All Enrollees Are Not Created Equal: The benefits enrollment challenge

July 17, 2014 Marijah Adams Cleek

When you walk into a retail store, there are endless options that fit different styles or needs. Why?

Because all people are not created equally. Well, all people aren’t the same, at least. And thank the stars for that. For decades, companies like Target or JC Penny have spent a lot of time and money trying to get an array of customers to walk through their doors.

Insurance companies have done the same thing. They offer a plethora of plans, from low deductible plans with full coverage options to high deductible plans with low coverage options and everything in between, but the audience they targeted was a bit different.

Before the ACA kicked in, insurance companies relied heavily on employers to make the selections for their employees. Only a small percentage of individuals would come looking for plans without an employer.

Now the tables have turned, the baton rests in the hands of those very consumers  – the individuals who are purchasing insurance for the first time in the history of ever, those having the option to explore the marketplace via consumer-directed health plans, or people picking new plans because their old ones have been discontinued.

And consumers want it all: the premium experience with a wide variety of options. And they demand your best because if you won’t give it to them, they’ll find someone who will while wearing a smile and meeting each expectation. So, how will you go about wooing them?

Fertilizer? Check. Grass Seed? Check. Love for Nurturing? Check.

Everybody knows that the grass is greener on whatever side of the fence you’re standing on. If it weren’t, you wouldn’t be standing there. Now, all you need to do is get everyone else to see your amazing field and come join you.

If you frollick, they will come.

And there’s a pretty simple way to do that: look at the whole customer experience. The customer experience can’t be fragmented because customers are present for the whole ride. So it’s your job to make the whole ride fun.

Gaining consumers is a mad competition, a cutthroat one at that. People have the means and ability to connect with other consumers to find out who is getting the five star reviews, why those companies or providers are excelling in the eyes of their peers, and what the best product they have to offer is. All of this is practically becoming a science, regularly used by individuals looking to buy just about any goods or service online.

When it comes to health plan/benefits enrollment optimization (or enrollment optimization in any industry), you have to consider what you’re going to do to stand apart from the rest and make the consumers’ jaws hit the floor. Because that array of health insurance plan options that I mentioned earlier, they’re nearly identical across the provider spectrum.

So it’s not the plans that are going to drive enrollment with your company, it’s the mind-blowing customer experience you provide that will win their hearts over.

The Customer Experience Nightmare

Imagine yourself walking into a very big store that sells very complex products. Periodically you stroll past an isle that has an informational guide stuck up on it, but the material is very hard to understand. You pull out your phone for a quick Google search, but it only turns up page after page of more complex and hard to understand information.

You begin looking around for a sales representative to explain the information, but nobody is there. Instead, there’s a sign that says, “Contact Us” with a phone number. So you call, but you’re not very happy about it. Negative emotions start flooding your brain, and you begin questioning if this is the company you really want to give your money to.

What was supposed to be a quick trip to the store is turning into a nightmare. You can’t find prompt help; you don’t understand the product being sold; and you would just leave, except you need this product. You have no other option but to purchase this product, and you just want someone, anyone, to help you out.

This is how many people view buying insurance.

It’s often not fun for them. Even if they used to understand it, the ACA has turned it into a totally different ballgame. Conveniently, it’s not the job of the consumer to memorize all of the changes; it’s their job to make the purchase. The responsibility of passing the information along is your job.

And they’re looking to you for answers, no doubt. But remember what I said earlier: if you can’t provide them with the service and answers that they seek, they will leave and find another company that can. To quote Peep Laja, “Every single customer experience is your moment of truth… Think of the website as an experience, not a collection of pages.2

One More Thing Before I Go…

Over the next three weeks, I will be diving into the topic of improving enrollment optimization. I hope you will join me.

Before I go, I pose these questions to you: How are you enhancing the “whole” customer experience? How are you driving your enrollment optimization to put yourself ahead of the rest?

I want to hear what you all are doing to keep the customer experience alive and well within your organization.

If you like what you saw here, check out the rest of this blog series:

1 VoucherCloud. “Consumer Psychology & the E-Commerce Check Out.” http://wallblog.co.uk/2014/01/15/infographic-consumer-psychology-and-the-e-commerce-checkout/

2 Laja, Peep. “Think About Customer Experience, Not Just Conversion Optimization.” http://conversionxl.com/think-about-customer-experience-not-just-conversion-optimization/#.

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