Do these IT folks have day jobs or are they working full time in this capacity?
I would say about 80% of their time is spent focused on this. I work closely with the manager of that department. We'll do joint training, which is not unheard of but it's not common for digital marketing folks to have joint training with IT. We'll have lunch-and-learn sessions. We'll bring what we learn from conferences back and share it with them and they will do the same. People on my team are learning skills like CSS and HTML and things that maybe they wouldn't have learned before. The IT team is brought in early during our ideation to help us see things from a different perspective.
Budget-wise do you have your own budget or do you get a piece of the IT budget? How does that work?
I do have my own budget, which is great. But the IT people are still part of the IT budget.
Going back to the impetus for the digital push, you're saying it was mostly just an acknowledgment that the world is changing and customers expect to interact with you differently?
It was definitely that. We have always been focused on customer satisfaction scores. We put out surveys twice a year and frankly, a lot of our website scores were lower than what we wanted. Customers were wondering why we couldn't give them personalization and real time responses and chat functionality, etc.That had become the norm in many industries but traditionally healthcare hasn't been as quick to adopt, so we made a concerted effort to push toward that.
We also knew that, with the Affordable Care Act, we had to really focus on the consumer side of the business. Traditionally we had worked mostly with the commercial side of the house, but we saw that, with the individual exchanges, consumers were going to be moving to more of a self-serve model. We had to update our websites with a more user-friendly flow to make it easier for individuals to research their options.
Was mobile support a piece of it from the get-go or was that added later?
We've had a mobile app for several years, but we're actually just in the midst of releasing a new version probably within the next month or so. Mobile has been an increased focus of ours. In the last year we've seen our app downloads increase by 35%. Again, from survey information we received back and just looking at analytics, we realized that needed to be a core area of focus. Over the last six months we've focused on the new release of the app which will be coming hopefully in about a month.
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