In the age of heightened customer expectations and widespread sharing via social media, customer experience has never been more important. Positive customer experiences have been shown to significantly boost customer loyalty, lead to an increase in customer recommendations and testimonials, and even help grow revenues. On the other side of the coin, when a customer’s experience turns sour, businesses can suffer a host of disastrous ill effects, which hurt business growth.
“Today’s consumers do not buy just products or services — more and more, their purchase decisions revolve around buying into an idea and an experience.” — McKinsey report on Customer Experiences
In today’s business climate, many customers are no longer neutral — they’re either going to be your biggest evangelists or your most outspoken detractors. Providing them with a positive experience has never been more important.
Unfortunately, insurance carriers aren’t known for making it easy for ECPs to provide a positive customer experience. Even for eye care providers (who have to contend with insurance carriers on a daily basis), it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the shifting and often confusing landscape of carriers and benefits.
Your existing and prospective patients (who don’t have nearly as much experience dealing with insurance carriers as you do) generally don’t have a fighting chance at fully understanding their vision plans. Countless patients struggle to even identify which carrier they have — Is it VSP? Humana? Blue Vision? — let alone understand the specifics of their benefits.
Bolstering the customer experience
ECPs can and should seek to improve their customers’ experience by helping them understand their benefits — even if a patient is out of network. As an ECP, your office is in the business of providing service — and today’s customers aren’t going to see a difference between you helping them choose a set of frames and you helping them understand and utilize their benefits. And your business depends on making this a positive experience.
But this can be a tricky thing to accomplish in practice. Many interactions with insurance companies can actually HURT customer experience — for both the customer you’re trying to help and the other customers who are being forced to wait in line while you’re on the phone. Sitting on hold with an out of network carrier while patients wait for you does NOT make for a good customer experience for anyone.
As with most things in life, the secret to providing a great customer experience depends on balance. Help customers understand their benefits — but don’t let it become a burden or get in the way of office productivity.
So next time you get ready to interact with a carrier on behalf of a patient, take a deep breath, exhale, and remember that customer experience is EVERYTHING.