AHIP Institute 2014: Stop trying to please your members


As insurers increasingly become more consumer-centric, they often set out with a goal of pleasing the consumer. But one expert says that's a losing strategy.

"When you wow your customer, you're not really living the truth," Ingrid Lindberg, chief customer experience officer for Prime Therapeutics, said during her presentation at AHIP Institute 2014 in Seattle. "You can't say 'no' and deliver flowers at the same time."

Instead, she advised the audience to simply focus on doing a good job at insurers' core business. "You have to meet peoples' basic needs," Lindberg explained. For insurers, that means they can't start trying to delight consumers if they're not even paying claims in a timely manner. "Just pay the claim," she said, and then insurers can enhance the consumer experience after they meet that baseline.

Lindberg added that when insurers focus on consumers, it's often about the "how." For example, instead of simply denying a claim or request from a consumer for a medical service, they could suggest another possibility. They could say, "'You can have this instead' or 'Did you know this service could save you money?'" Lindberg said. The most important part is that insurers must "remove 'no' from the vernacular."

As insurers focus more on the consumer experience, they also must change their own corporate culture to teach all employees to place high value on their members. But Lindberg cautioned against creating manditory training programs for employees. Instead, she said it's better to set clear expectations and frequently talk about new choices. For example, she has banned all acronyms, industry jargon and anything over a 5th-grade reading level from all internal and external communications at Prime Therapeutics.

"Lay out a path, articulate it often and you'll weed out the employees who don't belong" in the new culture, she explained. Then you'll be left with the people in the organization that truly know how to enhance a customer's experience.

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