With the Affordable Care Act came increased competition and the need for insurers to effectively deliver differentiating value propositions. A once highly commoditized market insurers took a transactional marketing approach is now becoming consumer-driven and necessitating plans adopt a relationship marketing approach if they are to remain competitive. What does that mean? A re-direction of focus from point-of-sale to building and maintaining relationships of trust and transparency.
Relationship marketing has broader, more long-term goals and focuses on understanding individual consumer needs and wants. It is a an approach that must be carried through every level of contact, from initial agent conversation, all the way through to member customer service support. This approach is one that effects branding, customer service, sales training, community/media relations, social media, newsletters, blogs, referral programs and more.
The role of digital. While the Internet and mobile have reduced face time with prospects, at the same time it has provided more and different avenues for developing relationships. Now, plans are able to tell their product stories through interactive and educational features on their website, email newsletters, blog articles, video posts and Facebook pages. They can even empower members to help them tell their stories via online reviews, blog commentary and social media posts, with consumers looking to this commentary as one of their key sources of criteria when selecting a provider. Plans must optimize and align all channels around the customer and must empower their agents with the digital savvy required to virtually interact with their customers.
Modern day relationship marketing is about creating two-way conversations between a brand and its customers. It’s about really listening to consumer needs and wants, tracking their activities and responding with tailored services that address their unique health interests and build community.
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” – Peter Drucker