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Three Ways to Change the Way You’re Looking at Customer Service Data

/ May 2, 2018 May 2, 2018

Warning! This post contains pie charts. And graphs. And numbers!

If you’re still with me, it’s important for you to know that at Exude, service is king. But in order to provide the best service, an organization must constantly challenge itself to learn and improve. Over the course of the year, our Client Care team interacts with thousands and thousands of employees of our clients. Each interaction is tracked and becomes a data point. But how are we using that data to learn about ourselves, our clients, and most importantly, their employees? What can we do to engage, educate, and empower each employee population?

Here are three ways we’re using data analysis to better understand the needs of our clients and their employees.

Getting Started

Let’s take a look at the illustration below, showing the number of benefits-related customer service interactions our Client Care team resolved from employees of a given client in 2017.

This illustration is an okay start. It shows us the number of times an employee called us regarding each of the following topics: Benefits Questions (i.e. “how does my deductible work?”), Claims Advocacy Requests, Provider Searches, ID Card Requests, and Invoice Reconciliations. It also helps us visualize the areas where the client’s employees need the most assistance. Clearly, these employees need more help with benefits questions and claims advocacy than provider searches and ID card requests. But isn’t there more to the story? How can we use the power of data to obtain a richer, fuller understanding of how to best service our clients?

Step 1: Create a Time Series

Illustration 1 is extremely limited by the fact that it only presents one year of data, and it presents that data in one overall snapshot. Any employer offering a benefits package knows that employees are much more likely to have questions during their annual open enrollment period, or at the beginning of a new plan year when they are utilizing new products for the first time. How do we show the evolution of employee questions over time?

In Illustration #2, we have provided time series data to create a more robust illustration:

This illustration incorporates two important changes. First, we added two additional years of data. Second, we stratified the data by quarters, and put them into a time series stacked bar chart. Now, we’ve uncovered an interesting piece of information that we weren’t able to get from Illustration 1: the number of questions received from the employee population is clearly increasing over time. What is driving this increase? Are employees feeling less comfortable with their understanding of their benefits package? Is the carrier processing more and more claims incorrectly? While adding historical trends and context has improved our ability to analyze the data, we aren’t quite ready to answer these questions.

Step 2: Normalize the Data

In Illustration 2, we saw that the number of questions from the employee population has steadily increased over time. That being said, we know from the client that they have been expanding production and hiring additional staff over the last few years. By merely looking at the number of questions received over time, we are forgetting to account for the increase in the actual number of employees at the organization. In the illustration below, we have accounted for the increasing employee population by dividing each question by the total employee population in each quarter.

In this illustration, our left axis now shows the number of service transactions per eligible employee at the organization. On the right axis, we have mapped the number of eligible employees, over time (represented by the green line). This helps us understand that even though the number of customer service interactions has increased, the volume has not kept up with the number of new employees joining the organization. In fact, we are seeing a decrease in the number of transactions received on a per employee basis!

Think about the two questions we asked after looking at Illustration 2. Are employees feeling less comfortable with their understanding of their benefits package? Is the carrier processing more and more claims incorrectly? After normalizing the data, our questions have totally changed. Why are employees calling less frequently? Are we doing a better job of communicating our benefits program than we did over time? Are employees becoming more educated consumers of health care over time?

Step 3: Benchmark the Data

So far, we’ve taken a basic, two-dimensional service report and unlocked a flood of new information. We now understand that while the number of service transactions is increasing, the client’s employees are actually less likely to call us now than they were in the past. How else can we analyze the data to tell us even more about the employee population?

Benchmarking is a critical tool in employee benefits consulting. At Exude, we extend the benchmarking process to include customer service. By comparing a client’s trends to other clients, we can help their HR department and decision makers understand how their service utilization stacks up. By normalizing the data (step 2), we can easily benchmark against practically anything: clients in similar industries, clients with a similar number of employees, clients operating in similar locations, clients offering a similar benefits package. It’s easy to see how the possibilities are almost endless.

In Illustration 4, we’ve specifically carved out our client’s utilization of Claims Advocacy services and compared it to a benchmark that was developed by studying a group of similarly sized employers in the same industry. When looking at Illustration 3, the employer is comforted by seeing that utilization of claims services per employee (while increasing slightly) has remained generally flat. By comparing to a benchmark, however, we can see in Illustration 4 that similar employers have driven down utilization to levels significantly lower than our client. Armed with this additional information, Exude and the client can do a deeper dive to understand why their employees are not seeing a similar decrease.

Conclusions:

By partnering with a firm that offers unbeatable customer service and employee advocacy, employers can save time and money. HR staff and senior leadership can be freed up to focus on strategic initiatives. Employee frustration with the health care world decreases, helping them focus and reducing absenteeism.

Armed with these three tactics, Exude is harnessing the power of numbers to push the envelope on behalf of its clients and their employees. Together, we can learn more, do better, and allow our clients and their employees to do what they do best: support others and change the world.

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