Research Suggests: Member Experience Can Drive Member and Employer Group Retention
With open enrollment quickly approaching, consumers now have the choice once again to re-up their health insurance plan or reevaluate other options for 2023. Healthcare costs are continuing to rise, and with that, members are expecting the member experience to improve as well. However, a recent survey found that only 52% of employees believe that the quality of their experience had increased at the same rate.
There is no doubt that health payers have transformed their member experience, turning many in-person practices into digital experiences to meet the digital demands of consumers today. But, with so much focus on the digital component, we’ve forgotten to ask ourselves – what is the impact of the quality of these member experiences on member loyalty and retention? Are the digital investments that health insurers made during the pandemic enabling the type of quality member experience payers need to drive retention?
Research suggests that digital investments have not necessarily yielded the expected impact on member experience but that if health payers can improve member experience through digital channels, there is a positive correlation to member and employer group retention.
In this post, let’s explore just how member experience can drive retention.
Member experience is a top competing factor when choosing a health plan
While cost is a key factor when considering a health plan, member experience, particularly through digital channels, is playing a more significant role for members as they evaluate plan options. Members have clearly come to expect and value digital experiences as remote work and life has persisted, so health payers now have the opportunity to evaluate their current strategies to ensure that they are providing the quality of meaningful experiences that members have come to expect across their digital channels.
Customers found website and mobile app experiences to be more important than premiums, rates, and fees —perhaps another sign of the importance of digital experiences during the pandemic.”The US Health Insurers Customer Experience Index, 2021, Forrester Consulting
For example, in a recent report, The US Health Insurers Customer Experience Index, 2021, analyst group Forrester studies customer perceptions of health insurance brands and how those influence their purchasing decisions and overall brand advocacy. In it, the analysts outline, “Customers found website and mobile app experiences to be more important than premiums, rates, and fees —perhaps another sign of the importance of digital experiences during the pandemic.”
Additionally, in a Relay-hosted webinar, “Level Up Member Engagement: How to Digitally Build Member Trust”, with CXO at BCBS Louisiana, Shane Bray, and CEO at Relay, Matt Gillin, Bray echoed the importance of member experience: “The important piece is really on the service and on the experience that the plan can provide. I think that what we’re talking about is incredibly important for competitive advantage, for the overall member experience, and just for satisfaction and the products that [members] are buying. Healthcare isn’t cheap and they have high expectations.”
The ease of automation will never beat out human interactions when it comes to member experience
According to Accenture, to succeed at reaching customers, insurers must use future-ready technology and operations that help them change how they engage. To address this, 66% of insurance executives report that the pace of digital transformation for their organization is accelerating. But along with making the right investments, finding ways to humanize digital experiences so that members don’t feel like just another number is also as critical. While automating communications might be efficient and easy for the business, it typically begets an overall poorer member experience that can lead to member frustration and dissatisfaction, and even worse, member churn.
The solution is for health payers and software vendors to prioritize experiences that are beneficial to the member, not just the business, and in doing so create a more human-centric and differentiated digital experience that improves member sentiment. That is why Forrester says, “…health insurers’ digital experiences remain largely undistinguished from one another, and the pure digital experiences continue to lag behind those that have at least some physical component.”
Members want to feel known, appreciated, and respected
Lastly, member experience, when done right, should evoke feelings of respect, understanding, and appreciation from members. Members want to trust that their health plan is focused on doing what’s best for them, and the experience that health payers provide for them is a great indicator of that. If health payers can use digital engagement to establish more meaningful relationships with their members, enhancing their overall member experience, they can expect an increase in member loyalty, advocacy, and retention. And who wouldn’t want that?
Among health insurance customers who felt respected… 66% plan to stay with the brand, 84% will advocate for it, 54% plan to add benefits or programs to their existing plan, and 83% will consider the brand for their next plan.”The US Health Insurers Customer Experience Index, 2021, Forrester Consulting
According to Forrester, “Among health insurance customers who felt respected… 66% plan to stay with the brand, 84% will advocate for it, 54% plan to add benefits or programs to their existing plan, and 83% will consider the brand for their next plan.”
Overall, improving the quality of member experiences has immediate and long-term benefits for health payers. Now is the time for health payers to evaluate their engagement tools and strategies to ensure that they are providing a meaningful experience for all members.
Learn how the Relay Feed can support health payers in providing a better quality experience for their members today.