Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Tag: Customer Service (Page 1 of 3)

Capturing the voice of the customer

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!


Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for updates as we roll out exciting new features for your group.



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Customer service update from Delta Dental

We’re updating our IVR system to provide better service

We’re updating our interactive voice response (IVR) system to deliver quality service faster.

Callers can expect improved call routing and easier navigation, plus our new system will automatically route callers through the system (no matter which number they dial) based on their unique member ID. For instance, if an enrollee calls the number for a product they are not enrolled under, the system will re-route them to the correct queue.

As we deploy this new system, our current phone system will still be in place as a backup to support a seamless transition.

As an Enterprise, our focus is on continuously improving overall customer experience, and this is just one way we’re working to make your experience with Delta Dental even better.

Five dentists your enrollees won’t find in our networks

2-minute read

At Delta Dental, we don’t lease any of our dental networks. In fact, our Professional Relations department specializes in developing close relationships with our providers to ensure quality care for your enrollees. This Halloween season, we’re showing you what not to expect in our networks — and that dental visits might not be so scary after all.

Mother and daughter carving pumpkin


Here are some doctors enrollees won’t find in our networks:

  1. Philip Sherman, Finding Nemo

Okay, so P. Sherman might not be your run-of-the-mill villain, but why would anyone want to visit a man who lets his niece torture adorable sea creatures? Plus, enrollees can find a credentialed network provider easier than getting “just keep swimming” stuck in their heads with our find a dentist tool.

  1. Stuart Price, The Hangover

While Stu seems like a stand-up guy, enrollees probably don’t want to look up from the chair and see a dentist with a missing tooth, a knot on his head and point-blank taser wounds on his neck. Ouch.

  1. Wilbur Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Unlike Willy Wonka’s father Wilbur, we don’t believe that “lollipops ought to be called cavities on a stick.” While our dentists want patients in great oral health, they don’t use scare tactics to achieve wellness. Instead, our dentists encourage regular preventive care and good oral hygiene to combat plaque and decay. (For wellness tips to share with enrollees, check out our SmileWay Wellness Program.)

  1. Orin Scrivello, Little Shop of Horrors

Arguably the most evil dentist character ever played, Orin is the exact opposite of what you’ll find in our networks. In fact, we have a whole team of dental consultants on staff dedicated to reviewing claims and preventing fraud, waste and abuse.

  1. Dr. Mindbender, G.I. Joe

There’s no mind bending or brain scrambling here — thanks to our enrollee Online Services! Enrollees can log in at to view their benefits, check claims status and even look up average submitted fees for common services with our Fee Finder tool.

Want more tips like these? Subscribe to Word of Mouth, our newsletter for benefits administrators, human resources professionals and businesses.

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Have you had a service meeting lately?

A checkup you won’t mind … you might even enjoy

Just like we encourage enrollees to visit the dentist regularly to keep their smiles healthy, we want to help your bottom line stay healthy too! That’s why we suggest our mid- and large-sized groups meet with us every year — virtually or face-to-face — to evaluate plan performance, review reports and address any questions.

You might be wondering, “Why do I need a meeting when I can review the reports myself?” Or maybe you’re thinking, “My plan is running smoothly, there’s no reason to meet.” Well, here are a few reasons why service meetings are so great (besides getting to chat with your awesome Delta Dental team of course).

You can be proactive.
When evaluating your plan performance, you don’t want to wait for a big issue to arise before intervening. We can help point out the red flags when we review your reports together. For example, we might notice a decrease in utilization for D & P services. We can not only highlight this, but we can also offer solutions, so you can help prevent a spike in major services from happening down the road.

You get tailored support.
No two annual service meetings are the same. Based on your group’s unique needs, we can also provide materials to help you educate enrollees. If your enrollees are struggling to stay in-network for instance, we offer a suite of materials to help them find an in-network dentist. Or if we notice you’ve had a lot of questions about claims recently, we might take time this to review claims examples with you.

It’s a timesaver.
Don’t like meetings? Here’s the good part – we’ve already put in the time carefully reviewing your plan performance before we meet, so we’ll only highlight the information you really need to know. When we chat, we can focus on your successes and offer solutions to improve utilization.

Whether you’ve been with us for years, or just a year, we encourage you to talk with your account manager. And remember, you can reach out to us any time (not just for a service meeting)!


You’re more than a number

From receptionist to recruiter, and now a VP of Sales, Melissa Fullerton shares why she’s stayed with Delta Dental for 20+ years — and why you might want to stay with us too.

Q: What positions have you held at Delta Dental?
A: I have been employed by Delta Dental for 20 years, and during that time I have had the opportunity to fill many different roles here. Working in the dental field for many years while in college, it was a natural transition to begin working at Delta Dental as a receptionist while finishing my degree. After college, I quickly moved into account management followed by provider recruitment, Director of Account Service and now a Vice President of Sales. What began as a temporary assignment quickly became much more than that for me.

Q: How do you think playing all of these different roles helps you serve the client today?
As different as all those roles seem, every position here is equally important and serves the client. The fact that I started out in service was an advantage. I saw firsthand that the entire company has a stake in providing excellent customer service, whether you are client-facing or not. I appreciate the roles other departments play in obtaining and maintaining our client relationships at every level — in the end we’re all about reaching our sales goals by building relationships and providing world-class service.

Q: What three words would you use to describe the company?
A: Unified. Ethical. Growing.

  • While we have offices from coast to coast, we’re one unified team. No matter what region we’re from, we celebrate one another’s successes and help each other out.
  • We’re ethical because we’re transparent with clients and conduct ourselves in a manner that is approachable and collaborative. When challenges arise, we turn those into opportunities making our clients longtime fans.
  • In an ever-changing marketplace it is necessary to accept change as an opportunity for growth. We aren’t waiting to react to market changes, we’re setting the pace and thinking of new ways to serve our customers.

Q: Speaking of the ever-changing marketplace, what are some ways we’re staying competitive?
The needs of the customer are always changing. And, the customer is not just one person — it’s the benefits administrator, the enrollee, the broker, the provider — everyone. Delta maintains its competitive edge in a number of ways, including an even greater focus on wellness initiatives and customer experience. In fact we have entire department focused on the customer experience, creating new ways to make our plans even easier for people to purchase and manage.

Q: What’s a challenge you overcame for a client that you’re especially proud of?
We had a new group join us recently right before open enrollment. At their request, we duplicated their current coverage. However, because they requested a non-standard plan, we needed to get it filed with the state in record time. Normally, it takes about eight weeks just for the state to respond, but we had just two weeks to have the plan approved and up and running. This is unheard of in our world. All of our people came together, and with the help of the state and the client, we were actually able to implement the group on time.

Q: Is there a particular interaction you’ve had with a customer that stands out? A: On a personal level, I’ve shared a lot of life experiences with clients. I’ve comforted them when they’ve lost loved ones and celebrated milestones they’ve reached — attending both funerals and weddings. In fact, a few years ago, a client and I were going through a similar personal challenge. We started sharing our ups and downs, and before I knew it, we had a standing meeting outside of work.

Q: What’s the longest standing client relationship in your area? What do they say about Delta Dental?
A: We have a client who’s been with us for more than 25 years. The thing is, you can’t stay complacent — you have to consistently deliver outstanding service. They’ve gone out to bid a couple times, and we’ve had to adapt to not just what they want now, but what they’re going to want five years down the road. In addition to the high level of service we’ve provided over the years, they’ve also told us that how we’ve handled roadblocks — both theirs and ours — has been the key to our enduring relationship. There is always a solution.

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