Not long ago, UnitedHealth Group admitted to losing 315,000 customers because of poor customer service. Even for a a mega-company like UHG that’s a lot of customers. They have also made a commitment to doing better. So, in the spirit of being helpful, here is some (unsolicited) advice for them to turn around their customer service challenges.
1. Make the process open and honest.
Let people know what they’re doing and why. Make sure their corporate communication is also open. They need to start talking like real people, which means they communicate the good, the bad and the ugly. This will help restore credibility with their various constituencies who no longer trust them.
2. Achieve some fast wins.
They need to figure out where they can make some very quick fixes that are meaningful and helpful to their doctors and patients. The sooner they can show some tangible progress, the better the process will work.
3. Be more than fair.
In situations where there is doubt or disagreement, they need to err in favor of their patients and doctors. It’s cliche that we expect big companies to push around us “little guys” because they can. UHG needs to do the opposite. They need to bend over backwards whenever and wherever possible to show they are really looking out for their customers.
4. Focus on existing customers first.
Forget new acquisitions and aggressive marketing for now. I know this is hard for most companies to consider. But they need to fix their house before they can invite new guests to the party. Again, break the cliche corporate mold and do what many companies are scared to do: Give your existing customers top priority.
5. Get customers involved in the solutions
Don’t assume they can fix all their problems from the inside (or with consultants). Get doctors and patients involved in the fixing process. Start having real conversations with them and keep doing so. Ask questions, listen, take action and then loop-back so people know their input is being heard.
There are no guarantees just like nothing of value comes easy. But if UHG does these things and more they can take some big steps toward winning back their customer’s trust and loyalty.