Customer trust brings its own healthy rewards
American consumers will pay on average US$30 a month more to do business with a health insurer that they trust, with some being willing to pay up to US$100 more, according to a study by customer-based business strategy firm Peppers & Rogers Group.
The study, entitled 'Trustability in Health Care', found that a worrying 50% of consumers do not trust their current health insurer, which has a significant negative impact on those companies' business in terms of customer loyalty, advocacy and intent to purchase additional products and services.
Consumer trust was also found to impact actual health outcomes such as willingness to follow health insurer's instructions, and willingness to follow the doctor's instructions. The bottom line is that consumers care about trust, and they actually notice and remember the behaviour of a health insurer, and whether that enhances or diminishes the overall level of trust they feel toward the company.
"Given changes in legislation that will bring customer choice to the marketplace it is no secret that the health insurers need to think differently about how they build and nurture relationships with their customers," warned Peppers & Rogers Group partner and health care practice leader, Marc Ruggiano. "When consumers are no longer captive to a specific health insurer, their perception of the insurer becomes more important. It is all about establishing a trusted, relationship. This study shows the depth and urgency of the need for change."
Research director and co-author of the study, Tom Lacki Ph.D. explained the aim of the study: "We believe that trust is divided into two distinct areas: competency (the ability to do things right) and Goodwill (the ability to do the right things). We designed the study to help insurers identify the drivers of trust in each area. By knowing which behaviours of the company enhance or diminish trust among its customers, a health insurer has the opportunity to focus and prioritize its efforts, measure what matters, and align its reward and recognition systems."
The study illustrates that respondents who report a high level of trust with their health insurers provide strong ratings on the competency scale in areas like getting the basics right, communicating clearly and resolving problems quickly and correctly. On the goodwill scale, factors such as keeping promises, taking ownership of problems, and focusing on what is best for the customer received strong ratings.
"The study demonstrates that establishing and maintaining trust with customers is a critical capability for insurers and it is possible to measure and monitor trust as a practical metric. In an industry that touches individuals and their families so personally, trust is even more important," said Ruggiano.
"Health insurers must urgently develop capabilities that build trusted relationships with consumers, including actionable consumer insights, managing interactions with customers, accessing consumer information, communicating complex messages effectively, and holding themselves and their employees accountable," Ruggiano concluded.