Trust Me: Using Customer Experience to Build Health Care Relationships

Whether you work in consumer goods, tech or health care – frankly, any industry – having the trust of your customers/buyers/members is critically important. Think of it as a savings account – making regular deposits of trust-building interactions helps the relationship grow. And at the most fundamental level, when someone trusts you, it’s more likely they’ll do business with you – and continue to do so. It’s a matter of the bottom line.

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer delivers some surprising insights about trust in health care. Researchers looked at five subsectors in the health care industry – hospitals/clinics, biotech/life sciences, insurance, consumer health and pharmaceuticals. The insurance market fell smack in the middle when it came to trust rankings, falling short of hospitals/clinics and biotech/life sciences but beating out consumer health and pharma. Susan Isenberg from Edelman penned an interesting take on the widening health care trust divide highlighted in the barometer.

HealthSparq recently partnered with customer experience expert Megan Burns to share trust-building insights and tips with health plans. Megan has spent the last 20 years studying how companies like USAA, Amazon and FedEx use experience to create loyal customers and gain a powerful competitive advantage. She has a wealth of knowledge about trust – both how it’s built and eroded.

All is not lost for health plans and I invite you to watch the replay of our webinar with Megan. Consumers (and employer groups) are looking to plans to help them navigate an ever-more complex health care system. Here are some suggestions for how you can build trust with members.

MAKE YOUR CHANNELS OF INFORMATION MATCH

The information you share across your websites, email and other channels like customer service should all be consistent and provide your members the same details. Consistency between and across channels is the most elemental trust-building a plan can do.

AVOID HEALTH CARE JARGON

Health plans are improving in this area, but there is still a lot of room for increasing use of plain language. Avoid industry acronyms, phrases and terminology that people do not—and will not—understand.

SHARE EXPECTED COSTS AND MAKE THEM PERSONAL

People want more information about health care costs. In fact, our research shows that 75% of people say cost information from their health plan is highly useful to them – even more useful that health care cost information from their provider or hospital. We suggest that health plans use their own claims data to provide personalized out-of-pocket estimates in an easy-to-access location on your website.

CHECK YOUR CALLS TO ACTION

Make sure that calls to action (CTAs) on your websites and emails are clear, simple and take users where they expect to be taken. We also recommend using the same terminology in all of the CTAs on your websites and emails in order to avoid confusing your members.

PROVIDE A HUMAN TOUCH TO A DIGITAL EXPERIENCE

Not every task members need to complete can or should be self-service. Why? Because nothing is more personal – and potentially stressful – than our health. Make sure you have human, empathetic touch points for members to reaffirm that they can trust you to be there when they need your help most.

COMMUNICATE MORE OFTEN

Perhaps a little unexpected, but our research has shown that people have greater trust of their health plan when they hear from you more often! The more you communicate with your members, the more familiar and trustworthy you become.

GIVE MEMBERS MORE CONTROL

People want to feel in control. Consider adding more tasks to your site that members can accomplish online such as selecting favorite providers or sharing their care or communications preferences. Offering more control can improve their experience with your company, but, if you ask for information, be sure to use it wisely.

SIGNAL AWARENESS OF THE SITUATION

When people interact with you across channels show you know them. Is someone calling your call center just after receiving an email? Acknowledge this. Provide consistency in your interactions—especially online.

The stakes are high in health care, for good reason. Just remember that each and every touch point can impact consumer trust. I’ll add that “treat people like you want to be treated” certainly isn’t always easy in a business-to-person relationship. But working toward this in all our interactions with customers will be rewarded. Trust me!