Health Plans Fail On Customer Experience

Forrester’s 2010 Customer Experience Index (CxPi) ranks 133 firms across 14 industries. I recently analyzed the results of the nine health plans in the CxPi. Here are the overall results:

Some interesting tidbits from the research:

  • Health plans were the worst scoring industry for the third straight year.
  • The average score across health plans was the same as it was in 2008, a “very poor” 51%.
  • Kaiser was in top place again, although it dropped a bit from 2008.
  • The public plans, Medicare and Medicaid, had the largest improvement.
  • Anthem (BCBS) and United Healthcare dropped the most since 2008.

The bottom line: Health plan customer experience needs resuscitation.

Customer Service Is The Worst Touchpoint

I recently published a report called Experiences Across the Customer Lifecycle that examines how satisfied US consumers are with four interactions (researching a product/service, purchasing a product/service, using a product/service, getting customer service) across 14 industries.

In 12 of the 14 industries, customer service was the lowest (or tied for lowest) rated interaction. Across all four touchpoints, hotels are at the top and health plans are at the bottom. Here are some of the highlights from the analysis:

I also examined how consumers rated individual companies. Here’s a shout-out to the companies that outperformed their industry averages by more than 10 percentage points:

  • Researching a product/service: Credit unions, American Express, AT&T, DirecTV, USAA, Amazon.com, Verizon, and Barnes & Noble.
  • Purchasing a product/service: Credit unions, American Express, Medicare, Vanguard, Visa, Apple, Aol, Southwest Airlines, and ING Direct.
  • Using a product/service: Credit unions, Apple, Medicare, USAA, and Toshiba.
  • Getting customer service: Credit unions, Kaiser, Apple, Cox Communications, American Express, Visa, USAA, Barnes & Noble, Marriott, Kohl’s, Southwest Airlines, and Verizon.

The bottom line: The entire customer lifecycle needs and upgrade, especially customer service.

Which Companies Do Consumers Recommend The Most?

I recently published a research report called Consumers’ Likelihood To Recommend 133 Firms that examines how loyal consumers are to 133 firms across 14 industries (the same firms that are in the 2010 Customer Experience Index). Based on surveying more than 4,600 US consumers, I created a metric called Net Recommendations*.

Here are the top 10 firms and their Net Recommendations rates:

  • Barnes & Noble (86%)
  • Amazon (81%)
  • eBay (81%)
  • Vanguard (79%)
  • Kohl’s (79%)
  • USAA (78%)
  • Apple (77%)
  • BJs Wholesale Club (76%)
  • Marriott Hotels & Resorts (75%)
  • Costco (75%)

To get a more complete picture of which firms are generating loyal customers, I compared the Net Recommendations score for each company to its industry average. The top five on the list are credit unions, Sun Trust Bank, JetBlue, Vanguard, and Kaiser.  Here are the 25 firms that were 10 points or more above their peers:

 

 

*Net Recommendations: We asked consumers how likely they were to recommend firms to a friend or colleague on a 5-point scale from (1) not at all likely to (5) very likely. To create the Net Recommendations score, we took the percentage of consumers who gave the company a “4″ or “5″ and subtracted the percentage of consumers that gave the company a “1″ or “2.”

The bottom line: Does your business generate enough recommendations?

Barnes & Noble, Kohl’s, and Marriott Top Customer Service Ratings

In a new report called Rating Customer Service Experiences, 2010, I analyzed how 4,600+ US consumers rated their customer service experiences with 92 large companies across 14 industries. Led by Barnes & Noble, Kohl’s, and Marriott, 24 companies received a Net Satisfaction Score* of 80% or higher.

At the other end of the spectrum, 10 firms had Net Satisfaction Scores below 50%: Charter Communications, Comcast, Washington Mutual, United Healthcare, Aetna, Citigroup, AOL, HSBC, Bank of America, and Capital One.

The absolute scores tell only a part of the story. We also compared the customer service rating for each company with the average for its industry. It turns out that credit unions, Kaiser, and Apple led 25 firms that were five or more percentage points above their peers.

