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CXBuzz Interview With Brian Edwards, Director of Customer Experience at GEHA

Hi Brian, tell us about yourself and your background.

Hi Alon, I am a Kansas City native (Go Chiefs and Royals!), have a wife and two girls, and enjoy investing time with family, church, and the community.  Professionally, I am currently Director, Customer Experience at Government Employees Health Association (GEHA), a leading health insurance company exclusively serving federal employees.

What is the biggest misunderstanding about customer experience, in your opinion?

There are two key misunderstandings that I often run across –

  1. This difference between Customer Experience (comprehensive customer journey) and Customer Service (key touchpoint within the journey) and
  2. Viewing Customer Experience as a fluffy concept that’s a secondary business driver vs. a primary strategy that’s tightly correlated to business outcomes.

The perception of the latter continues to improve as consumerism continues to grow and competitive differentiation opportunities become more scarce across industries – but there’s still room for improvement.

What are some of the newer CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?

In my industry, healthcare – particularly health insurance – some of the trends that are improving the customer value and personalization capabilities are things such as customer analytics solutions (predictive analytics, text analytics, etc.).  I am also seeing a trend in more comprehensive solutions that give health plan members more flexibility to meet them where they are and in the channel they prefer without losing continuity of where they left off in the journey.  There are several companies surfacing that are offering an integrated solution with high-tech digital / self-service plus high-touch proactive clinical and customer service capabilities.  These are some of the solutions that I believe can create a more meaningful, personalized and easy interaction for customers with their health plan.

What can companies do to improve customer loyalty and retention?

Four things come to mind, Make sure they:

  1. Know and understand their Audience.
  2. Make sure customers appreciate their business.
  3. Continuously working on enhancing the experience of their customers.
  4. And when they “get it wrong” the company is committed to “making it right”.

What do you think is most relevant and why: CSAT (customer satisfaction score), NPS (net promoter score), or CES (customer effort score)?

They are all meaningful measures that all have their purpose.  Overall, CSAT is the most relevant to me.  I know there’s a growing trend in measuring CES…although effort has it’s merit, it cannot stand alone in my opinion. There may be reasons beyond ease that makes one choose or stay with a company, depending on what’s most important to them.  NPS is also a solid loyalty measure given its wide use and ability to benchmark across industries, but focusing only on the extreme sentiments (Detractors and Promoters) may sometimes misrepresent some core opportunities or successes.  I believe CSAT provides the truest depiction of where the comprehensive “experience needle” is, without some of the volatility the construct of NPS can sometimes introduce.

How can companies better use social media in the era of customer-centricity and personalization?

Actively monitoring, engaging and responding to customer issues is the best way companies can utilize this channel.  To a degree, depending on the industry, customer may expect some level of functionality or engagement through these channels.  However, they are primarily using these channels to communicate there sentiments about a company and be heard by their circle.  Companies must have the technology and internal processes to mine and quickly respond to customers when adverse sentiments surface – and demonstrate to the social communities at large that they are doing so. 

What is your opinion on AI-based chatbots to handle customer support?

I believe they have their place, so long as the support they are augmenting is for very simple, transactional things that don’t require or are prone to human emotion.  Checking your balance is fine for chatbots.  Resolving a billing issue is not.

What was the best movie you saw that has come out during this past year?

Black Box (Blumhouse Productions). I am a fan of twisty thrillers and this one really fits the bill.

Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?

I prefer an aggregate CX metric that factors in the key drivers of satisfaction for that particular industry.

About the author

Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons is the CEO & Co-Founder of PR Soprano and the editor of CXBuzz parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.


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