Blog : Customer Experience

How to Get Started with CX at Your Healthcare Company

How to Get Started with CX at Your Healthcare Company

CX is all the rage these days. It seems that most of it is couched in theoretical theory and “potential” value creation. To be clear, we think it definitely has its purpose. In fact, it is core to our modelH approach. But, we are weary of anything that cannot be implemented in an Agile fashion.

In a McKinsey survey of senior executives, 90% said customer experience (CX) is one of the CEO’s top 3 priorities. This fact is due to increasing customer expectations in an evolving digital marketplace. Customers expect more, better and faster – and they expect you to know and fix your process problems. McKinsey research indicates that for every 10-point up in customer satisfaction, companies increase their revenues by 2 to 3%. Gains come from increasing wallet share (more product purchases) and lower churn rates (fewer customers leave). Satisfaction is correlated to operational or infrastructure-related factors. These include price, transparency, cycle times, product features, and use of digital channels.


We take for granted that the result of a great CX discipline produces customer action (behavior change), satisfaction (customer happiness), and attraction (brand loyalty).  As a result, your employees will be able to understand how their work impacts the member’s experience – and establish a baseline for all future CX endeavors.

Though this seems straightforward, implementing a customer experience discipline within a company is difficult. So how do you begin?

Well, even the longest journey begins with a single first step. Experience is something that can be designed, implemented and measured. In healthcare, favorable experiences can make a difference between healthy/profitable customers and unhealthy/expensive ones. A better experience comes from orchestrating a customer’s journey across channels. Experiential design starts with recognizing and prioritizing your (i.e. your customer’s) most important “touches” so you can optimize the operational factors that drive them. For health plans, the inventory of touches includes your member as well as your providers.

We recommend you start with defining (in a minimally viable way) how the discipline of Customer Experience (CX) will work at your company. Although CX eventually encompasses all of your company’s touchpoints and communications, synchronized across channels to achieve maximum customer activation and brand awareness – we are asking you to just spend a day outlining the basics and assigning responsibility for them. Just do enough to define your most important first CX project(s) and get someone assigned to the task. Then see where it goes from there – and keep it Agile.

As first projects go, we recommend you start with a journey map. A Customer Journey Map is a graphic representation of the journey your prospect/customer takes in relationship to your organization over time and across all touch points.  This tool emphasizes the intersections between your processes, your customer’s jobs-to-be-done, your measures, and your customer’s expectations. If you cannot define the touches, how can you truly prioritize which need fixing first? We recommend you first focus on the “experiences” that move the needle for customers and impact your cost/profit outlook. A few things stand out for prioritization. Digital journeys should be prioritized over manual ones as it easier to “fix” digital than physical. And, McKinsey research shows digital-first journeys produce higher customer-satisfaction scores than traditional journeys. Reducing journey time (the time it takes to complete an individual journey) should be prioritized over adding new features. Customer satisfaction has a higher correlation to “ease-of-use” than “feature rich”. However, keep in mind that there are diminishing payoffs for reducing journey time, so only take it as far as it produces returns.


imagine.GO specializes in helping companies thrive where consumerism and health care converge. We have helped organizations ranging from fortune-100 companies to startups, quickly define better business models and communicate them to stakeholders. We have implemented our “100 Days to Customer Experience” model for several large health insurance plans and other retail-focused healthcare companies.

Here is the link to the McKinsey article we are referencing (The four pillars of distinctive customer journeys).

To your health,

The Team at imagine.GO

3 Rules for Healthcare Business Building

3 Rules for Healthcare Business Building

We just got back from a week in Boston where we presented at the Health 2.0 and Mad-Pow sponsored HXRefactored Conference. They did a great job with the conference, and we had a good time and met some very cool folks on the cutting edge of health and design. I was honored to be able to present with Matt Holt, Google Ventures, & Henry Ford Innovations at Dollars & Sense: The Business of Healthcare. We each gave perspectives on building healthcare businesses.

My talk focused on three simple rules for building healthcare businesses.  In brief, they are:

1. Make sure your business model has applicability to all parts of the healthcare ecosystem. WHY? Building healthcare business models require understanding the dynamics of the ecosystem. It is very hard to disrupt the players. Make sure you know how your stuff helps their stuff.

2. Make sure your business model speaks to all parts of the healthcare canvas. WHY? Building healthcare business models require understanding the moving parts and then showing how they interact. We think there are more of moving parts that Alex Osterwalder’s 9 (although we love his 9 dearly). That is why we built modelH – a business model canvas designed specifically for healthcare companies to develop and explain their business models.

1. Make sure you business model is more than just a canvas. WHY? Building business model canvases is part of building businesses – but you are a long way from viability with just a canvas. Building healthcare businesses also require more than LEAN & your MVP (but please start with this). This is why our model for building businesses is focused on commercialization from the go.

