A keen focus on the customer experience has proven to be a key differentiator for companies that wish to stay competitive in their respective markets.

The term — which encompasses how clients interact with a product or customer service system — is used to indicate that companies care about their consumers. They want them to have an easy time using their products. They want to offer reliable services.

Over the past few years, client experience has become more of a priority for workers’ comp service providers. Many in the industry want to help clients make the claims process more efficient and to drive better, more cost-effective outcomes for injured workers.

“We’re … uncovering what our client experience strategy is going to be and how we’re going to tackle that,” said Stacey McKee, senior vice president of client experience at Optum Workers’ Comp and Auto No-Fault. “It’s an interesting dynamic in the workers’ comp space.”

By focusing on client experience, workers’ comp service providers can increase efficiency and improve their services. Clients benefit from easy-to-use systems and more efficient care, allowing insureds to get workers back on the job in a more efficient manner.

The History of Client Experience

The idea for customer experience roles can be traced back to consumer marketing theories from the 1960s. Companies were seeking strategies to build customer loyalty, and they pivoted from thinking about products to thinking about how customers interacted with their products and the business as a whole. It didn’t just matter what they sold; it also mattered how they sold it — and how they serviced customers throughout the process.

In the past decade or so, a handful of brands have heavily invested in customer experience — to great results. They’ve built a large base of loyal customers by prioritizing their needs. McKee points to Amazon’s push to make their boxes easy to open, break away from tape and fold up for recycling as one example of a company that has responded to client needs effectively.

Stacey McKee, senior vice president of client experience at Optum Workers’ Comp and Auto No-Fault

“Those tiny details are the things that customers want, and they want them to be consistent,” she said.

“If you think about the brands that we all associate with high customer loyalty or positive brand identities — Zappos, Amazon, Apple — all of those focus on the customer experience.”

As an industry, workers’ comp has only just begun to embrace improved customer experience as an essential tenet of the business. McKee stepped into her role after more than two decades at Optum. “It still feels new for workers’ comp,” she said. “I think we’re going to see it take off.”

Unique Client Experience Challenges in Workers’ Comp

Optimizing customer experience in workers’ comp comes with a number of challenges.

For starters, the industry doesn’t serve just one stakeholder. If you run a fast food company, your customers are all people who want to buy food. If you’re a workers’ comp service provider, you’re serving insureds, adjusters and injured workers. That’s three different customers, at minimum.

“We’re all interacting with different consumers. And so figuring out how to make sure that you’re delivering to all those customer populations is really critical,” McKee said.

One of the biggest hurdles for customer experience professionals in the industry is determining what each of these stakeholders wants. Fortunately, they don’t tend “to be very mysterious,” McKee said. Insureds want to help injured workers get back to work. Adjusters want to administer and close claims. Injured workers want to heal and receive their benefits in a timely fashion.

“It’s not like they’re keeping a secret and they want you to guess what’s going to make them happy. Customers are very open about, ‘This is what we need, when we need it, how we need it.’ ”

For all three, prioritizing easy-to-use technology and consistent customer service is key to pleasing customers and building loyalty.

“Customers really just want simplicity,” McKee said. “They want you to focus on what they need and what they want, and they want you to be easy to work with.”

Once a company has made its service efficient to use, the next step is helping customers trim costs. In workers’ comp, that could be through improving return-to-work programs, preventing injuries or otherwise improving claims outcomes.

“A lot of what we’re hearing from customers is that everyone’s looking to trim costs and be more efficient, so they want partners who are going to help increase their operational efficiencies. They don’t want to work with partners that are going to make their processes more complex,” McKee said.

Benefits of Investing in Client Experience

For companies, the value of investing in their client experience is clear: It can improve loyalty and prevent clients from moving on to competitors. “You want to make sure you’re increasing your customer loyalty,” McKee said. “A lot of companies are using it as a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors.”

On the customer side, the benefits come in the form of improved experience, increased efficiency and, hopefully, reduced costs gained from partnering with an experienced workers’ comp service provider.

McKee believes that a strong customer experience starts with each interaction a client has with one of a company’s employees. “Any interaction you have with a customer, you’re going to impact them either positively or negatively,” she explained. “You have to take action on it and make sure that you create solid plans to execute on what your customers are saying they need from you.”

Another way to improve customer experience? Better technology. Whenever companies in workers’ comp create new digital portals, leaders should work closely with their team to consider how they can be made easy-to-use and visually appealing for clients. One idea suggested by McKee is to put mock-ups of new features in front of client focus groups to get feedback and improve the experience.

“We ask, how can we make it fewer clicks? How can we make it very intuitive and very visually appealing?” she said.

At the end of the day, customer experience is about optimizing and improving the simple features clients interact with most. Investing in fancy, overly complex tools might seem like a good move, but most clients are looking for reliable, easy-to-use day-to-day services.

“There’s a very narrow window of increasing customer loyalty between meeting an expectation or exceeding it,” McKee said.

“If you’re striving to exceed the expectations, you’re chasing something that you may not ever be able to attain, because the reality of what customers really want is for companies to meet their expectations consistently. If you do that, then you’ll have them loyal until the end of time.” &

The post Why Client Experience Is Essential in Workers’ Comp appeared first on Risk & Insurance.

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