Session examines challenges as insurers gear up for consumer sales

Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor

As more individuals, as opposed to group employers who might bring with them hundreds of employees, enter the insurance market in search of individual policies, health plans are going to have to figure out how to sell to them.

Today, attendees at the AHIP Institute 2012 in Salt Lake City, will get a look at some of the steps health plans should be ready to take. In “Building Brand Loyalty: Reinventing Your Consumer Approach,” Lindsay Resnick, chief marketing officer for the KBM Group, will describe what health plans need to do to build and sustain a customer friendly brand.

As Resnick puts it, traditionally, healthcare insurance “was a market anchored in group purchase”. Now, “because of healthcare reform, and because of the shift in ‘the customer journey’ – meaning the way customers buy things – we’re now moving toward the retailization of healthcare.”

More than ever, he says, health plans are going to “have to understand who the customer is and how (they) perceive brand.”  In his presentation, Resnick will spend time talking about how insurance marketing is changing, how insurance companies are going to have learn how to deal with more engaged customers, and how to “shift to an integrated approach where having a dialogue with customers is much more important.”

He notes that in recent surveys, health insurance companies rank behind credit card companies and airlines when it comes to their customer experience, and he’ll take a look at what health insurance plans can learn from companies like Amazon.

Of course, the need to adapt goes both ways, as Resnick predicts the rise of health insurance exchanges will result in more employers deciding to shift from offering their employees insurance to simply giving them money to find insurance on their own. And not surprisingly, who will consumers be looking to in order to understand their options but, among others, the very insurance companies they’re trying to decide between. 

Consequently, health plans that are ready and able to engage consumers one-on-one will have the chance to educate and, ideally, gain new customers. To do that, though, they’ll need to understand how to use data and analytics to get a “360 degree view of the consumer,” determine how to develop and sustain their brand, and, in general, develop a “higher touch, better branded consumer experience.”

But while there’s a lot health plans need to do, and many are weak when it comes to their customer experience, Resnick says that insurance companies don’t rate so poorly when it comes to trust.

In short, he says, “they just need to up their game a bit.”


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