News : Self-Service Tech Support Answers Health Insurer's Call
April 21, 2014 -- Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas City added customer engagement software to answer members' questions without hiring more call center staff.
The Affordable Care Act brought a flood of newly insured members on to the rolls at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas City, and they brought with them a lot of questions. To answer those questions as efficiently as possible, the insurer invested in digital self-service technology as part of its website redesign -- a move designed to satisfy customers and reduce calls to live agents.
A year before the ACA's major health insurance expansion, Blue KC hired Forrester Research to review its website for usability and performance, said Deb McCabe, department vice president of customer experience at the insurance firm. Blue KC serves about 1 million people in the Kansas City, Mo., region.
Forrester suggested several ways to improve the site and recommended a few vendors, which responded to Blue KC's request for information. Ultimately, the insurer selected IntelliResponse's Virtual Agent and customer engagement software because of its features, service, and analytics capabilities, McCabe told InformationWeek in an interview. The software attempts to match customer questions with answers in its knowledgebase, minimizing the number that require an individual response.
"Our approach to the implementation was very vanilla," McCabe said. "Our goal was to fit it into our redesign and not do an extensive amount of custom development work on our side. We had a lot of [other] development work going on in our site. One of our developers learned IntelliResponse integration."
To encourage exploration, Blue KC's website includes a list of the top five questions. It also includes frequently asked questions (FAQs). The system suggests topics as users start typing. To get additional information, members may click on related questions, too. Before the redesign, members had to go to the top of the website, look for the topic of interest, and do a lot of clicking, McCabe said.
In addition to further expanding the library and keywords, Blue KC plans to add a mobile-optimized site at some point in the future.
Newly insured members have different questions than longtime members, and the questions they ask change over time, Lloyd said. "If you understand those questions, you can make sure the information they need is always there for them." That's why it's wise for insurers' chief marketing or customer service executives to take the top 10 questions members are asking call center agents and look them up on their own website, he said. If the answers aren't there, "you haven't passed your own litmus test."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, April 22, 2014