In summary, know how your model will apply to the healthcare ecosystem, explain how your business model serves all constituents in the multi-sided market (and is believable), and show how you will operationalize your business based on sound decisions.

Here is the deck. Enjoy and let us know how we can make it better.  And if you need help launching your company, contact us.


To your health,

The Team at imagine.GO



Join me at AHIP’s Consumer Experience Forum, Nov. 19-20

Join me at AHIP’s Consumer Experience Forum, Nov. 19-20

In today’s retail world of health insurance, are you taking advantage of opportunities to engage with and provide exceptional service to your customers and potential customers?

I encourage you to join me in Phoenix next month at AHIP’s  Consumer Experience Forum, Nov. 19-20 ( to discuss this and more. The Forum brings together thought leaders from plans, researchers, consultants and leading companies to help you optimize your strategy for converting consumers into customers for life. I’m pleased to be moderating this conference, and I can tell you from experience that it will be a highly engaging and informative event.

I hope to see you there. Use promo code LK14KR  to receive a discounted rate. You can learn more and register here:


To your health,

The Team at imagine.GO

p.s. the code gets you $50 off – I make nothing on it – I just want to see you there.


Webinar: Finding and Closing Healthcare Customers through Digital Channels

Webinar: Finding and Closing Healthcare Customers through Digital Channels

Health care reform has created millions of new health care shoppers. Many of whom will be visiting your website for the first time. You’ve done the work to support the new health care consumer on your site, but are you converting visitors into shoppers, and shoppers into repeated customers? This webinar will focus on Conversion Optimization (CO) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to help you maximize traffic to your website and increase your conversion rate (CVR).

September 17, 2014
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm EST

*This webinar is part of the Consumer Experience Webinar Series.
Webinars will be held September 17, October 22, October 29 and December 10, all at 3:00 pm ET.

Learning Objectives:

Discover how to implement a smart and consistent SEO strategy to ensure your company shows up where it matters.
Explore how you can launch and test ‘Calls to Action’ during key points in a person’s visit to your website so that you increase the rates at which visitors start the shopping process.
Examine how you can increase the rates at which shoppers complete the process to become customers.


Moderator: Kevin Riley, President, Kevin Riley & Associates

  • Andrew Bennett, Senior Director of Digital Marketing, Smartsheet
  • David Chase, Director of Digital Marketing, GuideWell
  • Bill Lan, Head of Industry, Insurance & Services, Google



To your health,

The Team at imagine.GO


Learnings on Experience for modelH

Learnings on Experience for modelH

We just wrapped up our 10th business building block sprint on Experience. In summary, the sprint for Project 1.10 completed 3 objectives:

We defined the questions that should be added to our business model canvas for helping practitioners define their Customer Relationships.

  • What is the lowest common denominator Experience your Customer Segment is looking for?
  • Where does your Experience exceed these minimum expectations?
  • Where does your Experience miss these minimum expectations?
  • Which of your Key Activities drive your Experience?
  • Which part(s) of your business model creates “hassles” for your Customer Segments?
  • What makes it hard for your Customer Segments to find you?
  • How do your Customer Segments feel about you?
  • How easy is it for your Customer Segments to work with you?
  • What keeps your Customer Segments from recommending your Value Proposition?
  • What keeps your Buyers from shifting some or all of their business to another?
  • How likely are the Buyers to consider purchasing more from you in the future
  • Where are there hassles that keep Buyers from buying your Value Proposition?
  • Where are there hassles that keep Users from using your Value Proposition?
  • Where does your Value Proposition waste your Customer Segment’s time?
  • Where does your Value Proposition require extra or unnecessary steps?
  • Where does your Value Proposition waste your Customer Segment’s money?
  • Where does your business model create confusion for your Customer Segments?
  • Where does your business model generate avoidable risks?

modelH Canvas 10 Experience Highlight

How Do You Build Your Customer Experience?

Customer Experience is how you create great engagements for consumers as they buy/use or even consider using your products and/or services. Great healthcare companies of the future must quickly become great customer experience companies today, and for the foreseeable future. This requires a comprehensive Experience building block in your business model that:

1)     Identifies the areas for change within the current business model,

2)     Defines the change(s) that must happen, and

3)     Helps the business block owners implement changes across the organization.

Even if your business is just a cog in a value chain, and/or you have no direct access to healthcare consumers – you must remember Porter’s sense of shared value. In the healthcare ecosystem, all business models have an impact on the User – good or bad.  You should know how your Value Proposition plays out in this larger picture, and help to build your own Experience building block to ensure it is a good one. Fred Weirsema in his book How to Design a Great Experience highlights questions (listed below) for determining whether your business model (and the way you approach the market) is “in tune” with the customers you are trying to touch or impact (what Weirsema calls a Design Rule – the things a company must do to ensure it is attuned with its customers). Can my customer find me?

