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3 Ways Health Insurance Companies are Driving Member Loyalty


As healthcare consumerism gains steam, “customer” loyalty is a necessity. But as Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The New York Times best sellers The Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of Selling has said, “You don’t earn loyalty in a day. You earn loyalty day-by-day.” I have to agree with Mr. Gitomer; during my career at Procter & Gamble, we did a lot of market research on customer loyalty, and the “code” for loyalty is knowing that one always has your back and is always there when needed.

A survey conducted by Accenture found
that 26 percent of health insurance customers reported no loyalty at all to their insurer.

Compounding the challenge for health insurance companies is the fact that few people want to shop for health insurance plans—unlike shoes, cars or any of the many devices that consumers crave—making it far more difficult to win fans. In fact, TeleTech reports that a survey conducted by Accenture found 26 percent of health insurance customers reported no loyalty at all to their insurer. Yet despite the demands of a complex healthcare reform landscape, some health insurance companies have gathered the consumer insights they need to drive member loyalty.


▶ Effective Tactics for Winning—and Keeping—Your Members

The most important factor in attracting health insurance plan members is understanding who they are, but you have to go beyond defining them by demographics, socioeconomics or diagnoses. Psychographic segmentation can help, especially a segmentation model that captures the beliefs, attitudes and motivations consumers have toward health and wellness. These psychographic insights can be used to influence current and prospective member behaviors.

As we noted in our recent blog series, our five psychographic segments—Balance Seekers, Willful Endurers, Self-Achievers, Priority Jugglers and Direction Takers—have different outlooks and concerns when it comes to health insurance, and your health insurance marketing needs to address those varying mindsets to improve engagement. These insights, when combined with the right tactics, can help you make the right connections.


>So what else is working?


1. Health Insurance Loyalty Programs

Kaiser Permanente exceeds expectations, earning a customer loyalty ranking that is nearly 2.5 times higher than the industry average. The reason? Health-Insurance-Vector-Crop.jpgIn addition to an overall positive healthcare experience, members cited specifics, such as “acts in my best interest” and “treats customers fairly.” 

A health insurance loyalty program needs to do more than just reward members for every transaction. While a “Buy five, get the sixth one free” reward may be attractive to a pet owner buying dog food, healthcare consumers want more; they want better health outcomes. By developing loyalty programs that speak to this desire—and encourage healthy behaviors—health insurance companies can win on two fronts: As health outcomes improve for individual members, they win greater loyalty while reducing the costs of healthcare. Different psychographic segments place a greater emphasis on health behavior incentives and penalties, and the types of incentives preferred also vary among the psychographic segments.

2. Personalized Experiences

Health insurance marketing also needs to go beyond standard personalization. Today’s savvy consumers expect a lot more than an email that addresses them by first name or a package that has a brochure about their presumed health condition. In the digital world, marketers have a huge volume of personal data at their fingertips—and consumer know it. Nothing is more off-putting than receiving a brochure on living with diabetes after one poor blood sugar reading caused when a patient accidentally drank a coffee before remembering the doctor’s appointment, even if they opted into a program to receive such communications.

“Member expectations have changed and we’re trying to apply best practices not only from healthcare, but also from other industries like banking and retail.”

CareSource, a health insurance plan provider serving more than 1.4 million members in Ohio, recognizes the importance of both personalization and loyalty programs. It is undertaking 360-degree customer engagement program that tracks member engagement with programs and adapts its communication channels based on their behaviors so that it can “better meet our customers’ preferences so that we can engage effectively with them without being abrasive.” It also offers a variety of loyalty programs geared to individual member needs, such as a program for expectant mothers that allows them to earn points by completing tasks that can then be exchanged for a $150 rewards card.


3. Using Technology to Stay Connected with Members

CareSource is also considering the use of mobile apps based on their members’ attitudes and behaviors. And this health insurance company isn’t the only one leveraging the mobile technologies that today’s healthcare consumers expect. After Fallon Health collaborated with Forrester Research to better understand consumer expectations, they realized that member expectations for health insurance plans are colored by experiences with retail leaders like Amazon. 

Peter Atkins, director of market research and planning at the Massachusetts health insurer, says, “Member expectations have changed and we’re trying to apply best practices not only from healthcare, but also from other industries like banking and retail.” Not only can members access their ID cards via a mobile app, but they can also go to retail centers to join in a yoga class, get their blood pressure taken or talk with advisors about their health insurance plans. These types of innovative approaches to member engagement are particularly important as health insurance companies target digital natives like Millennials.


Marketing consultant Roy H. Williams says, “The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.” And the next step, is developing health insurance marketing and plans that speak to healthcare consumers’ distinct attitudes towards health and wellness and embrace the most effective tactics for driving loyalty—no matter what industry they come from.


Brent Walker will be be speaking on a panel about trends and opportunities in healthcare consumerism at the BRG Healthcare Leadership Conference, taking place Dec. 12-14 in Washington, D.C. Click here for more information.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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