Mobile Customer Acquisition in the Swiss Health Care Industry: An Empirical Study

Mobile Customer Acquisition in the Swiss Health Care Industry: An Empirical Study

Niklas Nohlen, Stefan Smolnik, Gerold Riempp
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-074-5.ch012
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Applications based on mobile technologies are predicted to achieve increasing distribution as well as high potential for business processes especially with regard to customer interfaces. This chapter is going to analyze and present perspectives and approaches for initiation efforts by means of mobile technologies of Switzerland’s health care industry. On the one hand, acceptance and success factors of such mobile applications are analyzed by means of empirical studies involving customers and companies, on the other hand a prototype of mobile processes for initiation efforts is introduced, which was developed in the course of a case study.
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Challenges for Customer Acquisition in Switzerland’s Health Care Industry

Switzerland’s act on health care insurance (KVG) allows a compulsory basic insurance contract for each obligatorily insured person. Regardless of the chosen insurance company this contract offers the same services for all persons without previous medical examination. Thereby insurance companies have to accept every obligatorily insured person within their regional operating area. Switzerland’s health care insurance system comprises a cost sharing for the insured person that consists of a fixed annual fee (so-called Franchise) and a co-payment of 10% which compounds the costs exceeding the franchise. The insured person can reduce the annual fee through an optional higher franchise. In addition to the franchise rate, age, gender, and place of residence also have an influence on the premium level. Unlike in Germany, there is no income-dependent premium provided in Switzerland. Due to the newly published annual premiums approved by the Federal Council of Switzerland, the insured have the possibility to switch health insurance providers with a 30 days’ notice by December 31(KVG, 2006). In 2006, for example, about 170.000 people have changed their health care provider (, 2007). Hence, the insurance companies try to acquire via different sales channels and sales promotion activities as many customers as possible who are willing to switch.

One of Switzerland’s leading insurance companies – Helsana Versicherungen AG (Helsana, 2007) – can be used as a good example to illustrate the increasing significance of mobile sales channels. In 2003/04, the Helsana Versicherungen AG implemented a mobile offer for the first time. This mobile application, based on the Short Message Service (SMS) technology, enables the interested person to request via SMS the actual insurance fee for the coming year by sending an SMS. The fee is hereby calculated on the basis of age, gender, and the region where the interested person lives, in relation to a standard franchise, whereas no further influence capabilities can be considered concerning the interested person. After receiving the requested information, the prospective customer can, via SMS, ask for a call from the insurance company’s call center (Reichold & Schierholz, 2003). Meanwhile, many Swiss insurance companies offer this SMS process of premium calculation. The process as such does no longer offer a characteristic monopoly or innovation potential, and this has led to the loss of users. Nevertheless, further development of mobile technologies provides new possibilities for customer acquisition by means of mobile applications.

In their review of the literature, Ngai and Gnuasekaran provide an overview of mobile commerce (m-commerce). They identify five kinds of publications that cover aspects of m-commerce: M-commerce applications and cases, wireless user infrastructure, mobile middleware, m-commerce theory, and research (Ngai & Gunasekaran, 2007). Our chapter focuses on three of these five aspects: research, m-commerce application, and cases. We specifically wanted to know (1) whether these health care insurance consumers would use m-commerce, and (2) what the key determinants of success are with regard to the use of m-commerce. In section 2, we therefore review the relevant literature and mention some determinants for the successful use of m-commerce.

Key Terms in this Chapter

E-Commerce: “Electronic Commerce is the application of communication records, security infrastructures, digital money, electronic shopping malls, electronic data exchange, smart cards, mobile and/or intelligent agents, negotiation records and strategies, electronic notaries, certification authorities, inter-organizational workflow management, electronic contracts and many other technologies for initiation and implementation of business operations on the Internet.” (Merz, 2002, p. 20)

Customer Acquisition: “Customer acquisition includes the first purchase as well as other non-purchase encounters that both precede and follow the purchase, up until the time the customer makes a repeat purchase.” (Blattberg, Getz, & Thomas, 2001)

Individualization: “…Individualization as extreme orientation to individual requirements and desires of individual consumers. (…) Personalization characterizes (…) the individualization of communication with the customer by using new Internet technologies in terms of a One-to-One-Marketing.” (Piller & Schaller, 2002, p. 444)

Acceptance: “Acceptance (…) is contradictory to refusal and describes the positive acceptation of an innovation by the user.” (Simon, 2001, p. 87)

Customer Loyalty: “Customer loyalty is when a customer intentionally realizes or plans repurchases from a certain supplier within an appropriately defined period of time.” (Werani, 2004, p. 3)

Confidence: “Customer confidence is a judgmental action to the supplier or to his range of items and services, and results from the customer expectance of being favorably treated by the supplier in the future.” (Bliemel & Eggert, 1998, p. 40)

M-commerce: “Mobile Commerce refers to all data-driven business transactions and exchanges of value by users of mobile devices via wireless telecommunication networks.” (Schubert & Hampe, 2005, p. 3)

Personalization: “Personalization refers to the customer-specific development of Internet offers or Websites or particular elements (e.g. products, prices, layout) on the basis of information about customers.“ (Müller, 2005, p. 20)

Customer Recovery: “Customer Recovery is the re-activation of relationships to former customers who have terminated a former relationship with the provider.” (Bruhn & Georgi, 2005)

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