To navigate through these new frontiers, we have identified five key areas in which health plans can transform member interactions into a customer-centered experience. They are simple concepts that can sometimes get lost in day-to-day business operations.
1. Know the customer. It sounds simple, but disparate systems and customer touchpoints make this harder than it seems. For a health plan, this means integrating channels and systems so customers don’t have to repeat information when they contact you. It also means that the company knows the entirety of a customer’s relationship with the firm – which family members are in the household, if they have multiple products and services, etc. It’s about keeping information accurate and knowing a customer’s communication channel preferences and needs based on their specific health profile.
2. Remove friction. A frictionless customer experience is the best customer experience by removing the things that make it tough for a customer to do business with you. Friction is often the result of inside-out thinking -- putting processes, policies, technology, and sometimes politics ahead of what’s best for the customer. Instead, enable the people, processes, and technology to seamlessly connect sources of interaction.
3. Resolve problems. This issue may be self evident, but it’s often the toughest to accomplish and has the biggest impact on the consumer. First contact resolution is a hot topic among customer care professionals, and should be a top priority for health plans as they deal directly with consumers and other customer groups more frequently. Empower associates to solve problems without transferring or hanging up. Use knowledge management and customer feedback to continuously learn from employees and customers about how to improve experiences.
5. Protect the customer. Without a customer you don’t have a business, you have a hobby. It’s important to remember that efforts must be made within your organization to act in their best interests, because now it’s much easier for them to go elsewhere. Protecting the customer cements the bond between the customer and the health plan and ensures that the trust is lasting, not transactional. Be sure to communicate with each customer according to that customer’s preferences – don’t force them to interact with you in a manner dictated by the health plan. And, perhaps most importantly, train and encourage your associates to be empathetic advisors, not just company representatives on the other end of the phone or chat.