Coventry, other insurers deliver bad customer experiences

Coventry Health Care ranked third among companies delivering bad customer experiences, according to a new survey from customer experience research and consulting firm Temkin Group.

The survey of 10,000 U.S consumers also found health plans have much room for improvement when it comes to responding to a bad experience. More than 30 percent of customers said health plans did a poor job recovering from a bad experience, while only 17 percent said they delivered good service recovery.

Temkin Group looked at recent consumer interactions with 268 companies across 19 industries. The health plan industry included Aetna, Anthem (BCBS), Blue Shield of California, CareFirst (BCBS), Cigna, Coventry Health Care, Empire (BCBS), Health Net, Highmark (BCBS), Humana, Kaiser Permanente, Medicaid, Medicare, TriCare and UnitedHealthcare.

During the previous six months, Coventry Health Care delivered bad experiences to 21 percent of its customers, according to the survey. Seventeen percent of Empire (BCBS) customers had a bad experience in the past six months, followed by 15 percent of Cigna customers, and 13 percent of customers at both Medicaid and Health Net.

However, the survey noted that bad experiences and service recovery efforts minimally affect the spending patterns of health insurance consumers, due to the contractual nature of the business. Only 23 percent of health plan customers reduced or stopped spending after a bad experience, while 28 percent decreased their spending after a health plan's poor response to a bad experience.

Noting that companies hear more about bad experiences than good ones, the survey revealed major biases in customer feedback. But Humana bucked the trend, with more of its customers reporting good experiences than bad experiences.

Although health plans are less likely to see a drop in customer spending than other industries, the study said they should recognize that good service recovery efforts can help mitigate a bad experience. Now, more than ever, insurers must learn how to respond effectively after problems occur, as they continue to experience waves of Affordable Care Act -related complaints coming from customers who struggle to enroll in or use new health insurance coverage.

And as more consumers reach out to insurers through social media sites to complain, insurance companies should follow several rules for what not to do when responding to negative customer feedback, including adding fake positive reviews to counterbalance a negative one or attacking the consumer with an overly emotional response, as FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

For more:
- here's the survey announcement

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