UnitedHealth seeks 'human potential' in providing customer service

Advocate4Me program gives customer single point of contact, sees 96 percent satisfaction rate

UnitedHealth has quietly transformed customer service through its Advocate4Me program, which has succeeded even if most members could not name it, Forbes reported.

The program provides a customer with a single point of contact for the duration of an issue and gives that customer's contact the power to provide help in avoiding new issues, maximizing benefits and giving the customer a more satisfying experience.

About two years ago, the company surveyed callers and found that 75 percent did not really understand their benefits, while at least half did not understand the cost implications. Forbes said. This drove UnitedHealth to improve the customer experience.

The insurer started by overhauling the recruiting and training processes for customer service advocates. "We changed not only the requirements and types of people we hired, but how we trained them, on everything from handling facts, to empathy and compassion," Chris Carlson, UnitedHealthcare's vice president of customer experience, told Forbes. "Our intention was to change our service interactions from transactions to relationships."

The customer service advocates have access to technology that provides an integrated picture of the customer, allowing the advocates to be proactive in helping the customer. UnitedHealth has spent years improving its big data strategy, using analytics to monitor fraud and waste and to make clinical improvments, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

One example Richard Migliori, UnitedHealth Group's executive vice president and chief medical officer, gave Forbes: After UnitedHealth data showed that one in five patients diagnosed with breast cancer patients also suffers some form of depression, the insurer gave advocates working with these patients "the tools to explore it, locate resources, and even make appointments with local in-network health professionals."

The end result has been a customer satisfaction rate that exceeds 96 percent, with 95 percent of customers ranking their trust of the program as "high." In addition, transferring of callers is down 40 percent, thanks in no small part to the pre-matching of caller and staffer.

"Enabling easy-to-use tools and insights from our deep data and analytical expertise was crucial in enabling the human potential at the core of a great service experience," Migliori said.

To learn more:
- read the Forbes article

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