Recognizing mobility and personalization are two important trends in communications and customer care, Independence Blue Cross recently embraced them in an effort to engage its customers and attract news ones. And Brian Lobely, vice president of marketing at the health care insurance company, says its timing couldn’t be better. That’s because individuals can purchase health care reform-eligible products under Obamacare starting Oct. 1.
Independence Blue Cross tapped a company called Relay to help it with mobile engagement. The first challenge this partnership faced was figuring out how IBC could get connected with its customers via their mobile devices, says Matt Gillin, CEO and co-founder of Relay, a platform-as-a-service provider. They decided to use IBC
membership cards as way for customers to opt in to mobile communications when they activate their cards.
Any successful relationship with a customer starts with connecting with them in a way they want to be connected, says Gillin, yet today most businesses require customers and prospects to come to them for information, and that typically involves overcoming a lot of hurdles – such as waiting on hold, providing information over the phone, and/or locating what they need on a website. The better way is to have a private line between the customer and the company, says Gillen of Relay, which has 18 million users on its platform.
“It’s a brand new way of communicating,” he says.
IBC initially used the mobile platform solely to deliver explanations of benefits and deliver wellness information to its subscribers. But the company is now evaluating every single piece of information that goes out of the organization and considering whether it makes sense to deliver it via Relay, Lobely says. The next step, he says, is to send IBC subscribers targeted, personalized messages. IBC is also accessing how Relay can help it acquire new customers.
For example, IBC could allow subscribers to invite a circle of friends into a conversation about the new health care rules on IBX Wire, a free, private, personalized message board launched in January for all commercial Blue HMO, PPO, and traditional Blue Cross members, and then push more information to all IBC and non-IBC subscribers in that conversation, says Lobely. There will be a lot of questions in light of the health care reform, notes Gillin, so this will enable IBC to provide education on that and “wow them with that experience.”
The end goal, says Lobely, is to get employees already insured through IBC to demand their employers keep IBC as their insurer. There’s also the opportunity here to win over new subscribers, possibly including folks who do not currently have health care insurance, Lobely says, adding that the number of health care insurance subscribers will more than triple when the reform goes into effect.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi