At a time when Americans are reporting lower satisfaction with their health insurers, nonprofit health plan Blue Shield of California is bucking the trend, according to Forrester Research Inc.
On June 19, Forrester published its annual ranking of the major health insurance companies, known as The U.S. Health Insurers Customer Experience Index. It found customer experience in the healthcare industry has been steadily declining, falling by 1.8 percentage points to 63.9 from 65.7 since 2015. During the same time, Blue Shield of California increased its score by 1.9 percentage points to 63.6 from 61.7, reflecting the organization’s efforts to improve the experience for its 4 million members.
How was Blue Shield able to trend higher when customer experience across the country continues to slip? One key factor is Blue Shield’s substantial investment in digital customer experience, such as the member website and mobile app. In recent years, updates to the Blue Shield of California app for iPhone have resulted in a customer rating of 4.7 stars out of five in Apple’s App Store. Creating satisfying, digital self-service options for members has reduced call volumes and wait times in the call centers. As a result, customer service representatives now spend more time with members over the phone and are better able to resolve issues in real time.
This year’s Forrester data shows these efforts have made a difference. Blue Shield’s scores on questions regarding website, mobile app and call center experiences for 2018 are between 2 and 4 percentage points higher than the industry average in these areas.
It’s progress, but Blue Shield must continue to invest and revamp, according to Shayna Schulz, vice president of customer experience operations. “We continue to invest in our frontline teams and their ability to provide personalized service to our members. We are also enhancing our digital assets to make them even more intuitive, friendly and helpful.” Schulz added, “And we’re listening to our customers – they know the parts of the system that bring down their experience, and they can tell us where we need to focus our improvement efforts.”
By improving call center performance, delivering digital and self-service options and being responsive to member concerns, Blue Shield of California hopes to build long-lasting relationships with its customers and become its members’ trusted advisor.