  • What is the top-level decision frame?
  • Does my company come up at the top of that list?
  • How does my company make sure our name appears at the top of the list?
  • Can they find my company through the channel they prefer?
  • Can they discover my company thru several channels?
  • Are SEO and SEM efforts effectively managed – to match keywords?
  • What is the bounce or abandonment rate?

2. When they find my company – is it unique? Is the impression memorable?

  • How do they find their JTBD?
  • Does that tie into my company’s uniqueness?
  • Does my company build with eye to new customer and what barriers they perceive?
  • Is the customer’s instant judgment positive about my company’s products and services?
  • Is my company’s website clear, reassuring and confident?
  • Does the website remove barriers?

3. Do your company’s processes get in the way of a purchase?

  • What is the abandonment rate online?
  • Does your company make it hard to buy or do you bait and switch?
  • Has your company gone through a buy process step by step (exactly as the customer would) – and is it smooth and predictable or is it jolting?

4. Does your company send unintended messages?

  • Is the boilerplate type of message giving off a legalese gotcha moment?
  • Has your company considered how its actions will be perceived?

5. Are your company’s products and services intuitive?

  • Do customers need an instruction manual to navigate your company’s processes?
  • Does your company build on the Minimal Viable Product (MVP)?
  • Do your company’s processes, products and services keep with what is expected?
  • Have you avoided unwanted advanced, or too many, options?

6. Does your company’s approach to the market have threaded channels?

  • Is “same customer – same data” readily and consistently available?
  • Are your company’s messages and behaviors synchronized?
  • Does your company’s treatment and approach stem from your unique brand promise?

How Do You Measure Customer Experience?

It seems plausible that you should identify and know your Customer Segments before you create products and services for them. Likewise, once you have products and services tailored especially for them – you create winning Experiences for them through the various Channels and Customer Relationships. The flow can be seen visually here.

modelH - Consumer Measurement

  1. Customer Segment Development – know your customers, (who they are, and what they want) and most importantly learn their values.
  2. Value Proposition Management – create value that your customers perceive because it effectively solves their jobs-to-be-done.
  3. Customer Behavior Management – understand your customers health needs and comprehension so you can directly and indirectly mange them.
  4. Customer Experience Management – know how your customers want to experience your products and services and create favorable engagements for them as they discover, consider, buy and use them.

This section is about measuring Experience as a business function. In as much, we should not just rely on the standard Net Promoter Score or Customer Satisfaction Score and call it a day. We must add revenue and cost elements into Experience measures because it is 1) a prudent thing to do for all business functions, and 2) critical for identifying how components of Experience drives overall revenue and impacts overall costs. When Experience is implemented properly across a business model, it will produce:

  1. An agreement and a common understanding regarding the importance and impact of Consumer Experience across all business efforts and business outcomes. (Strategy)
  2. A clear mapping and organizational (entire workforce) understanding of the Consumer Experience Journey across all touch points. (Culture)
  3. A set of Consumer Experience guides incorporated into all products, channels and messages. (Brand)
  4. A defined Consumer Experience Team organized around successful and consistent strategy execution. (People)
  5. A common model and process for using and ensuring Consumer Experience principles across the organization. (Process)
  6. An established set of Consumer Experience metrics that include revenue generation and cost consideration/understanding/containment. (Financial)
  7. A set of Consumer Experience metrics focused specifically on experience accountability across the organization. (Customer)

Consumer Experience Success Indicators

The following measures are across the key dimensions of a company and its business model.


A measure indicating how well Consumer Experience is embedded into the corporate strategy.

  • A clearly defined, agreed to, and commonly understood Consumer Experience strategy
  • A clearly defined Consumer Experience plan of implementation (change agenda)
  • A defined maturity curve (that defines current customer experience) for how Consumer Experience will create value for the company

A measure indicating how much Consumer Experience is emphasized as a critical area by all employees/internal stakeholders.

  • A measure of overall organizational effectiveness related to Consumer Experience (e.g. Number of employees who have consumer experience as a key area of focus in their individual performance plans)
  • A shared executive measure for collaborating on Consumer Experience initiatives
    • Shared measure (connection) with Customer Development/Sales group
    • Shared measure (connection) with Channel Owners
    • A single Consumer Experience measure in the annual company performance scorecard (KPI – key performance indicator)
    • A Consumer Experience dashboard with agreed upon metrics that is widely communicated to internal stakeholders and actively managed by the senior team

A measure indicating the alignment of Consumer Experience with your company’s brand promise.

  • A measure for Customer Brand Loyalty
  • A measure for Brand Experience
  • A measure for “likelihood to recommend”

A measure indicating the development of the roles that lead and drive continuous improvement for the Consumer Experience function.

