The importance of growth for a business is no secret. It helps abusiness drive value, serve customers, attract talent, andcontribute to the community and society at large.

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This is especially true for the health insurance business.

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Besides enabling the above, growth allows better management ofrisks, reduction in cost per member and lower premiums. Nosurprise, health insurance companies obsess about it.

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As a marketing leader, you invest tons of time, money and effortin acquisition of new members to drive growth.

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But Gartner research suggests retention should outweighacquisition -- 80% of your company’s future revenue will come fromjust 20% of your existing customers.

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Further research from Bain indicates the following: Increasingcustomer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.

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This is why I suggest you need to start focusing on retention asa way to grow. In fact, when done right, retention can drive growthat scale by attracting new members through word of mouth andreferrals.

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Satisfied customers tell 9 people about theirpositive experience, while dissatisfied customers are likely totell 22 people about their negative experience, a study says.

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Switching insurers is easier than ever in this digital era.Members switch if they feel you are indifferent to their needs.They want to know you care and that you will not take their loyaltyfor granted.

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You can do this by prioritization of your retention efforts.

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But is that the case at your organization? Or does retentiontake a backseat to acquisition?

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If it does, you are not alone. Here’s how you should changethat.

Secure executive buy-in first

There’s a reason why retention takes a backseat. Retention isabout building loyalty, which can be time-consuming and difficultto measure. Contrast this with acquisition. Impact is almostdirectly correlated with acquisition campaigns and is easy tomeasure (e.g., # of new members per week).

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How do you get buy-in for something that is hard to quantify andtakes time to kick-in?

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Quantify the value of retention. Tie it to long-termprofitability and better ROI. Communicate these value-basedinsights to the executives.

Establish clear retention goals

Because retention typically has not been a priority, its goalsare often ambiguous or non-existent.

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Here’s how you fix this. Ask yourself: What is your actualretention rate? Desired rate? Their difference could be your goal.If that is too aggressive, you can go for a conservative number.The idea is to be clear and specific, not perfect.

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Next, identify KPI targets to measure the retention success.These goals and KPIs will serve as the bedrock of your retentionstrategy and make it more actionable.

Transition to an “always-on” personalized memberexperience

In the health insurance industry, the majority of insurers usethe old method of brand communication. It goes something like this:brands decide who to communicate with, when and how.

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To do this, they develop retention campaigns that reach out tomembers on pre-determined calendar dates, through pre-definedchannels and with set messages and offers.

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What they do not realize is this: since brands do not controlthe message anymore and consumers do, this old method isineffective. Brand-centric messaging translates to campaigns thatare generic, impersonal and forced.

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The result?

  • An undifferentiated and unremarkable member experience.

  • Unmet member expectations and needs.

  • Unhappy member now exploring other options.

Members want to feel special. They feel special when theirexperience is personal. Their experience is personal when they feelthe insurer already knows what they want.

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For example, let’s consider a member who is experiencing thefollowing pain point: delay in claims processing. When this membergets on a call from your call center representative, they expectthe representative to be aware of the pain point and to provide anupdate or a solution. Not a set of questions asking what their painpoints are and how the representative can help – something thathappens now.

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How can you fix this?

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Listen to the cues members are giving you about theirexpectations and needs and use those cues to fuel every memberinteraction with personalized content on every channel. This willmake them feel special and want to become your brand advocates.

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Start small by strategic prioritization before building toscale

Building out an always-on omnichannel retention program looksgreat on paper. However, building such a program to scale is a hugeundertaking. We are talking about personalizing the experience ofall members. Engaging in one or more member journeys at a time.Initiating multiple interactions with you across each journey.Across multiple touch points. And channels.

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The scale at which these interactions are taking place ismind-blowing. Do not wait to build this out to scale.

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Start small and prioritize.

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Here’s how:

  • Prioritize personalization of experience of certain membersegments. This could also be your members with low planutilization or high-risk members with chronic conditions and highcosts. Be proactive in engaging with them to better track andmanage their care.

  • Prioritize personalization of experience on commonly-usedchannels. Typically, website and telephone are the most usedchannels. Perhaps start by personalizing member webpages oroptimizing the website for mobile. You could also introduce mobilehealth applications to engage your member base.

  • Prioritize technology stack that will provide the strongestreturn on investment. Consider deploying a suite oftechnologies that make the strongest impact to your business. Hereare a few examples: Customer Relationship Management (CRM), DataManagement Platform (DMP), or Content Management System (CMS).

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