Health insurers should take a look at Amazon
by Bettina Döbereiner

German health insurance funds do not use their customer data sufficiently, according to a study by consultancy agency Kienbaum, which also found that health insurers do not `cultivate a client-oriented culture´. (Clients = the medically insured).

Focused on 2008, the study established that too little effort was put into researching the needs of their clients, ‘for example, only 35% of the health insurance funds conducted an annual survey’.
Since the amendment of law in health policy came into effect this January, these facts were considered ‘… detrimental to competition in the healthcare business. With the introduction of rather equal contribution rates, clients will base their choice of insurance provider not only on fees but, more than before, on service quality, e.g. the most efficient and responsive service offer’.
The study, Customer orientation and competitive orientation within the private and public health insurance funds, recommends ‘…regular surveys and a systematic use of data about their customers by the health insurance funds. The successful e-commerce company Amazon should serve them as an example. To improve the service, the study suggests offering special information for specific target groups, for example newsletters for young families. Furthermore, health insurance funds should develop special programmes to create an enhanced loyalty to the customer, such as the introduction of special customer benefit programmes. The study strongly sees the need for a more client-orientated culture. To ameliorate the customer culture, the authors suggests the generating of virtual communities within the web as well as the introduction of coherent advisory services according to the principle One face to one customer. Yet, despite enormous investments made in staff training, the investigators found still enormous potential regarding the development of human resources to achieve a more client friendly service culture.’


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