Orlando, Fla. — Health insurance plans–driven by the rapid growth of individual health coverage–increasingly turn to customer service technologies that sophisticated retail business, ranging from consumer products to financial services, have employed successfully for years, most notably Click-to-Chat, or “Chat.”

The growing interest in Chat was in evidence last week in San Francisco at America’s Health Insurance Plans’ (AHIP) Institute 2008, as major technology vendors including Microsoft presented their Chat-based solutions to the nation’s leading health insurance companies.

 Chat technology enables health plan members to communicate online with customer service reps through real-time text messaging, rather than over the phone. Because Chat technology allows service reps to handle more than one customer simultaneously, and provides customers with a detailed record of online text “conversations,” companies are able to reduce operating costs and improve the customer experience with Chat.

“Chat has begun to play an important role for health plans seeking to gain competitive advantage in the market for individual members, as employers continue to drop group health coverage,” says Rob Panepinto, a managing director at Connextions, an Orlando provider of call center services. “Health plans that do not provide Chat as an online tool risk losing valuable opportunities to acquire new members and maintain their brand loyalty.”

But there are some risks associated with Chat, according to Panepinto. “When improperly configured or inappropriately staffed, Chat technology can degrade the customer experience, erode brand confidence, and even drive a customer to a competitor,” he claims.

Source: Connextions

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