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MetLife aims to make the Internet the channel customers prefer, according to vp Sachin Shah, who, with Anthem's Mark Boxer, SVP, e-business, spoke about "The Next Generation of Portals & Self-Service."

Describing MetLife's online self-service objective, vice president Sachin Shah told Customer Service Leadership Forum attendees, "We don't want you on our site for 20 minutes. We want to offer policyholders 'click-and-gone' functionality." Shah, along with Mark Boxer, senior vice president, e-business, Anthem Inc. (Indianapolis), spoke at the session "Are You Ready for the Next Generation of Portals & Self-Service?" at the Insurance & Technology event last week in New York.

With the goal of doing online and better what it currently does offline, according to Shah, MetLife aims to make the Internet the channel customers prefer. The carrier also concentrates on the business objectives of driving cost reduction and process redesign while increasing cross-selling opportunities. At the same time, MetLife strives to know who its customers are, what they are eligible for and what products they may be interested in, Shah explained.

In order to gauge the success of its strategy, Metlife conducts monthly MyBenefits Customer Satisfaction Surveys, he added. MyBenefits is an online resource used by employee customers to manage their non-medical MetLife benefits. The results of the December 2002 survey revealed that 95 percent of users said they are satisfied with MyBenefits, 96 percent said they would recommend it to co-workers, and 60 percent said they are very likely to visit again in the next six months. Additionally, the survey found that 87 percent of those polled said MyBenefits gives them a better understanding of their benefits, 92 percent said they prefer MyBenefits to other channels, and 99 percent said they appreciate their employers for making MyBenefits available.

Anthem is also realizing success with its online strategy of offering services that enable customers to "not only use the Internet for self-service but also to improve their health as well," said Boxer. "Consumers of health care are far more savvy and their demand for online health information and self-service tools is growing and maturing," reported Boxer. According to the e-business executive, Anthem's member portal strategy is to establish and maintain personalized relationships that improve health and increase convenience with value-added online content, tools and self-service.

Anthem's strategy, explained Boxer, is based upon the expectation that Internet adoption will accelerate from 156 million today to 198 million by 2005. Additionally, the carrier recognizes that personalization will extend beyond user profile and permission-based approaches, becoming increasingly sophisticated and leveraging contextual integration that combines silo services into a seamless, integrated Web application.

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