Proactively Addressing Customer “Defection”

Where your customer (or patient) has the ability to defect (i.e., chose another health plan, go to another PCP or hospital, chose another drug or pharmacy), what are you doing to predict this and act in advance.  As the old saying goes, it is cheaper to keep a customer than to attract a new one.

In wondering what other industries do, I was a little discouraged to find the following in CSC’s 2004 Customer Intelligence Diagnostic Survey:

“half of the respondent firms never, or almost never, perform defection analysis to identify customers who are on the verge of defection.  Nevertheless, over half of the respondents claim that they have developed targeted programs to prevent defection.”

Even companies that ask about your experience or satisfaction often don’t act on it.  For example, I have stayed at the Detroit Ritz several times for personal travel.  Each time, check-in has been bad.  Every time I check out, they ask how my experience was.  I say it was okay.  They say great and move on.  [Which shouldn’t be acceptable at a place like the Ritz that prides themselves on customer service.]  Never have they asked me for feedback.  So, instead, I complain to the national office and get a gift certificate which costs them money…simply for not acting on my lack of satisfaction.

In healthcare, it may be a little harder to predict, but not filling a maintenance drug or not scheduling a follow-up appointment are definitely bad signs.  A quick follow-up survey to any experience will tell you a lot.   And, as I think I have mentioned before, for healthy people that never experience their healthplan, it makes a lot of sense to reach out to them prior to open enrollment when all they will see is another rate hike.

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