We’re already a week into health insurance open enrollment for 2018. At this point, you might already be looking for a break from all the chaos.

On one hand, insurance providers should rejoice—this is your opportunity to win over millions of new consumers. 2017 open enrollment results showed that 64% of the 9.3 million federal enrollees were either new to the marketplace or actively shopping for new plans.

At the same time, you only have 6 weeks (in most states) to close the sales cycle with new subscribers.

This time constraint, coupled with a sharp increase in call volume, is enough to put pressure on even the most efficient insurance sales/support teams.

But what if open enrollment didn’t have to be so chaotic (for you or your customers)? By transforming customer conversations, you can take the pain out of health insurance enrollment for all involved.

Open Enrollment Is Tougher than Ever

The most obvious difference between this year’s open enrollment period and years past is the duration.

When you managed the first open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act back in 2013, you may not have felt so much pressure with added call volume. But that open enrollment period lasted 26 weeks. Now, you have to communicate with the same volume of subscribers in just 6 weeks.

If the chaos within your call center has intensified for this year, the time span is a likely culprit. However, it’s not the only reason why this year’s open enrollment period is more stressful. Other notable changes include:

  • New verification standards for special circumstances
  • Stricter rules regarding payments saying subscribers can’t enroll until they’re paid current.
  • General price increases compared to previous years.

At first glance, these might seem like problems for the consumer side of open enrollment. But think about how they’ll impact your sales and support teams.

Every new wrinkle to the enrollment process will result in even greater call volumes for your contact center. During a 6-week period of open enrollment chaos, that’s the last thing you need.

There are a couple of traditional answers to these problems. You could hire more support agents (whether they’re outsourced, full time, or temporary). Or you could try to update your IVR system to route calls more efficiently.

Unfortunately, these approaches are costly, inefficient, and outdated. Customer experience expectations have changed significantly in recent years and traditional contact centers aren’t keeping pace.

Don’t waste time trying to force traditional systems and processes to be more efficient. Meet open enrollment demand and set yourself up for continued success by focusing on customer conversations.

Improve Customer Conversation Experiences

It’s not just Millennials. Consumers, in general, are going mobile and are willing to do research to find insurers that can meet them where they are.

That means delivering an enrollment process that doesn’t include frustrating phone calls, inefficient emails, or impersonal contact forms.

Instead, you can provide a conversation experience that enables frictionless communication throughout the entire customer journey.

If customers are in the early brand research stages, they can take advantage of mobile messaging for quick questions. They can interact with your chatbots to walk through any data collection processes. When questions are too complicated for automated responses, customers can make voice or video calls directly within the conversation.

This is the kind of customer experience consumers expect regardless of the brand they’re interacting with, whether it’s an insurer, a retailer, a bank, or anyone else.

But this conversational approach does more than just improve the customer experience. It makes your agents more productive.

Better Customer Conversations Improve Agent Productivity

Relying on phone calls in your contact center naturally limits the productivity of agents. There’s no room for multitasking. They’re limited to individual interactions and are forced to provide a lesser experience in an effort to get to the next call.

When conversations are the primary communication interface, agents can handle multiple interactions at the same time without the same pressure of a real-time phone call.

Think about it from a cost perspective. One study found that handling a single inbound phone call costs your company between $6 and $8. With messaging, the cost of each interaction drops to around $1.

These benefits might prove most helpful during open enrollment, but they extend throughout the entire lifetime of your customers. Instead of worrying about subscribers leaving you next year, build lasting relationships with them by communicating how they want.

At Layer, we make it easier to achieve this vision. If you want to learn more about how the Layer Customer Conversation Platform can help ease the pressure of open enrollment, reach out for a free demo today.