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The other day my family was discussing what is going on in/with Russia.  The discussion turned at one point to the fact that even as the price of gas plummets, interest rates are more than doubled, inflation is soaring and foreign currency is becoming harder to find Vladimir Putin retains an approval rating over 70%.  I made the comment “that’s true loyalty”.  But is it?  If what Putin has fostered is loyalty then it is loyalty gained at the price of satisfaction, no?  I can’t imagine that most Russian citizen’s, given the chance to talk in true privacy with full guarantee of no retribution, would say they are happy nor satisfied with their current living situation.  Yet Putin is raved about in public.  The answers are obvious: coercion and fear.

Does this have anything to do with your business and driving sustained loyalty?  I think so.  I can think of many situations where businesses, or entities, have garnered perceived loyalty, without ever gaining customer satisfaction.  Yet they can be successful and profitable.  So is it good or bad?  For consumers?  For investors/shareholders?  For employees?  Let’s look at one example:  Health Insurers.

How often to do switch health carriers?  Do you analyze different carrier offerings each year before renewing your coverage?  You may say yes, but I’m willing to bet that if you do that you are amongst the lucky of us that work for a large company that offers multiple plans and options.  If you are like most of us who have individual coverage or work for a small business that provides coverage, I am betting you answered no.  The latter group covers about 80-90% of the working population.

Last question:  are you genuinely happy with your health carrier?  Not your doctors and other providers, your health carrier?  Claims processing for example?  If you could, would you switch?  I hear from many people who answer that question with a resounding “yes”.  Many of those who don’t have been lucky enough not to have had any health issues beyond the routine that have forced them to have dealings with their insurance company.  With the advent of the new health care exchanges we all now have the ability to shop around and find something that could work better for us.  But we don’t.

So is it worth the carriers’ time and expense to try and improve their service?  Many who work at these companies know their reputation and understand the situation well.  So they do nothing to improve service and are not really much encouraged to do so.  Obamacare did little to help the health insurer’s reputation, yet have you heard them fighting against the image?  In fact, as a whole they were and are supportive of Obamacare.  Don’t hear much about that, either?  Why?  I suggest it is because they have created a market where these things don’t matter to the end consumer, at least not to the point where the end consumer has voted with their pocket book.  So why change?  Why spend the money?

Perhaps, if money had been spent years ago to find out what truly resulted in quality care from the perspective of the end user, you and I, there would have been greater support for change.  Perhaps if there was a better image of the industry as a whole change would have been bipartisan and the end result would have been a more effective health care system?  By not focusing on customer loyalty AND customer satisfaction, the health insurance industry has done themselves no favor.  Don’t make the same mistake.