What payers can learn from Uber

What can standing in the rain trying to hail a cab teach us about delivering better service to health plan members? Quite a bit actually.

As more consumers choose their own health plans, health insurers are looking to other industries for strategies to improve the member experience and build customer loyalty. Rather than sticking to what worked before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), payers know they need to adopt proven techniques from industries where customer loyalty has always been fickle and where digital engagement is high.

Consider the taxi business, which is being disrupted by Uber, Lyft and a number of lesser-known mobile startups that have succeeded by streamlining and simplifying the customer relationship.  These companies may serve a vastly different market, but their innovations hold the key to improving payers’ use of digital channels to engage members and build loyalty. 

Uber’s innovation: A technology-enabled focus on the consumer

We’ve all likely had the experience of standing outside at rush hour in the rain trying to hail a taxi. If we did manage to flag down a cab, there is a good chance that the car was old and the driver unfriendly. Our experience as a customer simply was not the taxi company’s priority.

This lack of quality and efficiency in the industry was largely a result of regulation: Operating a taxi required a licensed medallion, and taxi companies focused on being compliant with regulations rather than on optimizing the customer experience.  

Uber entered the scene and disrupted this status quo. By taking advantage of some regulatory loopholes, the company empowered consumers with choice and injected fresh competition into the industry. The result has been an improved consumer experience and lower prices.

Uber’s ability to challenge a century-old entrenched industry hinged on its early decision to completely reimagine how digital channels could be used to engage consumers, build loyalty and improve the consumer experience. 

Rather than fixing one aspect of the existing taxi system, say by introducing mobile payments, Uber invented an entirely new experience to make the taxi ride seamless and enjoyable across the board. And it did so primarily using digital engagement. 

The Uber app capitalizes on the ubiquity of the smartphone to significantly expand the capabilities of traditional taxi companies.  Consumers can schedule a ride anytime, anywhere without making a phone call.  They can track the car’s arrival time and location on their phone as they wait. And they can read and post reviews of their experience with a particular driver. In short, Uber uses technology to deliver ease, convenience and a superior experience to its customers.

This capability is what health insurers are looking to gain in a radically disrupted market.

Source: Managed Healthcare Executive