Q&A With David Shapiro, VP Of Member Experience For Medicare And Retirement, UnitedHealth Group

There is a staggering amount of customer experience work going on in the healthcare industry these days. From providers (the docs), to pharma companies and payers (health insurers), everyone is trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.

One guy who’s figured out a lot is David Shapiro, who wowed members of Forrester’s Customer Experience Council last year with a presentation of how UnitedHealth Group uses journey maps to transform experiences. David is the vice president of member experience for Medicare and retirement at UnitedHealth, and he's one of the speakers at Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East on June 25th and 26th in New York.

In advance of his speech, we put some questions to David about the evolution of customer experience at his organization.

David Shapiro

Q. When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

Read more

Customer Signals For Adapting Experiences

A chemical manufacturer with a solid customer listening program noticed an uptick in complaints about pricing. Unlike many firms, which would take the comments at face value and take action accordingly, this company first stepped back and reflected on its strategy:  it sold premium chemical for advanced applications targeted at particular industries, so it surmised that the company shouldn’t see this kind of feedback. It did some root cause analysis, talking to those customers. It learned that some distributors were selling chemicals for applications in markets better served by off-the-shelf, commodity products. As a result, not only were these distributors driving detractors, which were creating a headwind for selling into their target market, but they were wasting time on low-value sales and more importantly, using valuable resources internally that made the company competitive in target markets (e.g. scientists to help innovative clients discover new applications for the chemicals). The company decided that the right course of action was to re-visit its distributor training and communications programs to better ensure sales teams understood the core value proposition and how to find the high value opportunities.

There are at least a few lessons to take away from this story.

Know your customer experience strategy. Firms often have blanket statements such as “we aim to delight our customers.” When these lack a connection to a company strategy, which should clearly articulate value propositions for specific target markets, firms can spend a lot of time and energy jumping through hoops trying to serve customers it never should have acquired in the first place. A situation that the chemical manufacturer avoided by reflecting on its strategy to direct its activities.

Read more