How Payers Can Win the Hearts, Minds, and Health of Millennials

By Mandeep Singh Kwatra, VP, HGS Solutions and Capabilities and CX Strategy Services Leader

Austin Ridgeway, Director of Sales Support and Business Development, HGS Healthcare

Everyone wants a piece of the millennial generation $200 billion in annual buying power, but that is easier said than done. An entire cottage industry of influencers and experts is steadily churning out increasingly complicated, confusing, and conflicting strategies for finding the elusive pot of gold at the end of a rainbow born sometime between 1980 and 2000.

According to a 2016 Accenture survey of 6,000 global consumers, millennials, more than other generations, are using online channels to become better-informed customers, and desire an integrated, seamless shopping experience. A 2014 poll by Gallup indicated that millennials are more likely to buy health insurance online—27% vs 11%—than all other generations. Unfortunately, Gallup also noted that millennials are the least satisfied with the experience of purchasing health insurance online.

Vendors in myriad service verticals have invested deeply in multi-channel and engagement technology, but many fail to properly integrate their engagement and personalization capabilities. Millennials aren't necessarily loyal to the companies with the best or most communication and service technology. The modern retail and service landscape, forged by the likes of Amazon, Uber, assorted financial services, and others, offers an experience that is highly personalized, includes multiple touchpoints to meet the consumer where they are, and is equipped with a strategic mix of self-service and live-agent options.

In essence, IT alone is not going to successfully capture the attention and loyalty of this—or any other—generation. Health insurance organizations need to leverage operations and technology to provide members with optimized digital customer service (CX), leveraging web, chat, text, analytics, automation, and artificial intelligence. The seamless integration of these features transforms traditional customer experiences into new, lasting and meaningful connections with current and prospective customers.

Today's consumers—millennials marginally more than others—don't want to have to climb a company's phone tree for more information. They want access to real-time information online. A customer who has no problem texting with a vendor for an hour, may give up in frustration if they're put on hold for 10 minutes.

Health plans are starting to wake up to this trend—some are even tapping the customer experience as a business metric. An intensely loyal member is an advocate who creates the perception of reliability and credibility in the marketplace.

Changing landscape
Of course, the mere presence of millennials alone didn't upend the health insurance status quo. That was more a result of changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the resulting transition toward value-based care.

Pre-ACA, the focus was almost exclusively on groups. Today, with millions more Americans now eligible for health insurance, and even employers driving their employees toward the exchanges, there is a fundamental shift in the way health insurance is being purchased. The establishment of marketplaces has made it easy for individuals and small businesses to compare standardized coverage options, placing unprecedented power in the hands of healthcare consumers. It has also made it easy for them to change plans the next year if they are not happy, placing more pressure on payers to develop strategies and employ technologies to improve loyalty and retention.

Driving engagement
Payers must understand that millennials switch channels based on convenience, and they expect the next channel they choose to allow them to start where they left off on the previous channel. They also expect the use of responsive design to ensure that a brand's website or portal is optimized no matter what device or screen size they use.

Simply put, payers should be prepared to meet member needs with self-service channels that help members get the right answer quickly. They must provide multiple channels with cross-channel integration, and the service must be consistent, quick, proactive, guided by preferences, available on multiple channels and focused on optimizing the customer experience.

Making the leap
Getting there may be challenging given the aging core systems many payers continue to use. Keeping up with the demands of millennials and others will require a cloud-based platform integrated into business process outsourcing (BPO) services.

According to Gallup, millennials prized "offering services online" (40%); "ease of navigating the website" (34%); and "finding answers to insurance questions" (35%).

The total solution must go beyond the member-facing channels to also provide integration with the enterprise customer relationship management (CRM) platform, to deliver a completely seamless experience between self-service portals and live agents

From an operations perspective, such a platform would facilitate streamlined health plan setup, claims administration, and member lifecycle management. All member participation information could be captured in a CRM system that integrates with multiple back-end systems to inform and accelerate the sales process while facilitating loyalty.

Back-office agents could leverage the data captured within the platform to provide suggestions on how to:

  • Balance member costs per month with the best possible outcome.
  • Quickly and automatically adjudicate and pay claims.
  • Conduct root-cause analysis before a new plan is implemented.
  • Proactively look for claims-related savings opportunities and initiate recovery.
  • Make the entire end-to-end process more efficient and accurate.

Payers that embrace digital transformation of this magnitude will achieve substantial efficiency improvements in acquiring new members and providing services over the course of the customer lifecycle.

Millennials are a market force to be reckoned with, not just for their sheer size but also for their different view of how the world should work.

The payers who recognize this and develop their strategies and technologies to match these expectations will be in the best position to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of this generation—not just today, or for a year, but for many years to come.

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