The importance of empathy in customer experience.
Clear, compassionate communications for all
We’ve discussed the older, more vulnerable generation. But what about everyone else? Jack argues that there’s actually a big problem with how the healthcare industry treats all its members. Everyone needs clear communications about their healthcare. Whether that’s a business person educated to degree level, or a lawyer with a doctorate. We’ve discussed many times the fallacy of the sophisticated customer. Members might be well-educated, but will they understand complex health concepts and jargon? Not necessarily. Also, they are busy, their cognitive load is high. In Jack’s words:
“I’m not implying that we should dumb things down for people. I’m implying that we should write things with the audience in mind.”
And what about the argument that healthcare is a complex topic, so communications will always need to be complex? “That’s a sell-out”, according to Jack.
Steps to success
So why is this happening? And what approach does Jack suggest?
Get it right first time
Very few companies deliberately set out to create complex content. It happens regularly within the healthcare industry because of internal dynamics. Jack gave us the example of a claims team, who are usually the teams creating claims letters. Despite being totally unqualified for this role. He argues that, if we are to solve these issues, we need to focus on processes and quality.
“Do it right the first time, and cut down on re-works.”
It’s simple. Create claims letters (as an example) with the audience in mind. Avoid a spike in calls when they hit the mailbox.
Better staff training
As part of Jack’s experience with Part D, his team were regularly sending out 500,000 – 1 million member letters.
“We had over two million members so we had an extraordinary amount of letters hitting the mailbox at the same time. And if those letters were not written right, those members called in and killed our call center. So we went through extensive letter writing analysis to help us improve our communications.”
Look at the processes of sending out communications, and make necessary improvements. A short-term investment in analysis and training in call center efficiency can very often lead to savings downstream.
Consider readability solutions
Another helpful resource comes in the form of readability software, such as VT Insights Platform. The solution flags:
- The use of long sentences
- Overuse of the passive voice
- Grade level
Whether the claims or marketing team are creating content, VT Insights Platform allows all employees to easily score their own writing. And using VT Insights, management can ensure all member content achieves a minimum standard of readability.
What excellent customer experience really looks like
Jack told us that customer experience is a bit of a buzz term in healthcare insurance right now. It’s appearing in presentations to the board, but he wonders how often it actually reaches the call center floor. Let’s say a representative is tasked with keeping talk time under four minutes. How much compassion can she really offer the caller in that short time? Many providers make the mistake of implementing goals that directly contradict an empathetic approach.
An organization that really cares about their members will approach things differently. In a few of his roles, Jack was part of regular member / customer focus groups.
“We’d bring in 20 seniors for lunch. We’d eat pizza, and talk about the things they would want to see from their health carrier.”
Connecting with members is so important. There’s a real ignorance from the industry in understanding how the other side views healthcare. There is a massive opportunity for insurers to consider the member / customer journey, and consider their possible state of mind at each stage. Some of the many benefits on offer include increased member retention. Improve call center efficiency and lower volume of calls. Satisfied staff and members, and higher customer acquisition. It really pays to be thoughtful.