NTT DATA Services released on Monday its latest Customer Friction Factor (CFF) assessment. The new study examined digital customer service transactions in the health insurance industry, specifically grading insurers as Leaders or Laggards based on how easy or difficult it was for Baby Boomers to shop for Medicare Advantage plans online.
Of the 42 health plans analyzed, the Blue Cross Blue Shield plans for Alabama, Northeastern New York and Western New York ranked highest with the least amount of customer friction, earning scores in customer engagement and transaction process.
The study revealed that 71 percent of all friction was associated with transaction process (43 percent) and engagement (28 percent); 70 percent of Leaders provided two-step navigation to eligibility information, while Laggards introduced more complexity to the process to accomplish the same goal, leading to increased average times online to complete a transaction; and 66 percent of Leaders used common internet shopping tools, such as geolocation, to automatically provide plan coverage comparison, allowing customers to see only those plans for which they are eligible.
It also showed that 82 percent of health plans created confusion or difficulty when the stated number of steps for enrollment were not actually accounted for and a major friction factor included forced interactions across multiple sites and screen refreshes (up to 32 seconds), and 88 percent of health plans did not provide the same experience (format and design) across transactions, creating a disjointed journey and potentially forcing the customer to call the health plan, increasing customer friction and health plan cost.
The comprehensive study examined all 36 Blue Cross Blue Shield plans and six additional health insurers offering Medicare Advantage plans, including Aetna and United Healthcare. The insurers were measured across various friction points in the online enrollment process including a customer’s ability to check Medicare Advantage eligibility, review plan information, shop available plans and enroll.
The insurers that scored poorly introduced complexity and used multiple steps in the transaction process to accomplish the same goal as the leading plans. This complexity increased the average time consumers spent online, decreasing customer satisfaction, which could ultimately affect Medicare Advantage reimbursement rates.
“Customer experience should be a top priority for health plans to improve online enrollments,” said Shashi Yadiki, president, health plans, NTT DATA Services. “Health plans must think like the customer, consider what they want next and offer it before they ask. The findings in this study highlight why health plans must transform the digital experience to eliminate confusion in the enrollment process and serve customers best.”
NTT DATA Services’ unique approach to helping companies eliminate customer friction and accelerate digital experiences includes a two-pronged approach. First, a CFF assessment provides a deep analysis of quantifiable friction points and identifies appropriate recommendations with an actionable plan. Second, it helps organizations identify transformational solutions, enabling them to continually improve their customer experience by monitoring, measuring and reporting on success across key performance indicators – even as systems and stakeholders change.
“At NTT DATA Services, we deliver insights that allow healthcare organizations to eliminate points of friction and better serve their customers, which leads to improved loyalty and an improved bottom line,” Yadiki said. “By identifying things the leaders do well, such as geo-location and two-step navigation, health plans can begin to reduce unnecessary friction points in the digital experience.”