At the other end of the spectrum, 11 firms fell more than 10 percentage points below their industry average: Washington Mutual, Charter Communications, Bank of America, Citigroup, HSBC, United Healthcare, JP Morgan Chase, Aetna, Capital One, United Airlines, and Office Depot.

I also examined the ratings given by different generations of consumers. In 10 of the 14 industries, Seniors were the most satisfied with customer service. For nine of the industries, Gen Y were the least satisfied.

*Net Satisfaction Score: We asked consumers to rate their customer service experiences on a 5-point satisfaction scale. To create the Net Satisfaction Score, we took the percentage of consumers who gave the company a “4” or “5” and subtracted the percentage of consumers that gave the company a “1” or “2.”

The bottom line: Focus on customer service in 2010.

Health Plans Deliver The WORST Experience

In Forrester’s 2008 Customer Experience Index (CxPi), we ranked 113 companies across 12 industries. I recently published a snapshot of the health plan industry looking at the results from the eight plans on the list (Aetna, Anthem (BCBS), CIGNA, Kaiser, Medicaid, Medicare, TriCare, and United Healthcare). Here’s some of what we found:

  • Experiences are “very poor” and getting worse. As a group, the eight health plans ended up with a “very poor” rating of 51%; the lowest score of any of the 12 industries we examined. Making matters worse, the industry dropped three percentage points from the 2007 CxPi results. 
  • Kaiser led the pack. With an “okay” score of 70%, Kaiser led all health plans. All of the other plans ended up with ratings of either “poor” or “very poor.”
  • Medicaid is as bad as it gets. With a terrible rating of 38%, Medicaid was the lowest scoring plan. It also ended up in next to last place across all 113 organizations in our rankings.
  • Only Kaiser improved. When we compared the 2008 results with those from 2007, only Kaiser showed an improvement. CIGNA and Medicaid, on the other hand, declined the most.
  • Some big shifts in CxPi components. There were five double-digit changes in the scores for the three underlying elements of the CxPi: Kaiser’s improvement in being easy to work with and enjoyability, Anthem’s decline in enjoyability, and both CIGNA’s and Medicaid’s drop in being easy to work with.

The bottom line: Put customer experience on the health care reform agenda

Retailers Lead, TV Service Providers Lag In Loyalty

I just published research called How Loyal Are Consumers? Not Very that examines the loyalty that consumers have with 113 large firms across 12 industries: airlines, banks, cell phone service providers, credit card providers, hotels, insurance firms, Internet service providers, investment firms, medical insurance companies, PC manufacturers, retailers, and TV service providers.

We asked 4,500+ US consumers about three areas of loyalty:

  1. Willingness to consider the provider for another purchase
  2. Reluctance to switch business away from the provider
  3. Likelihood to recommend the provider to a friend or colleague

Here are some of the industry-level findings (in terms of the percentage of loyal customers):

  • Willingness-to-repurchase
    • Leaders: Retailers (89%) and Insurers (82%)
    • Laggards: TV Service Providers (69%) and ISPs (73%)
  • Reluctance-to-switch 
    • Leaders: Retailers (80%) and Investment Firms (73%)
    • Laggards: Airlines (62%) and TV Service Providers (63%) 
  • Likelihood-to-recommend 
    • Leaders: Retailers (81%) and Insurers (75%)
    • Laggards: TV Service Providers (59%) and Health Plans (60%)

Here are some of the company findings (ranked relative to their industry averages): 

  • Willingness-to-repurchase
    • Leaders: USAA credit cards (+24%), Southwest Airlines (+13%), and credit unions banking (+13%) 
    • Laggards: US Airways (-18%), Sprint (-16%), and RadioShack (-13%)
  • Reluctance-to-switch 
    • Leaders: USAA credit cards (+20%), Apple (+19%), and Hampton Inn (+18%)
    • Laggards: US Airways (-18%), Sprint (-16%), RadioShack (-15%), and Washington Mutual banking (-15%)
  • Likelihood-to-recommend 
    • Leaders: USAA credit cards (+26%), Kaiser (+17%), and Southwest Airlines (+17%)
    • Laggards: US Airways (-18%), Compaq (-17%), and RadioShack (-16%)

The bottom line: What are you doing to make your customers more loyal?

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