4‑minute read

While keeping your enrollees’ smiles healthy is our top priority, we also want our dental plans to give them reasons to smile. So how do we do that? We listen, of course. It sounds simple, but with more than 35 million diverse enrollees, capturing their voice can be a bit, well … complicated. That’s why we created an entire team who’s devoted to listening — to what’s working and what’s not, to suggestions, to experiences and to the just plain weird (and wonderful).

To give you an inside look at how our Customer Experience (CX) team transforms your voices into action, we sat down with Marti White, whose most recent titles include Customer Advocate in CX and Manager of Insights for the Marketing team here at Delta Dental.

Q: Before we jump in, can you tell us about your journey at Delta Dental? How did you become interested in CX?

A: I spent my first six years at Delta Dental in the contact center, filling multiple roles from agent to manager. You learn fast in the contact center — it turned me into a very agile person. I became obsessed with customer satisfaction, but wanted a role where I could do it on a larger scale. At that point, the CX team was looking for a Customer Advocate, a position that over the last year allowed me to help improve technology and processes to create a meaningful impact for the customer. Now, as Manager of Insights in Marketing, I’ll continue this work, but widen my efforts to gathering detailed, actionable feedback from our dentists, benefits administrators and brokers, too.

Q: How would you describe the role of a Customer Advocate?

A: In this role, you become a detective and an advocate for the customer. You drill down into customer issues that might not seem like issues at first glance. But Customer Advocates are trained to not take anything at face value. Instead, we take these seemingly disparate issues, find the root cause, and then resolve them to improve experiences for the entire enrollee population.

Q: So, how do you identify these issues? I.e., how do you listen to the customer?

A: It’s important to identify the crucial moments that influence an enrollee’s experience. For us, we’ve been looking at the moments following a dentist visit, a claim processing or an interaction with customer service. We survey enrollees closely following these key moments, so we’re getting their immediate, honest responses.

I spend a good amount of time speaking with customers directly, too. Whether an issue gets bubbled up to me through the contact center, or an enrollee asks to be contacted in a survey, it’s important for me to keep my boots on the ground to make sure I’m still hearing the customer’s voice directly, rather than making assumptions.

Q: Do we use social media feedback to improve the customer experience?

A: Yes, absolutely! We work with our social media team on a daily basis by helping them respond to complex questions, and identifying those issues I mentioned. For example, we recently discovered through a social media post that the payment portal for our direct to consumer plans was refreshing a bit too quickly, making it difficult to pay a bill. We were able to resolve this issue not only for that one person, but also create a better experience for future enrollees.

Q: Because everyone needs dental care, we have a very broad customer base. How do you ensure a great customer experience for such a diverse group? 

A: By researching our customers’ entire journey, we’ve actually found several common factors that help us predict satisfaction among all age groups. Typically, when an enrollee trusts their insurance carrier and their dentist, they’re very satisfied. We also find higher satisfaction when enrollees have a solid understanding of their benefits and they’re actually using them. This is why we focus our studies around enrollees’ relationships with us and their dentist, along with key plan events, like getting started using their plan.

However, we also recognize that people have different dental needs and cost drivers at different stages of their life. By offering a broad range of plans, both groups and individual customers can have benefits that fit their lifestyle and budget.

Q: Speaking of diverse customers — do you ever gather feedback from non-Delta Dental customers?

A: Yes, we hit the streets and gather feedback from people face to face. Many of these people are not our enrollees, and they also might not even have dental insurance. We ask things like “how do you find a dentist you love?” or “what’s most important to you in a dental plan?” It’s a great opportunity to get raw, honest feedback.

Q: What do you think sets our CX department apart from others?

A: We understand that focusing on what customers want now isn’t enough. We also make it a priority to anticipate their needs tomorrow and years down the road. Oh, and we have a lot of fun doing it!


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