What do a television shopping channel and a health insurance company have in common?
Both of them have lots of customers. But do UnitedHealthcare's customers -- the people whom they insure -- feel as kindly toward their insurance company as QVC's customers feel toward QVC when after they just finished buying "Today's Special Value"?
"If you think of the changes in health care, we're really becoming a consumer-focused business," Sue Schick said to me in our Leadership Agenda interview published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer. To learn more about how to serve consumers, Schick, who heads UnitedHealthcare Pennsylvania and Delaware, turned to QVC's Mike George, chief executive of the West Chester-based television and online retailing company.
"Mike has helped me so much," she said. "They know their consumers very well, what their consumers need. They are always focus grouping, they are always learning what their consumers need. He actually opened up his team and let me come tour with my head of consumerism. So a few years ago, we profiled QVC to understand what they do to to understand the needs of their customers.
The head of consumerism that Schick referenced wasn't just from her organization. The official came from UnitedHealthcare's national headquarters in Minnesota.
"What came out of that is that we learned we have to be simpler to deal with," Schick said. "We've been focused over the years on making our business simpler, more personalized and helping our consumers get matched with a provider to provide care. When you think about what are some of the positives to come out of health care reform, it's that consumer engagement and we have QVC to thank for it."