Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the number one health insurer in Michigan. Since its founding 80 years ago, the company has transformed into a nonprofit mutual that insures more than 4.5 million lives in Michigan and over 1.6 million across the United States.
Within that membership, Blue Cross has a dedicated team that develops, markets, and sells health insurance plans to individuals who do not have coverage from their employer. The Individual Business Unit insures about 183,000 lives or roughly 5% of the total membership for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Despite its smaller membership size, the team has been able to contribute significantly to Blue Cross’ overall performance. In fact, in 2018, the team was responsible for driving 40% of the company’s overall margin.
The individual business team is building on this momentum by leveraging data and technology to enhance and personalize customer touchpoints. From the welcome and onboarding of new customers to bill payment and member engagement, each interaction is facilitated carefully with the goal of fostering a positive experience for every member.
Insurance as a retail experience?
The focus on data and technology is critical given that individual plan sales are a direct business to consumer segment, unlike most of Blue Cross’ membership. To meet the unique needs of this segment, a dedicated team essentially runs a retail shop that operates within a primarily wholesale organization. In a wholesale environment, strategy adjustments tend to take a bit more time. On the other hand, a retail environment is fast-paced and requires quick decision making based on real-time data.
Consumers now tend to view their interactions with businesses through the lens of a retail shopping experience, regardless of the industry. Consumers expect their transactions with businesses to happen with ease, and health insurance is no exception.
Because of this demand, the individual business team has embraced marketing automation technology to assist Blue Cross with its efforts to make meaningful connections with its customers. The process to deploy marketing automation requires the coordination and assistance of several teams including operations, information technology and more. The teams work together to design the architecture of the customer experience and deliver the data to execute each campaign and journey.
For example, redesigning the welcome and on-boarding strategy required the creation of new processes across marketing, operations, and sales functions. As a result, the time it took for members to receive their new plan materials reduced by 73%. In addition, the operations team embraced marketing research insights to help create a year-round customer engagement program that provides members with administrative, wellness and product upgrade information. This is also personalized based on the individual member’s current plan, benefit and service usage.
Improving efficiency by connecting data and automating processes
Before implementing Salesforce Marketing Cloud, the process to produce and deliver important plan materials to members consisted of several outdated processes such as data and template file transfers via an FTP site or secured email to a print vendor. In addition, some of the member letter template options were extremely limited and hindered the team’s ability to customize communications.
By using Marketing Cloud and a Salesforce integrated print vendor, the team was able to create a new process where member communications are now printed and fulfilled as they are requested by customers. Essentially, the pieces can now be printed on demand at the individual level, instead of having to batch print welcome kits that become outdated quickly.
If a customer wishes to receive the information via email, Blue Cross’ team of health plan advisors are now able to send the material digitally. If the customer prefers printed materials, the team can trigger a request using Service Cloud, which then begins the journey and sends the order to a print vendor for fulfillment.
The use of automation around printed member communications has resulted in a 50% reduction in processing time as well as a cost savings of nearly 60% for Blue Cross. The use of Salesforce platforms has allowed for more control while still maintaining compliance within strict regulatory environments, HIPAA privacy laws, and the responsible use of Protected Health Information (PHI).
How insurers can create better customer experiences for members
Insurers have a responsibility to educate members, regardless of his or her level of knowledge of insurance. The use of marketing automation combined with micro-segmentation provides the Blue Cross team the ability to personalize and quickly deliver marketing content and plan information that the member finds valuable, while meeting their specific needs.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will continue its journey to meet the rising levels of consumerism going forward. The company is undergoing an expansion of Marketing Cloud across additional business teams, which will further enhance an integrated customer experience for all Blue Cross members.
The vision for this growth is to conduct continuous, helpful yet non-intrusive customer engagement that Blue Cross members find useful. By listening to the member and leveraging both proprietary and syndicated data, the team can inform and influence every step of the customer journey. Blue Cross is also working to continue enhancing member contact permissions and preferences to allow customers to receive the types of communications they want, when and how they want to receive them.
Here are a few tips from the Blue Cross team’s experience for organizations that are looking to navigate this shift:
Seek to provide value at every point along the customer journey by delivering communications that are as personalized as possible. This conveys to the member that your organization sees them not just as a customer but as an individual with needs that matter.
Become customer-centric. See each interaction with your customers as an opportunity to listen and learn about what they find important and valuable. Capture this information in a manner that allows for analysis and gathering of insights to inform your future strategies.
Embrace technology and its ability to help you use your data to establish a competitive advantage. Look for ways to positively influence each step of the customer journey, from purchase decision to ongoing retention and engagement efforts.
To learn more about Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan register for their session at the Connections 2019 conference, June 17-19 in Chicago, IL.