  • Hiring the VP of Consumer/Customer Experience who has the ability to impact organizational strategy and operational processes
  • Designing, developing the Consumer Experience roles and responsibilities
  • Hiring the Consumer Experience Team

A measure indicating the clarity and utilization of the Customer Experience process.

  • Publication (communication) of a documented Consumer Experience Process
  • A documented Consumer Experience Standards Guide that is referenced throughout organizational processes and policies
  • A Customer/Member Journey Map that outlines how organizational roles and responsibilities impact each point on the journey map
  • Completion of regular Experience Audits for all channels, touchpoints, and communications
  • Implemented Experience Improvement Plans for top prioritized channels
  • Evidence of ongoing measurement of, and reduction in, cycle-time for Consumer Experience Projects

A measure indicating the effect that Customer Experience has on corporate financial performance. Revenue (attributable to Consumer Experience)

  • Wallet Share
  • Customer Profitability
  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Market Share
  • Average Revenue per Customer
  • Number of New Customers acquired each period
  • Value of New Customers
  • New Sales Driven by Word of Mouth

Costs (attributable to Consumer Experience)

  • Customer Retention Rate
  • Customer Churn Rate/Number of Lost Customers
  • Value of Lost Customers
  • Cost to Serve Customers (total service and support costs)
  • Cost to provide differentiating value (perceived as what competitors do not offer)
  • Cost to Satisfy Customers by channel (email, chat, online, telephone, in person)
  • Ratio of Cost to Serve / Total Revenue



A measure indicating the Customer Experience and its affect across the customer lifecycle. Single Measures

  • Customer Effort Score CES score
  • Customer Experience Index (CXi) score
  • Customer Value Management (CVM) score
  • Customer Loyalty Score
  • Likelihood to recommend score

How easy is it for customers to find you?

  • New/Existing customers by channel  (examples below)
    • phone calls can be tracked using Google provided phone number
    • digital click thru on SEO versus SEM
    • bounce rates on keywords
    • retail visits and revisits
    • Multi-channel decision making by segment and number of touchpoints used
    • Time thru touchpoints used (channel completion rate and average time in channels)
    • Random survey reports from customers

How easy is it for customers to stay with you?

  • Reluctance to Switch score
  • Win-back After Loss (number/percentage)
  • Random survey reports from customers

How do customers feel about you?

  • Brand Trust Indicator
  • Emotional response survey
  • Random survey reports from customers
  • Perception of your company/organization by competitors

How well do customers listen to you?

  • Call center data (if applicable/available)
  • Customer compliance indicators
  • Customer understanding of your communications

How easy is it for customers to work with you?

  • Speed of application/entry process
  • Speed of issue resolution process
  • Number of customer complaints
  • Number of customer kudos
  • Customer satisfaction with specific touch points

Next up, we are going to look at Project 1.11, 12, and 13 – Key Activities, Resources, and Partners. Interested in what we are doing? Step up to the plate an get involved.

To your health,

The Team at imagine.GO

How to Explain Healthcare Reform to Your Customer

How to Explain Healthcare Reform to Your Customer

This is a tale of two customer conversations about healthcare reform. The first is conducted by an insurer and the second by a large consumer financial services company.  Guess which one tells a better story. Here is a hint, not the health insurer. This article is not about picking on one or the other. It is about trying to uncover why healthcare companies have such a hard time communicating about their industry in a manner that is simple, clear, and effective. I set out to make a fair and honest comparison, and was actually disappointed in how bad the insurer got it.

H&R Block Reform Conversation Header

Why Communication is so important to Win Health Insurance Business

The battle for healthcare communication must be fought and won. As we head into the first enrollment period under the new Affordable Care Act (ACA), most small businesses do not have a clear or accurate understanding of what will be required of them to “play.”

This is a problem. I advocate that small businesses have the most change thrust upon them, and make up the market that is most competitive in the health insurance landscape.

I am not talking about the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) definition of a small business, which includes operations with up to $7 million in revenue or 500 employees. I am talking about the ACA definition of a small business – those with 50 employees and under, which includes most of the businesses in the country.  To put this in perspective, according to the to the most current U.S. census data, companies with 9 employees or less make up 95% of small businesses.

Provisions in the new law present difficult new decisions regarding healthcare benefits for companies of this size. Some employers must cover insurance for their staff or face a penalty. Some employers are exempt from having to buy insurance for their employees. Some can even be subsidized.  Here are some examples:

  • A small business with 50 full-time equivalent employees is required to provide coverage for employees who average 30+ hours a week, or a penalty will be applied.
  • A small business with less than 25 employees that pays average annual wages under $50,000 may qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 35% (up to 25% for non-profits) to offset the cost of insurance.
  • A small businesses may be eligible to use the new Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP) Exchanges to pick a plan they want their employees to enroll in. In 2014, the employer selects the plans, and employees choose from the selected options. In 2015, this changes to the employers selecting an actuarial value level and the employees selecting any plan in that range.


