Improving customer experience strategies is a top priority to keep pace with the modern marketplace.

It goes without saying that most health Insurance the blueprints’ digital experiences aren’t where they need to be. In fact, health insurers’ traditional approach to customer experience lags significantly behind other industries that have prioritized digital channels in recent years. From retail and entertainment to financial services and hospitality, these companies recognize rising digital literacy rates and customer expectations and continue to develop digital experiences that engage their consumers across all channels.

Couple this market-wide push for omnichannel experiences with the healthcare industry’s recent introduction of more clinics, home care, and digital health offerings, and insurers have suddenly a band of empowered, digitally savvy customers who demand more. Simply put, today’s consumers expect personalized and seamless omnichannel services, and insurers are generally unprepared to meet these demands.

While insurers may be keen to catch up with other digital industries, they should not respond with a blanket attempt to introduce digital solutions across all value chains, communication channels and member touchpoints. Frankly, it could be very expensive and not hit the desired target fast enough. To improve customer experience strategies, insurers will need to discard their old manuals and thoughtfully introduce tactics and capabilities that will improve their customers’ omnichannel experience.

Follow this five-phase approach to help kick-start these efforts:

1. Research your customers, stakeholders, systems and processes to ensure the context of business and consumer issues is appropriate. Research can reduce the risk of misalignment with the problem at hand. At this stage, it is important to expand your existing knowledge and assess customer personas to help resolve existing issues or problems. For example, members of narrow network plans have different needs than patients in large access networks. Likewise, members with different health conditions have very different needs. Collectively, this information will be used to inform your digital and physical CX strategies.

2. Define the customer behaviors that will drive business results. Customer journey maps can help insurers better understand how their consumers interact with their brand across all touchpoints and identify frustrating moments in their customer journeys. For example, a journey mapping exercise for a consumer with limited access to childcare would identify this pain point as a barrier to attending doctor’s appointments.

3. Idesign creative solutions that address key moments in customer journey maps. With so many patients with varying needs and expectations, health plans will need to continually rethink how they understand their consumers’ differences and offer a range of solutions based on those needs. Wireframes, prototypes, and other tools and techniques should be created to clarify potential opportunities and consider all channels, from home or clinic experiences to digital apps and chatbots; in addition to traditional call and portal experiences.

4. Perform user testing on customer experience tools for alignment of business and customer outcomes. Although each consumer group has different priorities and abilities to use the information presented, these tests will allow insurers to see which solutions really work for each audience segment. Throughout the user testing phase, adjusting metrics and ROI based on unique consumer circumstances is essential to gauge impact and future investments.

5. Refine workable solutions while balancing business viability, customer desirability, and technical feasibility. Integrating user experience into agile delivery teams ensures that the customer experience aligns with previously generated design artifacts. Here, it is important to commit to an agile delivery model where new features and journeys are supported monthly. Then they are iterated to improve, improve, and adapt to each unique character. Use UX best practices to manage discovery and journey evolution – and ensure you have the right technology stack and application architecture in place to support continuous evolution for your plan members.

To forge a strong relationship with the modern customer, insurers will need to rethink their CX strategies and prioritize the omnichannel experience journey. Of course, that’s easier said than done. By conducting in-depth stakeholder research, assessing the current state of the customer journey, defining phased solution releases, and reviewing those findings, insurers can frame and ultimately improve their approach to holistic customer experiences.

Kevin Benner is the national healthcare solutions leader at Sogeti, a Capgemini company.