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Customer retention—where satisfaction and loyalty meet

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Loyalty is where it’s at.
And it’s never been more elusive.

Customer retention used to be a lot easier to come by; in some lucky cases, it seemed almost automatic. You had a good brand name, you offered good products, your customers stuck around each year for more of the same.

In 2015, lucky doesn’t happen. Health care customers in particular, from individuals to large groups, are savvier, more demanding and more comfortable broadcasting their opinions than ever.

Even more challenging, if loyalty is the name of the game, satisfying your customers isn’t good enough either. According to a recent Accenture survey of 1000 health insurance customers, four out of ten wouldn’t buy more from the very company they claim to be satisfied with.

This is no time to throw in the towel.

Health plan providers can see this trend as an intimidating obstacle or an incredibly valuable opportunity. If you tune in to your customers as individuals with unique needs and desires, they will tell you exactly how you can win their confidence and their business year after year.

Just remember, because health care is literally a matter of life and death, value trumps price in this arena, as in no other. All things being equal, and they very well may be, customers are more inclined to stay with you when you become a true advisor and health care partner, showing concern and taking ownership of their problems at a very personal level.

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Pretend you’re them. Listen when they talk. Better still, try on their flak helmets.

If there’s one lesson to be learned here, this would be the one. Taking the time to sincerely understand what your clients are going through, whether in their business or their personal lives, goes a long way toward building trusting, long-term relationships.

Consider the experience of USAA, who consistently earns outstanding customer experience and loyalty ratings.

This successful insurer places the highest priority on getting inside the hearts and minds of their military clientele. New USAA representatives attend training sessions to give them real-world experience. They receive an official-looking deployment letter just as a new recruit might. They dine on the same MREs or “meals ready to eat” that US troops consume in the field. They find out how it feels to wear a Kevlar vest and a flak helmet. In the end, they get a small sense of the very real emotions and stress a typical soldier and his or her family faces, and so they work a little harder to find more personalized, meaningful solutions.

Putting empathy into action

In faraway places like Iraq and Afghanistan, military personnel can’t count on 24/7 ATMs or branches or the mail service to handle basic banking and insurance transactions. USAA understands that, partly because of the intense customer service training all its team members receive, and also because so many of their top management and employees are former servicemen and women themselves. They introduced mobile photo-deposit technology, well before the major banks, to alleviate this issue.

“They know what it’s like,” says Staff Sergeant Core Mason, a customer who uses the quick and easy USAA iPhone app to deposit his paychecks. He’s stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky now, but that wasn’t always the case. He knows firsthand how much his former fellow troops in Iraq appreciate the special attention USAA so proudly delivers. Aware of these soldiers’ unique financial challenges in the field, the company also keeps them up to date on their bank balances via text message and offers deep discounts on their car insurance why they’re deployed overseas.

It’s not hard to imagine why these customers are such die-hard USAA loyalists.

People respond to personal attention.

The truth is as simple as that. So why not seize the opportunity this represents to build lasting loyalty in today’s extremely challenging health care environment?

Filed In: | Health plan,

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