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January 15, 2018
By: Loren McCaghy

Next-generation HIX winners will put customer service first

For the past three years, Accenture has tracked a worrying trend among health insurance exchange (HIX) customers: millennials reporting a decline in service satisfaction.

Eighty percent of millennial HIX customers agreed in 2017 with the statement “I had great customer service when I had a question or issue,” down from 86 percent reporting such satisfaction in 2015. The survey also shows slippage in millennials understanding how much they will pay out of pocket for healthcare: 83 percent then; 74 percent now.

Has the marketplace actually gotten worse at working with millennials? On the contrary, I see payers and insurance exchanges pushing toward positive change; just not enough to close a yawning gap between consumer expectations and market realities. 

How can players in the HIX arena deliver the service millennial consumers say they expect?

Focus on delivering simple answers up-front: Millennials want fast answers to basic questions. If they can find a way to easily get those answers themselves, they will use it. Payers and exchanges should aim to deliver with online platforms that anticipate answers to simple questions like “Can I get an ID card?” or “Is this covered?”

This allows tight administrative resources to be adjusted toward facilitating customer assistance where it is most needed. Millennials employ online channels like social media when beginning their market research, but they still value direct communication for help in making such a critical decision.

Provide a more concierge-like model to support purchasing: When it comes to complex decisions like selecting a health plan to purchase, millennials increasingly look for live assistance. In our 2017 survey, 71 percent of millennials said they needed more help from a service representative to finalize their plan selection, versus 67 percent in our 2015 survey.

Such assistance requires special handling from a shopping model that focuses more on empathy and less on completing a transaction. Millennials who call want to get their question answered the first time. Payers and exchanges should train and equip service representatives to deliver that.

Know the millennial customer: Those who achieve success in the HIX marketplace will connect with millennials accustomed to instant gratification from their service dealings with other industries. Millennials are used to researching and making major purchases via a mobile device. Payer and HIX mobile offerings must be aimed at empowering mobile consumers, not just reaching out to them.

There is a perception that millennials are totally price-oriented, and a related lack of appreciation for how poor service experience can affect somebody’s choice the next time they have an option to buy. To win millennials, payers and health insurance exchanges should focus on delivering the strong service experience millennials want and expect.

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