In recent years, we’ve seen individuals from all backgrounds struggle as their cost of living —and, specifically, living while ill — has risen dramatically. Unfortunately, this trend shows no sign of letting up. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), annual growth in national health spending is expected to average 5.1% over 2023–2030, and reach nearly $6.8 trillion by 2030. While this will be driven by factors outside the control of the typical healthcare customer, it will impact individuals and families already weary from growing price tags on everything from nutritious food to essential medical procedures.

More than ever, healthcare organizations must connect customers with services that provide value, while understanding their concerns on a local level. Thankfully, Independent Health recognizes this need in a recent report, “Local Presence, Local Impact: How In-Community Customer Service Helps Independent Health Members, Neighborhoods Thrive.” The report recognizes the increasing importance of customer service in healthcare; praises the benefits of a locally-based workforce; and provides details on how we’ve attained sustainable success in recognizing the connection between communication and community impact.

Skilled customer service can support everything from business retention to brand promotion and improved access to healthcare options. But as cost and service factors continue to affect the industry, customer service’s role in long-term customer retention will be critical to the fiscal stability of health plans.

According to our detailed report, customer retention costs less than customer acquisition; grows a customer’s lifetime value (total revenue from a single individual); and can cultivate a fleet of brand advocates intent on promoting the quality of one health plan over another.

Most importantly, this service fosters loyalty between company and customer. It provides the foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship, and allows healthcare assistance to seamlessly transition into something more welcoming — and more reassuring.

This success can also provide satisfaction for employees hired to the customer service representative (CSR) team, or those associated with this service companywide. Over the years, we’ve found that when customer service is delivered by a workforce sharing the same geographic backdrop as the customers they aim to assist, the impact can be extraordinary, benefiting those on both ends of communication, as well as the communities all parties inhabit.

Consider some of the numbers associated with this approach. In 2022, our Independent Health customers reported a 95% satisfaction rate with the health organization’s customer service, all delivered by a 130-member CSR team residing in Western New York, and from a health organization that, collectively, invested $28 million into its host communities. In that same year, 88% of customer issues were fully resolved on the first call to members of our CSR team.

This success couldn’t be achieved without the formidable trust we’ve cultivated between customer and company. We’re so proud of the service we’re able to provide, and as we continue to navigate a changing industry, we continue this exemplary support — all while deepening our WNY roots.

Download and read our special report.