Infographic on Employer Understanding of Healthcare Reform

Source: Docstoc

So you would think Health Plans would be beating the streets to get the message out to all small employers.  It stands to reason that the Health Plan that does the best job of explaining healthcare reform and its implications on small businesses (thus taking a burden of information off of the small business owner) will probably be the plan that the employer selects for his employees in 2014. Assuming the Plan does a good job in 2014, there is a strong chance that the employees will keep that same Plan Carrier in 2015 and beyond. Yet, according to the infographic above, more than half of the exempt small businesses do not understand the basics of the equation. Who will win this business? The ones that does the best job explaining it!

2013 a critical year to compete for the small business health insurance.

But, healthcare reform affects more than just small businesses. It affects many individuals who are not on employer insurance roles as well.  To put this in perspective, according to the World Bank the total US workforce numbers a little more than 158 million.  By 2015 there will be 70 million independent 1099 contractors. That means that almost 50% of the US workforce will be an independent worker by 2015.  What are insurers plans to win this growth market?

2014 is critical year to compete for the under 65 consumer market.

What is Considered Good Communication?

H&R Block understands this cause and affect and has already started its communications to both groups. After filing my taxes this year, I was prompted to engage with the following interactive explanation of how the new healthcare reform law will affect me and my taxes. I made a quick video of what I thought were the highlights.

You can try it for yourself here:

Now juxtapose this to a more comprehensive and confusing explanation by a major insurer. I was not prompted in the course of another action as I was with H&R Block, so I did what we all do to learn – I started with a Google search. This page is what came back, so I clicked the top result.

CIGNA Explains Healthcare Reform

As I was trying to make sense of the overwhelming amount of information, unprompted CIGNA asked ME how to make THEIR website better.   This survey was unbelievable to me. They actually interrupted a bad experience to make it worse.

CIGNA Values My Opinion

And to boot, the dialog that I did not want and had to click to get rid of had errors on the page. Look n the upper left corner and notice the infamous “image not found” image. And to really go over the top, CIGNA gave me instructions on something I did not ask for and did not want, which put the burden on me. I was not here to help them with their website – I was hear to help myself learn about healthcare reform and somehow I am now roped into giving them my feedback. But even that was not easy. Take a look at the actual instructions they gave me – “When you click “Yes, I would”, another browser window will open for the survey. Please return to your open window, complete your visit, and then return to the survey window. All input you provide is strictly confidential.”

I had to go somewhere else, to do something I did not want to do, to help CIGNA, and then they had the brass to ask me to return to the page I was confused on in the first place to complete the business I was here for – absolutely unbelievable!!!

CIGNA H&R Block Reform Conversation

When will the insurance companies get it right? If H&R Block can do it, I expect them to be able to as well.

To your health,

The Team at imagine.GO


How to Send a Personalized Bill to Your Customer

How to Send a Personalized Bill to Your Customer

I just received a new bill from AT&T – and get this – it was a personalized video of my charges.  Yes, that is correct, a video.  It was my actual bill, with my actual charges explained.  And it was cool. I watched it three times and then recorded it and made a video to share. Here is the short video I made of my experience:

An Old Dog with Some Cool New Tricks

To be sure, I am not a raving fan of AT&T but I respect their product offering, and they seem to be getting much better at customer service. In truth, their coverage where I live at the beach in Florida is terrible. But, for the most part, they are pretty spectacular anywhere else I travel for work.  I pay around $130 to $150 every month for their services. I know and trust and rely on their product.  But, historically speaking I have had two issues with their product – at least from the arena of understanding my bill charges and getting someone one the phone to help me get answers.   I can sympathize as they have a lot of customers to deal with daily. However, I am still the customer, and I pay them close to $1500 per year. I have the right to expect better.  Such is life.

I have upgraded my phone and service several times in the life of my relationship with AT&T. Invariably, I am always confused at the one-off charges I see on the bill and in many cases, I have had the need to call and clarify what they were. I dread this scenario because I know it will be several trips through their telephone prompt system, then saying the same thing to at least three reps that have a somewhat less than mastery of English.  One month ago, I upgraded my iPhone to the new 5 (my relationship with Apple is a story in itself, and someday I may let you know about it).

So imagine my surprise when I received an email from AT&T with a link asking me to watch a video about my new bill. The call to action was clear and the broadcast email was well done, so I obliged. It took me to a page at the AT&T site where I saw a video that explained my most recent bill, in clear detail – even the one off charge. It was very well done, and it was tailored just for me.  I can still get access to the regular online or printed bill as well – but I feel no need to now.

