Banner Ad

Published on : January 15, 2014

Next Up: Customer Experience

Next Up: Customer Experience

There’s a lot of moving parts ahead in 2014’s healthcare ecosystem: Obamacare 2.0, Paying for Quality, mHealth, Big Healthcare Data and Socialnomics. But one theme is going to rise above all else and prove to be the impact trend of 2014: customer experience.

This is the year when payers, providers and employers will stop talking about being customer focused and actually start delivering personalized, relevant and multi-channel consumer interactions. Superior customer experience (aka CX) is no longer an option. With benefit standardization, provider network parity, price transparency and regulatory constraints commoditizing markets and neutralizing brands…what’s left?

Healthcare is now defined by personal responsibility; it’s the consumer’s obligation to deal with intimidating financial and clinical decisions. Even with enrollment estimates for state and federally-run public health insurance marketplaces suspect, recent projectionshave40 million Americans expected to buy health insurance through private exchanges by 2018(Are You Ready? Private Health Insurance Exchanges Are Looming, Accenture, 2013).If we ask customers to step-up and take control of their healthcare destiny they need to be engaged. The only way to accomplish this is through a customer experience that respects the complete customer journey – from prospect to participant to promoter – each built on a foundation of trust, empowerment and outcomes.

Shift in control

The retailization of healthcare means consumers are in control: budgeting benefits, choosing providers, and navigating care options. With the proliferation of social media and mobile communications, consumers are used to being connected and communicating. They are 24/7 always-on and perpetually connected. With instant, real-time communications at their fingertips, consumers are at ground zero of many customer experience dialogues, rather than just a passive receiver of corporate claims of customer centricity. They are generating and broadcasting information. They’re talking about you, reviewing you, price checking you, and recommending you…or not! Today’s customer has an abundance of choice and they are determining your value and what your brand stands for. And they’re doing it anywhere, anytime and anyhow. If they’re not satisfied they will take their money and spend it elsewhere (and encourage others to do the same). Stated simply, control of the dialogue has passed to the consumer.

However, as much as they’re in control, remember, customer experience encompasses every aspect of a consumer's interaction with your company’s services, products and people…. the sum total of everything they see, hear, feel and experience as part of their dealings with your company. And that’s something you can control! How well do your brand touchpoints resonate with your customers’ needs, drive engagement and promote loyalty?

Built on data

Companies are struggling to keep pace with the complexities of their customers, from engagement patterns to media preferences. At the core of a superior customer experience is a company’s capacity to collect, organize, analyze and interpret customer data. Actionable big data translates into better returns on customer management investments. It turns data into insights, insights into intelligence and intelligence into results. The yield is great; an ability to understand variations among customer segments to develop a complete snapshot or “single view” of the most valuable (and most vulnerable) customers. Predictive consumer insights – core demographics, purchasing habits, lifestyle or lifestage attributes, and health attitudes and behaviors – create tighter, better managed engagement strategies. And, the more enriched intelligence you have about your customers – what’s important to them, who’s at risk of leaving, who they’re talking to, and what they’re saying – the more customers you will keep by creating the right experience for the right customer at the right time.

Until now the healthcare consumer life cycle has most often been viewed as a series of disconnected events or fragmented interactions throughout the organization. Integrating enterprise data enables a cross-functional, coordinated approach to communication that fosters a more personalized, lower-cost customer relationship and achieves true 360°member engagement. As a result, communications become dialogues rather than monologues, with every consumer interaction delivering a brand experience supporting the relationship.

Manage the journey

How do healthcare companies deliver superior customer experience? It won’t be easy. Annual consumer surveys by J.D. Power and Forrester consistency rank health insurers far below other sectors when it comes to a few basic customer questions: Do they meet my needs? Are they easy to deal with? Would I recommend them to a friend?And, if you’re having trouble convincing the CFO that customer experience is a bottom-line issue, consider this: $83 billion is lost in marketing each year due to poor customer experiences(The State of Marketing 2013, IBM’s Global Survey of Marketers, 2013).

The current state of healthcare consumer communications needs an overhaul. There’s redundant and siloed messaging, no personalization, and very little measurement. To gain the most complete  understanding of yourcurrent CX use a cross-functional touchpoint analysis to document every member interaction to construct a process map of customer engagement and a data map that describes what, when and where customer data is captured. With this in place, you can create dynamic customer journeys that are personalized through segmentation and integrated across channels (e.g., telephonic, digital, retail).

C-Suite driven

Ultimately, turning around healthcare’s CX will be driven by customer insights that allow you to know your customer, create relevant content delivered through relevant channels, deploy cross-organization satisfaction metrics, and most importantly, have champions for your customers’ experience that reside in the C-Suite.Customer experience is like a conversation. Every person can add facts and tone to the ongoing relationship. Some conversations happen quickly while others take months or years to unfold. All build on the prior conversation and each one can either strengthen or weaken the relationship.

Every touchpoint throughout the customer lifecycle must create a value exchange through an integrated communication stream that deepens engagement and improves loyalty. And in healthcare, unlike transactional retail markets, loyalty-driven CX needs to focus on interactions (vs. transactions) with an ability to leverage individual motivators as well as emotional and rational drivers of customer behavior. The payoff is not only better customer retention and LifeTime Value, but a healthcare customer experience differentiated by personalization and most importantly, one that produces happy, profitable customers.

About the Author

Lindsay Resnick is chief marketing officer of KBM Group: Health Services. He is a frequent blogger, author and speaker on trends in healthcare, insurance, marketing and business strategy. He can be reached at

KBM Group: Health Services ( a healthcare and insurance marketing and customer engagement agency that combines its proprietary national consumer database with sophisticated predictive analytics to drive direct-to-consumer marketing campaigns. Wunderman’s KBM Group is part of WPP, a $16.5 billion global holding company with an extensive network of marketing, advertising and communication resources.