BUILDING STRONG CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS FOR BETTER DECISION MAKING

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1 BUILDING STRONG CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS FOR BETTER DECISION MAKING A Healthcare Case Study A regional health insurance company with a strong brand and competitive rates found itself with an influx of new customers from the passage of the Affordable Care Act an increase in membership that required it to adjust on many fronts. Also fielding customer complaints that included a suboptimal billing process and lack of access to care, the health plan knew that taking a customer-centric approach was the right way to tackle the challenge. But with a small team dedicated to the effort, it needed help. Working worked closely with the health plan, North Highland along with experts from its experience design division, Sparks Grove helped foster a better understanding of customers and the reasons they were unhappy with their experience with the organization. The team laid the foundation for the health plan to more effectively and systematically consider customer needs, preferences, and behaviors in the future when making decisions affecting the business and the member experience. To do so, the team created a program to connect and engage with customers and embarked on an intensive, fast-moving effort to understand the journey the health plan s members took from enrollment through renewal. The team also provided insights about customer preferences and motivations to help inform the design of a new automated phone system. PUTTING A FACE TO THE NAME Understanding an Emerging Customer Base after ACA THE TEAM LAID THE FOUNDATION FOR THE HEALTH PLAN TO MORE EFFECTIVELY AND SYSTEMATICALLY CONSIDER CUSTOMER NEEDS, PREFERENCES, AND BEHAVIORS IN THE FUTURE WHEN MAKING DECISIONS AFFECTING THE BUSINESS AND THE MEMBER EXPERIENCE. An influx of new customers due to the Affordable Care Act meant that the organization needed a better understanding of who it was serving.

2 The health plan wanted to implement a voice-of-the-customer program to capture insights about its members' expectations, preferences, and desires and use those insights to make better business decisions. A robust program would allow the health plan to keep its finger on the pulse of member satisfaction levels and changing needs - and focus resources on what matters most. North Highland and Sparks Grove worked with the health plan to create a program to connect and engage with customers at key points in their journey to learn their needs and expectations. The health plan was already interacting with its members at various touchpoints, including surveys, but didn t have a good process in place for interpreting feedback, reacting in a meaningful way, and monitoring whether a given solution actually fixed the problem. To address these issues, the team identified more than 20 customer feedback channels within the organization, from online chats to social media and surveys. The team then identified channels where the customer voice was not being heard and acted upon, revised surveys and created new ones, and harnessed insights from live chat sessions and call center records. Using an agile approach to make and test changes quickly, the team piloted five enhancements to help the health plan more effectively react to customer feedback and monitor improvements. The team also identified hurdles and governance gaps that needed be remedied in order to establish the voice-of-the-customer program throughout the organization and implement far-reaching customer experience improvements. THE RESULTS The work instilled a framework for listening and responding to customers throughout the health plan s organization, laying a foundation that will help its teams make changes in a practical, scalable manner and to continue to do so in both the short- and long-terms. By streamlining and improving customers interactions with support representatives, the organization anticipates higher levels of satisfaction in addition to financial savings. TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES, THE TEAM IDENTIFIED MORE THAN 20 CUSTOMER FEEDBACK CHANNELS WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION, FROM ONLINE CHATS TO SOCIAL MEDIA AND SURVEYS, AND PILOTED FIVE ENHANCEMENTS TO HELP THE HEALTH PLAN MORE EFFECTIVELY REACT TO CUSTOMER FEEDBACK. 2 North Highland Building Strong Customer Relationships for Better Decision Making

