October 15, 2010


 GHLIT surveys plan participants about customer service

Responses guiding website redesign, assessment of phone system

Posted Oct. 1, 2010

The AVMA Group Health and Life Insurance Trust recently surveyed plan participants to determine how well the GHLIT is meeting their expectations for customer service.

"It was rewarding to learn that a significant majority of participants who had contacted customer service within the preceding six months considered their experience to be good or very good," said Dr. Carolynn T. MacAllister, a GHLIT trustee and chair of the Trust's committee on customer service. "More importantly, we gained valuable insights into those areas that could use some additional attention to ensure that future interactions rank even higher."  

Range of experiences

Cameron May Group sent the survey to 4,288 GHLIT participants for whom the Trust had e-mail addresses, resulting in 666 usable responses between June 23 and July 14. The survey covered two major elements of the customer service experience:  
  • Primary communication channels: the GHLIT website and automated telephone system
  • Attributes of customer service representatives: timeliness of response and follow-up, friendliness, and clarity of explanations

Overall, 76 percent of respondents rated their customer service experience as "good" or "very good." When asked what influenced their satisfaction level, respondents ranked friendliness the highest, followed by timeliness of response, clear explanations, and appropriate follow-up when needed.

Relevant to the website, 71 percent of respondents who had visited www.avmaghlit.org in the preceding six months were "somewhat satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their experience. When asked which areas could positively impact their satisfaction level in the future, respondents most often cited the need to make navigation more user-friendly and to improve the ease of accessibility or access to comprehensive information.

Of those who had contacted customer service via phone in the preceding six months, 82 percent were "somewhat satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the experience. Areas for improvement centered on the numerous prompts required to navigate the system. Among the other issues that impacted satisfaction levels were long response times, need to call back repeatedly, inconsistency of information, and lack of follow-up. 

Blueprint for improvement

The GHLIT is collaborating with its business partners—Aetna Signature Administrators, provider network; Harrington Health, claims administrator; HealthPlan Services, billing and enrollment administrator; Medco, pharmacy benefits; and New York Life Insurance Co., insurance carrier—on short- and long-term strategies to eliminate the areas of concern with customer service and to enhance the overall experience. 

"We are taking aggressive, proactive steps to resolve existing concerns and establish best practices to ensure that our plan participants enjoy a level of customer service that consistently exceeds industry norms for overall quality and satisfaction," Dr. MacAllister said.

Already under way is a comprehensive redesign of the GHLIT website and an assessment of the automated phone system. Participants can expect to see noticeable improvements to both in the near future.

The GHLIT and its business partners are compiling best practices to improve training and to guide policies and procedures that will deliver high-quality of customer service regardless of the communication channel. The GHLIT will establish metrics for continually measuring performance to ensure every aspect of customer service is meeting or exceeding benchmarks.

"We will continue to solicit input from our participants on the quality of our customer service, including a follow-up survey to evaluate how well we've addressed areas of concern," Dr. MacAllister said. "Participant feedback is invaluable. It provides us with a blueprint for improving customer service so that it exceeds expectations and ensures every experience with the AVMA GHLIT is positive."

New York Life Insurance Co. underwrites the GHLIT insurance program. Veterinarians and veterinary students can obtain more information—including plan details, rates, exclusions, limitations, eligibility, and renewal provisions—or find a GHLIT agent by calling the Trust office at (800) 621-6360.

Information on GHLIT's benefits is at www.avmaghlit.org.