For Anthem, Inc., which provides health insurance to tens of millions of Americans, processing premium payments efficiently is a crucial profitability driver. Several years ago, however, payments were costing the company too much and causing frustration for consumers. A broad “voice of the customer” initiative conducted by the marketing team identified premium payments as one of the top 10 areas in which Anthem could improve.

“We had operated in a check-and-paper environment for many years,” explains Rick Noble, staff vice president of treasury operations for Anthem. “We rolled out new CSR [customer service representative], IVR [interactive voice response], and Web pay systems through a vendor, and 3 percent of our customers moved to this channel to pay their premiums. Across our millions of customers, that was a lot of individuals, so it was a step in the right direction. But when we looked at industry statistics, we saw that we were falling behind.” In fact, in a survey of customers who were leaving an Anthem-affiliated health plan, 31 percent cited payments as a motivation for switching insurers.

One issue was that consumers who chose to use the Web pay option had to log into the Anthem site to determine how much they owed and when payment was due, but then had to log on separately—with different credentials—to a third-party vendor’s site to actually make the payment. Another challenge was that consumers who wanted to sign up for recurring payments had to request a paper form to fill out and mail or fax in. “We didn’t make that easy for people to sign up for,” Noble says.

Meg Waters

Meg Waters is the editor in chief of Treasury & Risk. She is the former editor in chief of BPM Magazine and the former managing editor of Business Finance.

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