AT&T Video Bill Email

How did they do it? I am not so naïve to think AT&T chose to invest resources in the AV department to create a video just for me – so I have to assume this was done by some smart new vendor that can tie into their systems and use list data to create custom videos. Whatever the reason, the result was that I understood the bill, and I did not feel a need to call AT&T – this saving them the transaction cost.  I have to assume the economics are for the mass/custom video versus the support line.  Furthermore, they saved me aggravation and got me talking in a positive light about AT&T. Nice work.

AT&T Video Bill

One other thing, because this is new technology and a new experience (I am sure they tested it quite a bit), AT&T was smart enough to ask me some survey questions at the end to see what I thought about it. Thus, validating their efforts. Again, nice work.

AT&T Video Bill with Questions

If My Phone Provider Can Do It, Why Can’t My Healthcare?

As I said, I spend approximately $130 with my phone provider each month. By contrast, I spend $400 with my health insurance provider.  As bad as my old phone bill was, by contrast, it is like a new Harry Potter novel (FYI I love Harry Potter books) compared to the bill I get from my insurance company. Or should I say, the “THIS IS NOT A BILL” I get from my health plan.  Take a look at a sample Explanation of Benefits (EOB) below.

Firstly, I find it somewhat ironic that it is called an Explanation of Benefits – as it is neither a benefit nor a good explanation of what I owe. I am not picking on any one plan – I just happened to be able to find a sample EOB for them online. And not wanting to post my own, I had to have something to speak to, so they are the lucky winners. In truth, from what I know and what I have heard, all if not almost all insurance companies are this bad.

Here is what drives me crazy about this document. It gives me more than I need in a poorly laid out manner, so it guarantees my confusion. Thus, resulting in my need to call them. Thus, having to deal with the call center for the insurance company. Thus, ensuring I add anger to my confusion. This repeat cycle is a never-ending loop for million of customers across the country.

When will the health insurance companies get it right? If AT&T can do it, I now expect them can as well.

Explanation of Benefits with Notes

To your health,

The Team at imagine.GO


Does Healthcare Need a Chief Experience Officer (CXO)?

Does Healthcare Need a Chief Experience Officer (CXO)?

Do Healthcare Companies need a Chief Exp. Officer?

What do I mean by Experience? Great customer-focused companies have built their business around the voice and perspectives of their customers. Healthcare companies, more specifically health insurance companies, are typically not primarily viewed as consumer-centric entities. The Affordable Care Act is a major impetus in changing healthcare from an almost industrialized, business-to-business modality to a retail one. This change is also driving healthcare companies to adopt the best practices of big box retailers and banks. One of those practices, albeit still somewhat new, is to have a C-level position dedicated to bringing emphasis on the customer to the forefront, as well as to govern the traditional business in how they “go retail.”

I advocate that all healthcare companies follow suit – provider, payers, and everyone in between – and create a Chief Experience Officer or Chief Customer Experience Officer.

Forrester has done some great research (April 2011 “Customer Experience Index, 2011: Health Insurance Plans”) on how customers feel about various industries. In 2009 health insurance ranked near the bottom at 51% – in 2011, it remained relatively unchanged – at 53%. What makes it worse is that other forms of insurance, like auto and life, rank much higher at 72%, so there should be no excuse for the healthcare companies to be satisfied with status quo. To also be perceived as lower than the cable companies is shocking, as it is nearly impossible in my experience to find someone who thinks they create great customer experiences.

Source Forrester Research
Source Forrester Research

Too many companies equate customer experience with customer service (or support). Service is a part of what makes a great overall customer experience. Experience is a lot more than just service and is certainly more than just a measure of your “first call resolution.” If you are more worried about solving the problems you create, as opposed to ceasing to cause problems altogether, you have missed the boat. Furthermore, if you consider “first call resolution” to technically be a good experience when the customer stays on the same phone call but talks with 3 or 4 “support specialists” and managers then you have again missed the boat.

WIKI defines “customer experience” as: “the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. From awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy.”

This works for me. What is to be understood from this is that many single experiences accumulated together provide an overall customer experience, which in turn drives the attitudes and behaviors of a customer towards a company. Let’s take a look at what this might look like for an average healthcare consumer.

A Consumer’s Healthcare Vignette

Sam is employed and has his benefits through his employer. His company has sponsored an annual worksite wellness event where Sam gets his blood glucose and cholesterol checked. Sam also plans to get a full diagnostic screening using ultrasound technology sometime this year from his in-network primary care provider.   He also scheduled an annual physical that includes a full blood lipid panel workup. Additionally, Sam has access to a kiosk located in his worksite clinic to check and report on his glucose levels. He also has a WebMD account through his employer but chooses not to use it because he perceives it as too complex. Sam’s wife gets a mailer from their insurance company inviting them to come in at the newly opened insurance retail center. If they do so – they get a free screening.

