great Medicare health plan is important to their health. Many beneficiaries probably research health plans before AEP and are ready to act early in the period. This lends a sense of urgency during the very beginning of AEP.
You can think of that first Monday like a “double word” space in Scrabble — you’ll want to plan for it thoughtfully to make the most of the boost in results. On the other hand, health plans that aren’t maximizing outreach during the start of AEP may miss out on opportunities to connect beneficiaries to healthcare.
Even though the first Monday has already passed for this AEP, there’s still a takeaway here for plans. We also found that Mondays in general were the best weekday for outreach (with Tuesdays and Wednesdays also performing well).
Of course, it’s easy to say that call centers should invest resources at specific times. However, that can be challenging in terms of operations. Let’s explore those challenges next.
Challenges For Call Centers During AEP
While data and insights are great, call centers still face big challenges when optimizing their outreach during AEP. One challenge is hiring and training new staff to handle the increased volume of outreach during AEP. It’s important to have enough staff to engage with beneficiaries effectively and provide personalized assistance.
Having a large team of agents can be great for the consumer, but managing the team can be less flexible than we might like. First, these agents will need to be hired and trained well in advance of the peak season. It’s not as simple as flipping a switch to increase capacity for AEP.
Managing CRM systems and coordinating agents to contact beneficiaries at the exact right time can also be difficult. The data might say to concentrate a large number of outbound dials in the late morning on Mondays and Tuesdays — but this might not be possible logistically.
It’s also worth saying that each audience is different. We think our findings are an interesting starting point for optimizing AEP outreach. But they may not apply to your audience for any number of reasons. Plans may need to change to accommodate beneficiaries who prefer different outreach timing. With traditional call center outreach, these kinds of pivots can take time and come with opportunity costs.
At Drips, we understand these challenges. It’s not enough to have great data — you also need technology that enables your outreach and a team to support you.
Boosting AEP Conversions With Drips
To show how Drips can help with AEP outreach, let’s look at a success story from one of our clients. They were looking to improve conversion rates during AEP. However, their agents only had time to call each beneficiary a few times before moving on to the next Medicare shopper.
They leveraged Drips’ AI-powered SMS and conversational outreach to take the pressure off their agents. By replacing some calls with texts from Drips, they were able to scale their outreach more efficiently. It also became easier to A/B test different message timings with the help of Drips’ hands-on team.
By giving beneficiaries a comfortable way to respond by text message, they saw conversion rates increase by 66% during AEP.
Time To Rethink AEP Outreach
Timing is crucial when reaching beneficiaries during AEP. Our insights can help call centers know when the best time is to reach out. By targeting late morning and taking advantage of the first Monday of AEP, call centers can effectively engage and achieve better outcomes.
As you plan for future Annual Enrollment Periods, we encourage you to use Drips’ expertise and technology. Request a Drips demo today.