The Health & Wellness Customer Service Disconnect

Last month, I was home from work recovering from a surgical procedure. As I was unable to sit up or really concentrate on anything substantive, I ended up watching daytime television. Most daytime television is targeted at women. What I noticed most during the programs I watched was the number of commercials for health & wellness products, including skin care products, weight loss products, cosmetics, and supplements. There were main two themes in all of these commercials: The products would all make you look and/or feel younger and were “all natural.” What these ads did not say was how they worked, what ingredients they were made with, and why they would work.

Last week, I was in a large well-known bookstore standing at the “Information” desk seeking, shockingly enough, information. I needed to special order a book. Unfortunately, no one was at the desk. I looked around the area and could not find a single employee. This went on for five minutes. I eventually walked to the back of the store where I ran into an employee who grudgingly agreed to help, although he also pointed out that handling book orders was “not his job.” By the time I found him both my patience and that of my three-year old daughter had worn thin. I eventually ordered the book, although the employee could not provide me with any information about when I could expect to receive it.

What do these two stories have in common? They illustrate a common theme that runs through the consumer’s retail experience today, i.e., incomplete information and no customer service to provide it.

Given the fact that we are bombarded with information from every angle, it’s ironic that health and wellness consumers are not readily provided with the information they need to make intelligent choices about the health & wellness products they purchase for themselves and their family. Try looking for the ingredients on that expensive jar of moisturizer you bought last month. Even if the ingredients are included on the jar, do you understand what they are and what effect they may have on your body? Good luck finding the answer.

Before the death of customer service, you’d simply ask the salesperson at the cosmetics counter. But as illustrated in my story, you’d have to find one first. And even if you find one, it’s questionable if this person will be able to provide you with the answers you want.

So what are your options:

1. Educate yourself through your own research.

2. Find someone to provide you with the information.

The first option, while viable, requires something most people don’t have – time. Time to research the products and their ingredients. Time to investigate whether the products are safe and do what they say they will. Time to determine if the products are indeed all natural.

If you don’t have time to do the research yourself, your other option is to purchase your family’s health and wellness products directly from a distributor and consultant who can not only provide you with the products you want, but can also provide you with what the retail market cannot, and does not provide readily, i.e. information about their products, including their ingredients, why they are safe, why they provide the benefits they promise, and why they truly are “all natural.”

In addition to providing consumers with an education, such consultants also provide consumers with the type of customer service that demonstrates to the consumer that they are more than just a “sale,” but a whole person whose health & wellness needs cannot be addressed by a “one-size-fits-all” marketing campaign. Such customer service provides the consumer with their own personal health & wellness consultant.

Where do you find such consultants? The best way is through the internet.

Look for companies that sell health & wellness products directly to consumers. These companies distribute their products through a network of independent consultants who are trained and educated not only in the products they distribute, but in providing excellent customer service. Such consultants will help you find the connection between the world of natural health & wellness products and customer service. Not only will you finally be an educated consumer, you will receive the customer service that you deserve.

Health & Wellness Program Ideas

Health and wellness programs and services are designed to encourage healthier lifestyle behaviors in your employees and reduce your health care spending. The focus is on preventing illness and injury, promoting health and productivity, and lowering the total cost of health care. A successful health & wellness program benefits employers by developing and maintaining a healthier, more productive workforce and community. It benefits employees by improving their health both physically and emotionally.

Health and wellness programs are intended to improve and promote health and fitness they are usually offered through the work place, although insurance plans can offer them directly to their enrollees. The program allows your employer or plan to offer you premium discounts, cash rewards, gym memberships, and many other types of incentives to participate. Some examples of wellness programs include programs to help you stop smoking, diabetes management programs, weight loss programs, and preventive health screenings. Some employers offer discounts on your health insurance premium if you meet certain requirements. Ex. Walking a certain amount of steps, working out a certain number of days, meeting weight guidelines, quit smoking.

Healthy employees cost companies less. Studies have shown that employees that participated in programs were less likely to leave and seek other employment. Employees are absent less, savings on health care costs, greater productivity, higher morale, and employee pride are just a few of the benefits of health promotion & wellness programs.

Johnson & Johnson started a program in 1995. Since that time employees who smoke has dropped by more than two-thirds. The number who have high blood pressure or who are sedentary declined by more than half. Well, it turns out that a comprehensive, strategically designed investment in employees’ social, mental, and physical health pays off. Johnson & Johnson estimates that their wellness programs have saved the company $250 million on health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was $2.71 for every dollar spent. I’m not that great at math but even I realize that’s a lot of money.

In the past wellness programs were viewed as a nice perk, not a necessity. Times have changed and evidence shows they are successful both to employees and in employers bank accounts. With tax incentives and grants available under current federal health care legislation, companies can use wellness programs to decrease their enormous health care costs and provide healthier more productive employees. It’s a win win.

Every company or organization should have an expert who develops and implements a clear, comprehensive wellness program. Programs are created to reduce health risks, improve quality of life, enhance personal effectiveness, and benefit the organization’s bottom line. You can’t just implement a program it has to become a companies way of life. Health & wellness programs are always a work in progress. I’ve read that Virgin Mobile has meetings with no chairs. Of course, you need to make the meetings brief and to the point. Encourage use of stairs if you have them.

Some ways of encouraging employees in health & wellness programs are:

Offer a discount on their insurance premium. Memberships (or discounts) to fitness clubs, provide healthy snacks, having walking meetings, have a team contest, start a stretch break or two every day, provide incentive gift cards. Put up fun posters with healthy tips throughout your workplace to keep healthy living to the forefront. Give out apple stress balls to promote healthy snacks. Offer discounts on activity trackers and set specific goals. Use exercise bands to promote exercise. Provide health journals to employees to keep track of progress on their goals. Celebrate with a Health & Wellness Day with fun games and play. Have a company 10K walk and provide FM radios. Compile a healthy company cookbook or provide each employee with one that is already printed. If you want a really fun, competitive prize have a team challenge (team that loses the most weight, inches or exercises the most) with a nice large prize for the winning team. Maybe the prize could be a trip or a night out on the town in a limo.