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Excelling at Digital Self-Service: Blue Shield of California

Blog: Lombardi - Process People



Rapidly scaling your business profitably requires innovative business operations to sustain your growth without compromising on the customer experience. That means you must retain and acquire new customers while your business operations scales up to serve a larger audience – all without any degradation of service. In the banking industry, customer experience is the #1 reason (beating price) why consumers opened or closed an account[i]; both acquisition and retention hinge on this scaled-up experience. Add to that, the #1 source of customer satisfaction comes from consumer banks with the best online service[ii] and you know where to place your bets.

Now as a consumer of services, think about how you want to interact with your service provider – whether it’s your bank or cable company. No one enjoys calling-in and being transferred around, repeating your request to various service associates – or worse – being put on hold for long periods of time. You have come to expect to self-serve and do it quickly and on your own time. So it’s not surprising that those customers who attempt to self-serve, fail, and are forced to pick up the phone are 10% more likely to be disloyal[iii] than those customers who were able to resolve fully their issues in their channel of choice.

Comparing the traditional customer service channels – (phone, fax, mail, email…) to the new digital channels – (e-chat, virtual-assistants, social media, forums…) in the Telecommunication industry yields some interesting insight – up 76% of Telco customers are satisfied with a customer service journey that is completely digital[iv]. That is – one where they did not have to resort to the equivalent of picking up the phone and the service experience was through a modern digital channel. Ultimately, a highly satisfied customer yields more than 2x the wallet share compared to an unsatisfied one[v]. Again, this tells us that getting digital self-service right opens up your company’s road to growth.

Blue Shield of California builds a Digital Self-Service Experience for new members

A great proof-point for excellence in the Digital Self-Service channel is Blue Shield of California. Their mission is to ensure that all Californians have access to high-quality health care at an affordable price. As part of the State of California insurance exchange called Covered California, they wanted to open up the benefits of insurance to those customers that had never been insured before – this meant the need to scale their business to bring in a new class of member. Their goal was to provide an A+ customer experience through a self-service portal that helped their customers view, price and shop for insurance.

Blue Shield of California used IBM Digital Experience software to build the digital channel for their new members. The member onboarding experience was completely revamped with a simple, intuitive and completely self-service Member Portal. Blue Shield of California also had over 1,200 business rules that they centralized in IBM Operational Decision Manager. Centralizing these rules helped reduce the complexity of creating and managing new insurance plans and provided a more customized member experience.

With a completely redesigned member experience that can be operated by the member in a completely self-service manner, Blue Shield of California saw some tremendous scaling benefits – they saw a 3x increase in adoption and new members loved how easy it was to view and manage important personal data – “I love the simple and easy layout and content. This is the first time that I’ve actually seen my HSA balance!” Now their members can actually have access to information that helps make key life changing decisions and be better prepared for the future.


[i] Advancing service in a digital age: Global Consumer Banking Survey 2014, E&Y.

[ii] Advancing service in a digital age: Global Consumer Banking Survey 2014, E&Y.

[iii] Why Your Customers Don’t Want to Talk to You, [iv] Why companies should care about e-care, McKinsey, August 2014.

[v] Advancing service in a digital age, Global Commercial Banking Survey, 2014 E&Y.

Some helpful links:

IBM Digital Experience
IBM Operational Decision Manager 


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