Recently, I’ve noticed that there is a huge opportunity to fix one of the major complaints that many people have about the health insurance industry — and it can be done by using corporate social networking profiles.
A lot of companies are getting into social networking by creating corporate Twitter and Facebook accounts. A lot of these are just marketing tools, but a few companies handle a portion of their customer support through Twitter.
Comcast in particular has a terrible customer service track record, but for some reason, people receive great service when they send requests to Comcast via Twitter.
Why would the company be more responsive through a social network than over the phone? The simple answer is that the entire world can see what happens on Twitter. If a customer has a problem and it isn’t resolved quickly, millions of people would likely know about it almost immediately. Companies can’t afford anything other than great service when they know that there’s absolute transparency. If you call Comcast on the phone, the worst that can happen is that they lose you as a customer.
Now, let’s apply this to health insurance. Everyone has heard the horror stories about people with good insurance being denied coverage because the insurance companies have to watch their profit margins. The common complaint goes something like this: “They’re a huge corporation, and I’m just one person. They don’t have to listen to me.”
And that’s just from a consumer standpoint. As an agent, you may have had trouble getting your questions answered or getting through to a carrier for other reasons — the company is so large that your call gets lost in the shuffle, you wait too long on hold and eventually decide to hang up, etc.
It’s true that it’s hard to get companies to listen and make time for you and your clients, but it might be a little easier if you aired your issues in front of the entire online world. If you ask a question of a company on Twitter, they can’t sweep you under the rug quite as easily because any record of the conversation will be public.
Of course, this is a completely unproven theory. It’s possible that insurance companies will continue doing exactly what they’re doing now. But the next time you or one of your clients has a dispute with a carrier and you can’t get them to listen, try taking it online. Something tells me the company will take the issue a little more seriously. And if you take it tweet the problem for your client, and it gets solved, then you get to be the hero of the day.
There are way too many insurance carriers to post links to all of their Twitter accounts here. You can generally find a carrier’s account by using Twitter’s profile search, or running a Google search for “Twitter (COMPANY NAME).”
You can also check Twitter directories such as twellow.com. To ask the company a public question on Twitter, just type “@” followed by their username (i.e., “@uhcfeds”), and then type your message. Assuming they have someone monitoring their Twitter account, they should see the message and respond.
Tyler King builds software tools for insurance agents at Zane Benefits. Tyler can be reached at 800-391-9209 or firstname.lastname@example.org.