3 The voice-of-the-customer program also served as the backbone that allowed the health plan to systematically incorporate member preferences as it identified and prioritized improvements related to two key areas: billing and payments and its automated phone system. INSIGHTS INTO ACTIONS Evolving Business Processes Based on Real Customer Feedback To get a handle on increasing attrition rates that exceeded 60 percent, the health plan wanted to find out why its customers were so unhappy. The team found customers were reporting headaches with the health plan's billing and payments processes, specifically, with a high level of confusion over eight-page bills filled with legal and financial jargon. Other members complained of long waits to speak with a representative in order to pay their bills via phone or said they were missing critical doctor appointments due to the health plan's delinquent payments process. The team embarked on an intensive, fast-moving, 13-week effort to understand the journey the health plan s members took from enrollment through renewal. In-depth interviews with three dozen members mapped out interactions with customer service representatives and other channels at each step along the way. The team identified patterns and groupings of people who tended to go through the process similarly and developed composite profiles that embodied the organization s customer base. The team then interviewed front-line customer service representatives to understand their approaches, opinions, and hurdles when serving members, and brainstormed with the health plan s teams to identify the root cause of each of those pain points before identifying and prioritizing the improvements that would have the largest effect on the customer experience. In total, the team delivered more than 150 recommendations that touched on every aspect of the member experience, including improvements related to the health plan s billing and payments process. IN TOTAL, THE TEAM DELIVERED MORE THAN 150 RECOMMENDATIONS THAT TOUCHED ON EVERY ASPECT OF THE MEMBER EXPERIENCE, INCLUDING IMPROVEMENTS RELATED TO HOW THE HEALTH PLAN S CUSTOMERS EXPERIENCED THE BILLING AND PAYMENTS PROCESS. 3 North Highland Building Strong Customer Relationships for Better Decision Making

4 THE RESULTS The insights uncovered led to an enhanced customer experience, with improvements that included the creation of a tutorial about the payment process for new members and a redesign that led to simpler, shorter bills four pages, compared to eight before. The health plan also redefined how it handled delinquent payments, ensuring that customers who paid their premiums would be reinstated quickly. EMBRACING A TECHNOLOGY SHIFT with Customer Experience at the Heart of Change Customer complaints made it clear that using the health plan s antiquated self-service phone system was a last resort for members. As the organization prepared to revamp its system, it wanted to learn more about how its customers preferred to interact with support staff and tools. The team held 75 qualitative interviews with members and providers and spent nine weeks analyzing the most recent contacts with the health plan s customer contact center. The team then mapped the members and providers journeys, identified general preferences for self-service and automated call systems, and developed five composite profiles to personify aggregate customer preferences, motivations, and needs. To help inform the design of the new automated phone system, the team provided more than 40 insights and recommendations. Among the suggested improvements for self-service channels were the ability to assign a priority to calls, ensure seamless integration with data in the organization s customer relationship management system, and offer self-service options for claim status, billing status, and ordering new identification cards. THE RESULTS The work guided the design of new technology to ensure it met customer needs and preferences, and fueled an awareness of the importance of taking these customer needs and preferences into account when making business 4 North Highland Building Strong Customer Relationships for Better Decision Making

5 decisions. By equipping the health plan with a framework for incorporating customer preference, the team helped the health plan better take member s wants and needs into account when redesigning the phone system and when making future service changes. SUMMARY: Better Decision Making Across the Organization Working together across many areas to accelerate change, North Highland and the health plan were able to implement a strong, highly effective voiceof-the-customer program and quickly leverage those insights to prioritize and pilot improvements to the billing and payments processes and its automated phone system. As the first chapter in a new corporate story, one that centers on a thorough understanding of customer needs, preferences, and behaviors, the work helped fuel a change of direction toward a more customer-centric organization. ABOUT NORTH HIGHLAND North Highland is a global management consulting firm that delivers unique value, relevant big ideas and strategic business capabilities to clients around the world. The firm solves complex business problems for clients in multiple industries through an integrated approach and offers specialty services via its Data and Analytics, Managed Services, and Sparks Grove divisions. North Highland is an employee-owned firm that has been named as a Best Firm to Work For every year since 2007 by Consulting Magazine. The firm is a member of Cordence Worldwide ( a global management consulting alliance. For more information, visit northhighland.com and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Copyright 2015 The North Highland Company. All Rights Reserved.

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