Lessons Learned from the Healthcare Marketplace Rollout

The Affordable Care Act’s centerpiece—the Healthcare Marketplace—has officially rolled out. Perhaps you’ve heard it hasn’t gone over with rave reviews. From IT woes to administration “miscommunication,” the end-users—consumers—have been vocal about their disappointment. Although I fully believe the marketplace technology will be fixed, unfortunately the damage has been done. But as with every misstep, there are valuable lessons to be learned. See below four marketing “T”enets—emphasis on the T—that were violated and how marketers need to uphold them at all costs.

Technology: The website wasn’t ready…and it launched anyway. Today organizations are interacting with an empowered consumer that is connected, mobile, juggling multiple devices and constantly moving in between their offline and online worlds. Oh yes, they also demand a great experience. Not only has technology given consumers more devices and platforms, but it has given them a megaphone to voice their opinions. Technology must be the foundation of your marketing department. Brands must listen, learn, reach and engage consumers across all their touchpoints—and deliver a great and valuable experience.

Transparency: “If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period.” So we are learning that statement by President Obama isn’t exactly true. The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column gave the administration “Four Pinocchios,” which translates to telling “Whoppers.” Organizations and marketers must be honest and transparent. Now more than ever consumers expect openness and are hyper-sensitive to the truth and hyper-vocal when they feel duped. This is especially true for something as personal as healthcare and wellness. Start with transparency from the start—across your organization. And if along the way a crisis arises, address it quickly, openly and transparently. Consumers are willing to forgive if they feel they the response is honest and transparent.

Touchpoints: Website down. Phone number and navigators to the rescue. With the website not functioning, the administration is pushing their 800 number and navigator teams. Phones work fine but do people know how to reach navigators and are they comfortable with this avenue? It’s a reminder to make sure you are reaching consumers across all the touchpoints they use. Not necessarily what you want them to use but what they actually use. And that experience needs to be consistent no matter if it’s a website, Facebook page, call center, mobile app or in-person experience. Organizations might see them as different touchpoints and departments but consumers don’t. Marketers must create a holistic customer experience. Remember: Consumers don’t do business with your org chart, they do business with your brand.

Trust: Hiccups like this erode trust with consumers. Gaining a consumer’s trust should be priority No. 1. IBM recently published a report entitled, “Building Consumer Trust in the New Economy” on the importance of gaining consumer trust and advocacy in today’s socially shared world. A Nielsen survey shows that 90% of all purchases are made because of friend or peer influence. And a Social Annex study reveals 90% of all purchases are subject to social influence. Friends and family don’t recommend products and services from brands and organizations they don’t trust. Gaining consumer trust is vital to your business success.

Businesses today must have excellent—and working—technology that reaches across multiple touch points and allows them to listen, learn, engage and deliver content that is transparent, valuable and engaging. That’s a formula that goes a long way to developing a trusting and lasting relationship.

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