“Not Every Brand Is Going To Be Loved But You Can Still Have Loyal Customers:” HCF CMO

“Not Every Brand Is Going To Be Loved But You Can Still Have Loyal Customers:” HCF CMO

There’s probably only two reasons most of us think health insurance. One: when the (expensive) premium comes in and two: when we get sick. Neither, it should be said, great customer experiences. But even if your brand is deemed largely unlikable you can still make customers loyal to it.

John Bastick
Posted by John Bastick

That was the message from health insurer HCF’s CMO Jenny Williams who was speaking at last Friday’s Daze of Disruption conference in Melbourne.


Williams cited the way we humans fall in love – we don’t fall in love with the person per se, rather we fall in love with the way they make us feel. It’s the same with brands – customers may not love your product (or high premiums) but if you make the process easy and seamless then you’ll win in the customer engagement stakes.

“If you want to be a loved brand you have to make the customer feel good in the process of dealing with you,” Williams said.

“As a health insurer you have plenty of touchpoints with customers and the fascinating thing about that is that there are a lot of customers who do actually love us. And the reason for that is when something does go wrong they can get on with dealing with the really horrible thing that has happened to them. If they don’t have to deal with the cost and the negotiations. It’s about going that extra mile.”

Williams cited families who had babies through the private system. “Our most unprofitable customers,” she revealed, “because having a baby in the private system is a lot more than they’d pay in premiums in 10 years. What we also know is if you’ve had a baby and it’s been a good experience you and probably your kids will be our customers for life.

So rather than be resentful that we’ve just had to pay out an awful amount of money for you to have a baby, we can embrace that situation; people actually talk about ‘being born to HCF’ and that’s the promo, for us that’s the best promotional of all,” she said.

Williams also touched on technology and digital disruption at HCF – a large, slow moving legacy business. “It’s hard for huge business to be digitally agile,” she noted.

Williams also shot down the idea that customers who proved they ran 10kms a day on their Fitbit would and should be entitled to a discounts off their premiums.

“I get all these developers approaching me with this app and another that show what sort of exercise people do. But if one more person does that I’m going to smack them. Do you not think we wouldn’t have thought of that if we could? We can’t do that, it’s not risk-rated insurance, we can’t discount based on how fit and healthy you are.”

An alternative, argued Williams, would be for health insurers to monitor customers’ claims and send them appropriate literature supporting that.

“Based on what you’re claiming we could send you information that if you did these certain sets of exercises you wouldn’t have these problems that you are claiming for – is that too creepy? You’re telling us that you’re going to the chiropractor every other day, so maybe we could send you some exercises on how to strengthen your core. Are you going to be upset by that because we’re not using any data that you’re not telling us already?

It’s those sorts of decisions where technology can help us deliver a better experience for people but I understand that not everybody feels the same way about the acceptance of that experience, but over time I think we will get more accepting of it.

“But it’s a massive conundrum and humans can make those sorts of decisions far better than machines ever will. Machines are smart but they don’t have feelings and that’s technology’s biggest problem,” Williams said.