Contrary to popular belief, customer relationship management (CRM) tools are not limited to sales and service case tracking. Although CRM platforms were originally developed to manage the sales process, the tools available in the platform can be applied much more broadly — to any relationship or process an organization may want to track and manage. Health insurers benefit from taking advantage of these tools because they have many more complex relationships than the average organization and because those relationships require increasingly detailed tracking and management.

While most health plans already have a CRM platform (or five) in use across their sales and service departments, they limit these tools to a very narrow set of tasks. That's generally because they don't know how effective a unified CRM platform can be to other facets of their business — not to mention the incredible process transformation that can happen when bringing data from those functions together into a single system.

The Value of a Customized CRM

Let's say, for example, that you could bring your members' shopping, service, utilization, wellness, and communication histories together into a single profile in a usable system like a CRM. In that case, you have a platform that can provide context to any interaction with that member and drive the seamless experience that all carriers are chasing.

That's just one example: These systems don't have to be limited to a single audience or business process. With some clever configuration and help from plug-in apps, the relationships the CRM platform manages can include any external constituency with whom you have a complex relationship. In the world of the health payer, that can include audiences such as brokers and providers, whose relationships with the payers are becoming rapidly more complicated as health reform efforts move forward.

Consider the following ways your CRM could provide value to your health plan beyond sales:

1. Unify Cross-Platform Experience

Companies spend millions in pursuit of a seamless customer journey with, frankly, very little to show for it. Most never realize that their CRM platforms, properly configured and integrated, could be the systems to facilitate these journeys and to greatly improve their members' experiences.

Your CRM platform is capable of uniting disparate back-office systems to manage member experiences on a single, user-friendly platform. Whether clients engage with the company online, over the phone, or in person, carriers can leverage the CRM to provide the necessary context for these, and other, interactions. This information also helps health plans more proactively manage these client relationships — for instance, reaching out to a member before he or she decides to change coverage.

2. Manage External Relationships

The CRM platform is designed out of the box to document all communications with prospective customers and to help you manage the process related to building on that relationship until a sale is made. It begins with entering a lead into your system, even if that lead is merely a name and phone number. Once you have made contact and established interest, you convert the lead into an opportunity — moving one step closer to a sale. From there, you can track every phone call, every email — every single interaction in any medium. This record is invaluable in the sales process because it gives you the information you need to move toward your goal: the sale.

But what about when the prospect becomes a customer and, in the case of an insurer, a member? Why should that level of documentation stop just as your relationship is getting deeper and more complex?

While selling plans is important, prospective customers are not the only relationships insurers need to keep up with. Every broker, every provider, every member has reams of data that need managing in order to maintain all these complex, multiparty relationships.

When you configure your CRM platform to manage these relationships and to incorporate all the available data on your audiences into one system, all the inaccessible information stored on your enormous mainframe is suddenly accessible on a user-friendly platform. Doing this enables you to collect even more data, building the profiles of your audiences that enable you to more effectively manage those you work with — be they members, brokers, or providers.

3. Support Targeted Outreach

Proactive outreach has long been an important part of marketing. But outreach doesn't have to end when the sale is made. That's because you can utilize the marketing tools available in the CRM to create a comprehensive outreach platform that can proactively target, automatically execute, and continuously track outreach efforts across the life cycle of your relationships.

With a CRM platform configured for multiple audiences and populated with comprehensive profiles of each, you can take your outreach effort to the next level, seamlessly delivering that frictionless journey. For members, outreach might include care management and wellness program communications or suggestions, billing information, and approval notifications. For brokers and providers, proactive outreach might cover educational opportunities, contract and licensing reminders, renewal notices, and alerts on the status of the members for whom they are responsible.

A properly set up CRM platform gives you actionable data. Tracking and analyzing your audiences' behavior can now be turned into outreach campaigns, new educational or partnership initiatives, and automated renewal and licensing programs. Payers can track all communications, build comprehensive profiles of all their constituents in one place, and integrate with the CRM's inherent communication tools or connected phone or chat systems. Further, by compiling a comprehensive history of all constituents in one place, you can turn your CRM into a foundation for more efficiently managing all relationships across their entire intertwined life cycles.

Interested in learning more about the merits of CRM beyond the sales team? Check out the details on Colibrium's Forward™ Apps. With the right mindset and a bit of ingenuity, carriers can take sales-oriented CRMs and turn them into much more.