None of these experiences communicate to each other electronically, and none of them automatically or conveniently store Sam’s data in his Microsoft Health Vault account.

Because his previous annual physical showed a high glucose score, Sam was identified as pre-diabetic. He has received messages and calls about pre-diabetes care options from a “consultant” at his insurance provider. He wonders if this nurse works for his doctor and if not, does his doctor know she is calling and what she is saying. He wonders if his doctor would agree?

This only gets more confusing the more we go on. Consumer oriented or consumer focused companies understand and plan for an intentional customer experience. To drive a consistent customer experience (a branded experience) across all of your channels, you need someone in control who has both the purview and the spine to get things done. This example is where a Chief Experience/Customer Experience Officer comes in.

What is a Chief Experience Officer?

Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate ActionThis C-level position is most commonly referred to as the Chief Customer Officer (CXO), though other titles are used: Chief Client Officer (at OptumHealth), Chief Experience Officer (at Cigna), or Executive Vice President, Member Experience (at USAA). What is important to note is that these individuals are empowered to design, orchestrate, and improve customer experiences across every customer interaction.

In The Rise Of The Chief Customer Officer, a report by Forrester Research, they looked closely at this growing corporate trend. In summary, the report found that the role is far beyond just fixing the problems of unhappy customers. It is ultimately responsible for determining how to accelerate the practice of customer-centricity throughout an organization by teaching the techniques and building the capabilities that are needed to serve a consumer. This report, like many reports that deal with change management, also echoes the need for change to stem from the executive management team, which brings the impetus for change to the company and the customer’s voice into the boardroom.

In Chief Customer Officer – Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action, the role of the CXO is defined as:

  • Influence agreement on what and how to deliver the greatest value to customers
  • Establish metrics for defining relationships and value creation with customers
  • Drive accountability through the organization for those data and metrics
  • Clarify a common approach and process for driving the work across the organization

The Key Takeaways

So what should you get if your take the leap and create your own CXO role?

Better Design

You cannot have a good experience without good design. The CXO must be a believer in the principles of User Centered Design and invest in bringing those techniques into their company. In this role, creativity – not productivity is the key to business success. In my opinion, the incumbent should serve as the chief design officer as well. It does not mean that the CXO has to be a great designer, but they must appreciate the need for great design, recognize when they do not have it, and push to ensure they get it across all touch-points. This consistency can also be served by having a strong partnership with the brand team and brand officer.

Better Consistency

Consistently clear messages and appealing design only come when a company has a common design language and consistent design principles. If your company does not integrate the communications and consumer experience efforts, you will send mixed and probably confusing signals to your customers – without even trying. Brand is brand, and should stay that way. But ensuring the promise of the brand is delivered in a consistent and clear way, across channels, synchronized for maximum effectiveness, requires a CXO, in partnership with business operations and the brand team, to bring it to action.

Better Transparency

Consumers’ standards for clarity have changed. Regardless of what industry you are in, the best-in-class retailers are setting your customers’ expectations for a clear understanding of your products, their price, and what you are going to do when something goes wrong. But it is complex to deliver a good customer experience. Forrester analyst Liz Boehm says it best when she states the goal “it is not simply to provide what the consumer wants but provide it in a way that gives them information about something they might not want to understand.” Your customers expect you to have access to the same information about them as Amazon does, and the same winning attitude as Zappos does. Chances are that you are probably not there on either count right now. The role of the CXO is to bridge the communication gap and close the consumer’s disconnect between expectations and reality.

Can it work at a legacy Healthcare company?

How do we make it (customer experience focus) work?  This question is a far better question for healthcare companies to ask then- can it work? For any healthcare company that is preparing to conduct business in an environment impacted by reform, the voice of the customer is, and should be, a priority. I advocate here to create the role and office of a CXO to drive, help lead, and manage your company’s journey towards ensuring that the customer’s perspective is always brought to the forefront, storefront, and boardroom for consideration in all business decisions.

It bears repeating that the CXO role is not a senior support role. A company should not, as Forrester’s research indicates, rush to appoint a CXO in the attempt to solve poor customer satisfaction ratings. As Hagan suggests in his HBR article, creating a CXO requires three preconditions for success:

  • a mandate to differentiate based on customer experience, preferably from the CEO,
  • a portfolio of successful projects that create buy-in across the organization, and
  • a uniform understanding on the leadership team for what the position can accomplish.

While all retail companies must place emphasis on their customers’ perspective, a brand new C-level position may not always be necessary. As Manning states, the work of the CXO function is vital to achieving customer-centricity, but may be able to be fulfilled by an existing executive dedicated to overseeing and linking different functional groups, with the ultimate objective of maximizing customer and corporate value. Whether you appoint a CXO or not, it is clear that healthcare companies will benefit from a single executive, sitting on the executive management team, focused exclusively on the customer experience.

