Don't be the Cable Company - Deliver a Cross-Channel Experience.

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Are you Delivering The Cable Company Experience?

We’ve all been there - you’re looking to upgrade your cable television and high-speed internet service.  First, you do some scouting online, but you're not confident enough to make a decision - is this package REALLY available in my location?  After looking through a website for clarity, what you find instead are instructions for you to call customer service.  When you do, you’re asked to validate an account, if you have one.  The person on the other end of the phone may ask about your concerns just enough to know who to transfer you to.  When you are transferred, you have to validate your account (again) and finally then you might get some answers. You get off the phone with your answers, but a bad taste in your mouth.  Do I really want to give THESE PEOPLE more of my money?  You're ready to call the next provider, perhaps even switch to satellite. But who has time for that?Unfortunately, many health plan members today are suffering a similar fate.

Today’s customers engage with companies through multi-channel journeys. According to Corporate Executive Board58% of callers have visited the web before calling, and 34% of callers are on the web while talking to a customer service representative.  And although many plans have extended their reach to new channels (e.g. text, click to chat, etc), very few have coordinated rollouts so that all channels share the same context of the member across them.  The net result is a disjointed experience that leaves members frustrated, affecting their trust, their confidence, and eventually loyalty to their health plan.

For every example like the one described above, there are excellent experiences that truly support omni-channel communication like USAA, which provides its members with a simple, intuitive, and personalized digital experience, but maintains a level of personalization and support when you choose to make a call. Health plan providers have to be ready as members will change, at any point,  how they choose to interact with their health plan - website, phone, chat, mobile app, email, or even in-person.  In order to be truly member-centered, plans need the systems and processes in place to integrate their customer service representatives (CSRs) into the omnichannel experience.  

A 2015 study by WDS (a Xerox company) noted that 1 in 5 calls that came into call centers worldwide were the result of a failed self-service attempt online. Plans need to evolve their digital programs and systems so that call centers already understand where and how the member has been searching for information online by the time they receive that customer’s call.  Not only will this improve the efficacy of service calls, but it will also serve to identify problem areas in the digital experience.  Our platforms can help, by presenting member-level engagement analytics in an easy-to-read digital journey view to CSRs, right inside the CRM solution. Additionally, plans must experiment with tools that help Advocates and CSRs create empathy and build trust quickly. And finally, plans must test solutions which help them measure and track cumulative experiences across multiple touch points and in multiple channels over time, including digital and telephonic.

So, where do your consumer experience programs fall on the continuum of omni-channel readiness? 

Recommendation: Regardless of your current position, or final goal, start planning now.

Step 1: Measure the success of your support workflow from the member’s point of view!

Regardless of the measurement system you’ve adopted, you must have an intimate understanding of how your support workflow is performing today.  Are you able to measure its effectiveness? Where are members successful?  Where are they failing?  Are there significant differences in channel performance?  How about cross-channel experiences?  It’s also critical that this point of view is not based on perception or opinion, but based on facts - both quantitative and qualitative. This is expressly why we designed one of our platform solutionsto be a measurement engine that not only tracks a health plan's web properties, but also their wellness, incentives and 3rd party content partner sites. 

Step 2: Incorporate a new, data-driven approach to getting the “right answer”.

It's easy to say you are member-focused and consumer-centric. But ask yourself: How is that mantra translating itself practically into your work? As you strategize about your next initiative, you must go beyond understanding what you think your members want. Instead, employ a process which involves actually asking what your members want, through research. 

At Medullan, we consider both quantitative and qualitative research as critical steps to our process of understanding the problems and developing solutions that people want to use. Our platform captures and analyzes the member engagement data to quickly pinpoint areas of existing solutions which are not working well. With those failure points identified, we use qualitative research (e.g. surveys and one-on-one interviews) to get an even deeper understanding of why something isn’t working so that we can rapidly conceptualize, develop, and test solutions.  Finally, we validate our findings with increasing population sizes to ensure that our solutions address the key issues uncovered during our initial research.  

Step 3: Anticipate needed investment and structure required, and incorporate into your 2017 planning cycle.

To meet the demands of your future member experience, you must develop a program that addresses your shortfalls in 2017.  And to get there, you must ask yourself: How well am I doing today, based on the data? Where are my biggest gaps? How far do we need to go? What needs to be done now? What can be deferred? Am I set up organizationally to ensure projects are done from a member’s point of view - across functions, silos, and teams?  What internal and external resourcing and funding will be required?

Answering these questions, either internally or with the help of your strategic partners, will help you get to the answer you need in the upcoming budget and planning cycle.

Step 4: Adopt a "Fail Fast, Succeed Faster" Mindset

If you’re moving fast and you fail - which you will - you’ll be able to move onto your next concept and begin testing right away. This “lean startup” approach helps organizations deliver value to their members more quickly than with past approaches. And for organizations with lots of work to do, an approach that values prioritization and delivers validated results fast will be the only way to ensure that you are well-positioned to meet your objectives at a competitive pace. They key is to execute on these cycles, starting now.

We will continue to see waves of digitally-enabled tools and services being offered to health plan members. However, it’s critical that when you are developing your digital roadmap for the next two years, you consider how it will actually impact your members’ experiences across channels.  Delivering modern, easy-to-use digital experiences is a worthy goal, but one poor, disjointed call to your call center can erode all of the trust that your new digital solution has accrued. Ensure that your 2017 program accounts for these potential pitfalls, keeps the member’s point of view at the center of everything you design, and takes a research-based approach to launching validated experiences for your membership. 

Written By:
Ryan Rossier
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