Clearworks Conversations: Mapping the Health Insurance Customer Journey

Our Clearworks Conversations Blog Series features interviews with leaders who we feel have a unique perspective to share. In this blog post, Noël interviews Beckie Brooks, Manager, Strategy – Consumer Experience, Blue Cross of North Carolina.

Noël: Why did your team decide to embark on journey mapping?

Beckie: Let me start out by saying this:  health insurance is a really, really complex and highly regulated industry. And to complicate things even further, our business has multiple business segments with consumers whose experience varies wildly from one another. For example, a 21-year old who utilizes a health insurance agent to shop for an “Obamacare” plan has virtually nothing in common with a 45-year old who works for an employer that makes those decisions for her … or a 65 year old trying to figure out Medicare for the first time. Everyone in the business intuitively knows these immense differences exist, but seeing is believing. We recognized that a cookie cutter approach just doesn’t work, and that journey maps could illuminate why a more scientific, personalized approach to experience was needed.

Noël: Tell me about the importance of engaging stakeholders in this process.

Beckie: Two types of stakeholders come to mind.  One is the internal peers that you work with across the company on a daily basis.  Engaging those internal stakeholders to understand the consumer journey has been super important.  It’s not always easy in a big company, but I think investing the time and building relationships with a goal of developing a common language around a given consumer’s journey really pays dividends in the long run. Ultimately, our Experience team acts as consultants to the business. So for this group of stakeholders we’re focused on earning credibility, becoming trusted advisors.

Then the other type are external stakeholders and business partners with whom we work. In addition to the consumer journey we need to also understand their journey with our company as well to find improvement areas not only for experience but also perhaps efficiency areas, areas needing more efficient processes, removing hassles that also help ultimately remove cost.

Noël: Let’s talk about the first set of stakeholders, your internal stakeholders.  How do you get them engaged?

Beckie: The journey mapping process that we undertook with your great team is, first of all, very engaging; working with internal teams across the company to gain their perspective on the process or the steps or the touch points that occur in the journey. Suppose you could say it was a “help us help you” model. But to even get to that point to have those types of conversations and working sessions, the first engagement was simply explaining the basics:  what journey maps are, how they’re used, how they’re valuable — getting folks excited and on board with the work and then also helping them see the bigger picture.

Then we worked with those teams to get their expertise on processes, touch points and potential areas of hassles for that consumer.  Validating all that information with actual consumers themselves was another part of the process, and it was great to come back to our internal stakeholders and share with them qualitative insights gained.

What has been particularly exciting is seeing internal teams rejoice when their instincts about hassles or pain points were validated, and intrigued when new ones were uncovered. When you begin to have such success, the word really spreads and makes everything a little easier the next time; it’s that credibility that I talked about earlier.

Noël: That’s awesome.  When you think about making the journey map actionable and I know that is super important to your team, what tips do you have for other companies in making sure that maps do become actionable?

Beckie: Not to oversimplify things, but a journey map is no different than a real map – you know, the kind we used to keep folded up in your car glove box before everyone had smart phones. You could unfold that sucker and see Disney World. YAY! But you might live a 20 hour drive from there. BOO! The point of having that map is it makes your trip actionable – it lays out the route, it shows where you can stop for gas or food, it lets you know when you’re off course. Is a consumer journey map really any different? So I suppose my tips would be to make sure to plot your journey properly; realize that the fastest route is not always the best route; expect – and plan for – the unexpected. Oh – and once you arrive, go to Space Mountain first. It still can’t be beat.

Noël: If you think about all the journey mapping work to date, you have been doing this for quite some time, what do you feel most proud of in terms of success?

Beckie: I think it comes back to hearing feedback – especially from lots of new employees – that has trickled in over the past few months. People have learned the CX language, and they’re applying the best practices we’ve put into motion – even when our team isn’t in the room! That’s the best part.

It feels really good to hear secondhand that our maps are being leveraged with new employees, or with seasoned employees who may have not been exposed to this type of tool before. It’s incredibly gratifying to see a return on your investment of time.  It is really fun to see employees actively engaged having conversations, and then even calling out potential solutions right in the moment.

Noël: You are sitting in front of a group of other executives and they are wondering whether they should do journey mapping.  What would you tell them?

Beckie: I would say, definitely do the journey mapping but do so with thought out, clearly defined objectives. Also, make sure that there is investment set aside to implement the next best steps, once the journey mapping exercises have been completed.  Achieving the desired outcomes of the work is more important than just the journey mapping exercise itself.

Noël: What tips would you have for them as they embark on doing journey mapping work?

Beckie: Tips for doing journey mapping work…  Absolutely get the other teams excited and focused on why the work is important and valuable.  Help them see the very end game to the journey mapping efforts.  With your team’s help we were able to articulate the value of journey mapping in addition to just doing the work. We said here is what you get out of it and here is what we are going to do with it and then we went and did those things and then came back and showed that progress.

Also I think having those internal working sessions to document the internal understanding of the processes in the journey, then working directly with those consumers and hearing those stories and then bringing those stories back to your internal stakeholders along with sharing the journey maps is super important.  So building that empathy of the learnings from those conversations from the customer focus groups.  Specifically pointing out stories to help employees understand those specific spots whether they are highlights or pain points in the journey has been really helpful.  I think the stories coming from the focus groups with our customers has been most impactful and makes those journey maps really come to life.

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We love chatting about what we do. Reach out if you want to chat about mapping your customers’ journey!

Sara Dougherty
sara@clearworks.net

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