In the US, we are in the midst of new healthcare system roll out. With the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA), also known as Obamacare, now a reality, there seems to be more questions and than answers in the press and among people I hear discussing healthcare insurance today. And for those managing customer service in the healthcare insurance industry, the stakes are even higher.
- Healthcare consumers need more information than ever – Those looking for insurance are confused and need information – now. It came to a head in October when the new healthcare exchanges opened for business and will accelerate in the months ahead. It may not only rain – but pour – as phones and websites are hit by a flood of people with new questions.
- Churn could be coming – Existing customers could be lost to insurance providers with new choices. The one or few sellers paradigm that many have had at their existing companies is now changing.
- You will have opportunities to engage new customers – New prospects coming to your self-service systems, phone lines, or websites are an opportunity for new business. But will insurers be able to engage and capture new business?
The impact on customer satisfaction in healthcare
Of particular interest will be to see what happens with customer satisfaction in the U.S. healthcare industry after Obamacare has been in play for a while. The American Customer Satisfaction Index shows increases in satisfaction for many insurance providers in the last year but that may be harder to deliver on now with an overhauled heathcare system. In a recent article, Forbes reports that the ACA may actually improve poor customer service among healthcare insurance providers as they fight to hold on to existing customers or gain new customers.
This time, it’s about Customer Experience
With the ACA now here, it is in many ways bigger than Y2K ever was – at least for the healthcare industry. With so much new information, new policies, and new guidelines, customers will need more support than ever before.
Insurance providers need to make communication easy – be it multilingual, multi-channel (web, phone, email, mobile, social). They need to understand through analytics what questions or issues customers have. And armed with information, they then need to respond with the right information using the best resources in their organization. Current customers could switch if their current website chat or contact centers are unable to answer their questions swiftly. Similarly, new customers could be lost if the right agents are not available to chat or answer the prospects’ questions with the right information.
So, since October a new version of Y2K has started and a new game is here. The winners will be the ones who are able to handle the volume – keeping your existing customers and gaining new ones – that “quantity” side of the equation. On the “quality side,” the winners must be able to offer 1 to 1 customer experiences: right resource, right time, right information. The winners will leverage multi-channel – or better yet cross-channel – capabilities where web chat, phone, self-service, mobile, and proactive notification communiqués all work together to best provide consumers with the healthcare insurance information they need to choose their insurance provider. For a great example of leading- edge customer experience, check out the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center story.
To learn more and get a prescription for dealing with customer service with the Affordable Care Act, check out the brief: Customer Service Prescription for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
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