Improve consumer experience with empathy

Complexity puts health plans in second-to-last spot for customer experience

Correction, March 14, 2014: Due to a reporter's error, this article misstated HealthNet's position on this year's Temkin Experience Ratings list. The article has been updated to clarify that Coventry Health Care placed last among health plans at No. 268.

Health plan providers lagged behind property & casualty and life insurers in this year's Temkin Experience Ratings. The customer experience research and consulting firm asked 10,000 U.S. consumers to rate the functionality, accessibility and emotional experience of their company interactions.

P&C and life insurance ranked No. 7 out of 19 industries, with an average rating of "okay." Health plans, however, took the No. 18 spot with an overall "poor" rating, Insurance&Technology reported.

Health insurance has been one spot away from the bottom for several years, although the industry did gain 1.5 points over the past year. Kaiser Permanente was the top performer among health plans, although it ranked 109 out of 268 companies. Coventry Health Care was the worst performing health plan, coming in at No. 268, according to the rankings.

The nature of the health insurance industry puts health plans at a disadvantage, according to Insurance&Technology.  The complicated information and terminology often confuse consumers, which influences their experiences with health plans.

To deliver good consumer interactions, health insurers must optimize member communications, using simple, clear and common-sense language, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. "Softer" communication will enable health plans to better reach health insurance exchange consumers, most of whom do not understand fundamental health insurance concepts.

Health plans can improve their interactions with consumers by focusing on empathy, as do P&C and life insurer USAA. The companies ask about life changes and major events during customer interactions, for example, Insurance&Technology noted.

"The ability to demonstrate empathy and create memorable experiences will go a long way in seeing improvements in any of the three categories," Aimee Lucas, vice president and customer experience transformist at Temkin Group told Insurance&Technology.

For more:
- check out the ratings
- read the Insurance&Technology article

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