Some quick tips to get started

I plan to write more on these later but should you decide to create a CXO role here is a basic

6-step plan to get you started.

  1. Announce the Role and its Premise
  2. Design the Framework in which the role it will Exist and Operate
  3. Define the Resources internal and external to the Department
  4. Explain the Process, Tools, and Techniques that will support the framework
  5. Outline the Governance model for the strategy and work
  6. Publish the Metrics for Measurement


Here are some other good sources on Customer Experience.


To your health,

The Team at imagine.G


Which of these Describes your Health App?

Which of these Describes your Health App?

What is “Retail” Health Technology?

This post is specific to health technology, so let’s start by defining our context. I think this definition by Booz is the best I have seen. Take a moment to read and digest!

“Retail health is where consumers find quality care in a variety of convenient forms and at competitive prices. Consumers are able to plan for the health care needs they anticipate and make informed decisions based on readily available information. They can then “shop” competitively for products and services using a variety of channels, formats, and business models. And for those that need help, they can turn to “navigators” who work with them to design the most suitable health care solutions for themselves and their families.”

I love this definition. Particularly that it points out that consumers should be able to “shop” competitively for products and services using a variety of channels, formats, and business models.

So then, what is the right place for technology in retail health? For me technology should serve as a means to help educate, navigate, plan, motivate and choose from suitable solutions for health care needs, anticipated and otherwise.

How does technology power retail health?

Technology is transforming the way healthcare is understood by the patient, managed by the insurance plan, and delivered by the provider. One major benefit is that technology can greatly reduce costs by removing the need for the same care to be delivered through a much less expensive channel, which is available at the consumers demand. Another benefit is it allows for customer-intimacy over a faster (and less expensive) delivery channel. So, with those two benefits alone, and there are many others, it is worth the heavy investment that we see in the marketplace. But to add icing to the cake, technology enables consumer’s health data to be stored in one easy to access place, securely. This enables a consumer to access their health information over time to see if their health is trending one way or another. With increasingly sophisticated smart phones and collaboration software, there will soon come a day when health care is delivered seamlessly as part of a consumer’s accepted daily routine – such as appointments and care decision alerts via their calendar, email and text messaging.

Smart health care companies will find ways to overcome trust and regulatory issues, simplify – and make meaningful the fire hose of health information, and reach consumers with relevant and reasonable guidance to help them take charge of their own health.

As it stands today, there are (too) many companies offering solutions to help consumer with their health. Here are a few examples – there are many, many more.

So Many Health Vendors

With all this choice, what then could be the problem?

However, because technology has made choosing a cheap alternative, vendors have rushed to provide consumers with too much to choose from, and thereby exacerbating the problem by creating a fragmented path to solve their jobs-to-be-done. As such, consumers typically get help at “points in time” when making health related decisions, but not “over time” in a consistent and evidenced based manner.

Let’s take a look at what too much choice can be like.

Example # 1

Say you want to buy health products from Amazon. A simple search for heart rate monitors results in greater than 14,247 heart rate monitor entries. Try it yourself by clicking here.

Example # 2

Ok, so you and 1 billion others have a smart phone. Well now you need a health application. Yikes! There are over 13,000 healthcare related apps in iTunes. Try it yourself by clicking here.

Example # 3

Ok, let’s just play it safe and look up health information online. There are over 23,000 articles on WebMD that have to be searched through. Now WebMD does have search filters thank goodness, but that assumes I understand enough about the topic to know what filters to use. In most cases consumers do not. Just looking at the back pain page gives me a headache.

The moral of our story

Simply put, build technology that matters to the consumer by creating an experience in which they want to engage.

Ok, so what can you do to ensure that you are not adding to the problem? I offer up this simple test to see if you are helping or hindering the consumer in their pursuit of health.

Is your technology a shovel, a hole, or a fruit tree?

shovelA lot of our health technology is what I consider a “shovel”. It is by technicians for technicians – it is shinny and sturdy, but in and of itself is of no use! Well, this one is not shiny but it is sturdy, and you get the point.

Shovels offer no value exchange. They create no purchase reason.


holeOther health technologies are “holes”. They are there and can be used for whatever you want them for. Better than shovels (in fact best created with shovels) holes have usefulness if filled properly.

They can be good for growing a good idea into something bigger. They can also become mud puddles or sink holes.


FruitTreeFinally, we have Fruit Trees. The value is well understood by both growers (providers) and consumers. They have utility. You forget about the “tree” because you are focused on the sweetness of the fruit. This idea is what we have to aim for. You have to envision your consumer drinking a glass of your orange juice on a sunny morning before they go to work brimming with energy. Yes it took a hole to grow the tree, and yes it took a shovel to dig the hole, but the experience (that lip smacking satisfied customer) is what matters.


Envision the value being realized – now go create.


To your health,

The Team at imagine.GO