I just love the American Public Radio Show, Marketplace, as a general rule. Every so often, though, they dig up a story that seems to just reflect the Zeitgeist in a most amazing way. Today was one such. In describing how health insurers are starting to adjust to a new competitive reality, they describe how the firms are trying to "gasp" incorporate empathy in the way they deal with customers. Apparently, the winds of competition have caught the attention of insurance call center managers who have figured out that when customers have a choice, actual customer service matters.
The move to create greater empathy in the insurance business is to me yet another manifestation of a move in competition from product/service features or raw cost-benefit calculations to innovations that have to do with the customer experience. Oh, and of course there is a double edged sword to all this — should you happen to fall into a customer category that the insurance comany doesn't want to keep, you may find yourself facing the original minimal levels of service.