Airlines may tweet last-minute deals or help Twitter users caught in a bind. Even some banks have started shifting customer support to social media (or at least they’re attempting to). But good luck trying to get most health insurance companies to tweet you out of an unexpected medical bill or a confusing open enrollment question.
If you’ve had any experience with a health insurance company, you won’t be surprised that the industry consistently comes in at the bottom of customer service rankings.
But as consumers get ready to buy their own health insurance on the new exchanges opening up this fall, the industry is on the verge of big-time shift. And, to compete, some say they’re going to have to step up their game when it comes to consumer engaging customers on new technology.
“The price of the product, coverage… we think those will be table stakes,” said EveryMove CEO Russell Benaroya. “I really believe that it will be metrics around personalization and connection that will make a difference in the decision-making process of the consumer.” For millennials, who could comprise about a third of the people buying insurance on the exchanges, he estimates, those engagement metrics, as well as efforts on social media and mobile, could be even more important.
To give consumers some clue as to which health plans are the most consumer-friendly, EveryMove on Tuesday rolled out its first Health Insurance Index, which ranks 100 national and regional insurance plans according how well they meet customer needs. Consumers can view a list of the top plans across the country as well as drill down by state.
EveryMove rewards users for their healthy activities by partnering with retailers, employers and health plans. So it’s in its interest to encourage the health insurance plans (i.e. potential clients) to do more to engage consumers.
But, for this index, which it plans to update quarterly, the company appears to have done a good deal of extra legwork, including recruiting a solid group of digital health experts to advise it on the ranking system, surveying its 100,000 users and conducting other independent research.
The company said it intends to add a link explaining its methodology, but, in the meantime, it told me that it evaluated plans across 50 metrics in five categories, including:
- Social media presence and performance. EveryMove catalogued the plans’ activities on networks like Facebook (s FB), YouTube (s GOOG), Twitter and Flickr.
- Mobile. It considered whether plans have mobile-optimized sites and platform-specific applications.
- Web statistics. The startup used web analytics to determine the popularity and freshness of plan’s web content.
- Customer support. It looked at how easy it is to find contact information for the health plans, how many customer service reps are available to consumers and whether they’re available on SMS, chat and other channels.
- Consumer perception of engagement. The startup asked its users for feedback and opinions on their experiences with the plans.
Other resources, like U.S. News and World Report and Consumer Reports, offer more comprehensive and in-depth rankings on health plans, but this index gives another interesting window into the customer service piece. It also follows a new guide to the insurance marketplaces, which included a ranking of health plans, released by ZocDoc earlier this month.
Image by MelvinDyson via Shutterstock.