Article | Empathy

What’s the Biggest Differentiator Among Health Insurance Providers Today? Empathy

Daryl Forkell
Insurance agent meeting with older couple
Insurance agent meeting with older couple

You can have the best products and plans in the world. But if your customers don’t feel a connection with your brand, they’ll leave. And they’ll leave even faster now that they’ve become more savvy online shoppers during the pandemic.

Consumers have always appreciated service, sales, and marketing that makes them feel good. However, they’re growing increasingly discerning about where they put their money, right down to the health insurance they choose.

Health insurance is an extremely competitive industry. Customers have many, many choices, and they know it. What they crave is to feel important, unique, and understood. Consequently, they won’t accept being treated like a number on an insurance company’s CRM database. As such, they’re more apt to buy from a health insurance company that understands them and applies empathy in all phases of the customer journey to prove it.

How an Empathy-First Approach Can Benefit the Health Insurance Industry

From a historical perspective, empathy hasn’t driven most health insurance providers. Insurance has usually revolved around numbers, statistics, and risk levels. However, I’ve seen firsthand how people can be moved to choose one (more expensive) healthcare insurance provider over another based on exceptional, empathetic customer support alone.

Why does empathy drive so many good things when it’s embedded in corporate culture in 2021 and beyond? As McKinsey findings from 2020 show, consumers care about solving their basic needs right now. They’re not interested in flashy bells and whistles. They want to make fast, genuine connections with brands that can serve their needs, solve their problems, and help them feel secure.

Truly, an empathy-driven health insurance company could totally disrupt the insurance marketplace. Already, emotionally minded health insurers routinely receive unsolicited positive press. Therefore, an insurance provider willing to take empathy to the next level could pull ahead of the pack considerably. After all, statistics indicate nearly six out of 10 customers would direct their business elsewhere if they could get a better customer experience. Plus, according to McKinsey’s reports, the best insurance providers can expect 30% more profits than mediocre ones.

How to Increase Empathy in Health Insurance

The health insurance field is fraught with challenges beyond just being crowded. It’s highly regulated and can be difficult to navigate — even for seasoned companies. Additionally, health insurance requirements tend to change rapidly. Still, insurance companies that ratchet up their empathetic practices in the following ways can position themselves to garner tremendous support and credibility:

1. Listen without judgment.

Customers have been through many ups and downs in the past year or two. Simply being heard and understood will go a long way toward helping them feel more satisfaction, even if they still have questions about a claim. Health insurance company representatives who listen first and respond thoughtfully can help pave the way for genuine conversations and deep mutual respect. Although it is not a health insurance-based company, AIG recently implemented plans that emphasized serving customers above judgment. Not only did the company offer a 90-day extension on premiums, but it also provided one-on-one assistance if customers still couldn’t make payments beyond that period. This care obviously goes a long way in the customer experience.

2. Look for ways to pleasantly surprise customers.

In the early days of COVID-19, some property-casualty insurance companies gave back up to 20% of customers’ premiums. Other providers granted premium extensions of up to three months. These unexpected moves grabbed headlines and showed the insurers’ willingness to respond to change in palpable ways. The moves also cemented the insurance providers’ relationships with consumers — and those customers will likely think twice about switching companies down the road.

Empathy continues to be a powerful differentiator. For health insurance providers that want to remain on the leading edge of their industry, it’s a must-try strategy to improve loyalty, reduce churn, and build buzz.

Whether you’re in the insurance world or not, are you looking for more ways to connect with customers? Watch our exclusive video on leveraging empathy to expand your marketing efforts.