6 Ways Payers Can Improve Open Enrollment Customer Support

With rising healthcare costs and plan options growing more complex, healthcare subscribers are looking for easy, simple answers to the questions they ask open enrollment customer support every year. When their favorite retail and tech brands offer expanded and proactive customer service, they expect the same qualities from their health plan providers.

To stay competitive, it’s imperative that healthcare companies rise to meet this challenge. Try out these tips to delight new and existing members with friendly, efficient service they can expect all year round.

  1. Change the way you think about open enrollment

Instead of thinking of open enrollment as your busiest time of year, think of it as your first impression. To members, especially new ones, your support during open enrollment sets their expectations for the rest of the year. A frustrating or poor first impression carries over to their next interaction, and research shows that it takes 12 positive customer service experiences to make up for one bad one.

  1. Appeal to millennials

Keeping millennials happy is essential for long-term growth. Not only are they a powerful (and younger) purchasing segment, but they have an unprecedented influence on others’ purchasing decisions—including their parents and social media followers. Plus, millennials are twice as likely than any other generation to act on advice they find online, according to the Healthcare Finance Administration (HFA), and they place reputation above all other selection criteria.

  1. Personalize the experience

Predictive technologies can help you use customer data to transform and elevate the customer experience, particularly in self-service instances. Integrating these technologies with your website, they can customize an individual’s visit by offering up other relevant information based on the customer’s clicks, scrolls, and search terms. Minimize someone’s research efforts and you’ve made them very happy. It might even prevent a lengthy call to your open enrollment customer support line.

  1. Update your IVR

Often, an IVR’s routing tree looks great from above at an operational level, but when you get on the caller’s level, cracks in functionality and experience appear. A big offender? Lingo-heavy menus and self-identifying options that your average customer, especially someone seeking coverage for the first time, doesn’t understand. This leads to a high volume of poorly-routed calls that your busy agents have to then re-route. Then, your customer gets put on hold again waiting for the correct department. It’s not efficient and it doesn’t delight.

A good IVR should be designed for easy use by your most novice caller. Reduce customer effort by using simple, layman’s terms when you can and always make it easy for callers to reach a live representative.

  1. Forecast and staff up

Everybody agrees that healthcare is complicated and waiting on hold is frustrating. Ensuring callers get the accurate information they need in a timely manner means scaling your staffing to accommodate peak call volume times. Invest in workforce technologies that help you forecast needs so you can recruit and hire beforehand.

Or, if you need a little help without incurring all that additional overhead, consider outsourcing. Whether you need temporary help to manage a high call volume or longer-term assistance, you can onboard a reputable call center partner in as little as 30 days.

  1. Compliance refresher

More calls mean a greater chance of compliance slip-ups or infractions. Before open enrollment comes, provide refresher compliance training to your internal customer support staff (and external vendors, too). Ensure everyone understands the importance of compliance, especially HIPAA, and how agents should speak to callers with compassion and patience when discussing private and very sensitive health information.

Delivering poor customer support, especially during open enrollment, can wreak havoc on your customer lifecycle, strangling lifetime value and creating deeper revenue and retention issues for your team and company down the line. Show members at the start of their engagement that you value and respect their time and you’ll build the foundation for a long and mutually-beneficial relationship.

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