Fall 2021 CRS & Five Key Takeaways from Five Keynotes — Part 5: UnitedHealth Group

Execs In The Know recently held its Fall 2021 Customer Response Summit (CRS) event (October 18–22, 2021) featuring nearly two dozen online, virtual sessions including engaging panels, a featured case study, highly informative Shop Talks, and five powerful keynote presentations from these top brands: Williams-Sonoma, Inc., Malwarebytes, DISH Network, Angi, and UnitedHealth Group.

If you have yet to tune in to the Fall 2021 CRS virtual event, you can watch many sessions on-demand.
Registration is simple, free, and it takes only a minute to get immediate online access to this insightful content.

To help highlight some of the amazing ideas that came out of these sessions, we’ve created a five-part blog series — each focusing on a particular keynote session. In Part 5, we highlight Michael Baker’s turnaround story at UnitedHealth Group, one that puts people and compassion at the center of change..


The Business Case for Compassion

Michael Baker
COO UnitedHeathcare Provider Operations
UnitedHealth Group

Click to sign in or register to watch Michael’s Fall 2021 CRS presentation.

To say UnitedHealth Group has undergone a turnaround is perhaps a bit of an understatement. The company underwent a “worst to first” evolution by every meaningful measure. During this session, Michael shares how UnitedHealth Group made a conscious effort to put people and compassion at the center of an ambitious remake of the company’s customer service operations. The result has been a dynamic shift in not only the customer experience, but also a rising opinion of the brand among both industry watchers and customers alike. Here are some of the most notable learnings from Michael’s journey:

1. Compassion and Tenacity Can Move Mountains

When looking to place an individual as an advocate for your customer, consider compassion and tenacity as top factors. While it’s important to have well-rounded call center skills, the fact of the matter is individuals who are both compassionate and tenacious can connect with customers in unique ways, creating customer experiences that have the power to literally shift brand perception.

2. Rethink Measurements and Goals

With compassion as a core purpose, it becomes counterproductive to focus on some traditional measures of productivity, like average handle time (AHT). Such measures shouldn’t be a distraction when the focus is on compassion. Instead, attention should be given to the overall experience, including an agent’s ability to truly listen and guide customers to a workable solution regardless of what it takes, or how long it takes. Compassion can’t be rushed.

3. Moments of Compassion Build Trust

When agents take the time to listen and express compassion for a customer and their issue much, in the same way, they might treat family, something special happens. Customers realize they’ve got an advocate, a true advocate. And this builds trust in a very special way. Trust matters, especially when it comes to something as important as health, and that trust is a bridge to many things.

4. Keep It Authentic

Brands that can keep it authentic often have an edge. UnitedHealthcare Group keeps it authentic with the use of handwritten cards from agents to customers. It’s small but heartfelt, and it can mean a lot to the person on the receiving end.

5. No CX Journey Ever Has an End

No matter how far a company has come on evolving its customer care operations, there’s always more to be done. People can get better, technology can evolve, and the next great process change is just a spark of inspiration away. As you explore where priorities should go next, always keep the customer at the center of every initiative, and always ask, “Will this improve the experience?”


The power of the human-to-human connection can not be overestimated. If you’re wondering how your company can make a stronger emotional connection with customers, you should know that the Fall 2021 CRS event featured a panel discussion around creating empathy, another powerful avenue for building trust.

Be sure to check it out:
Creating Empathy and Eliminating Frustration on the Path from Automation to Live Engagement


Blog post, written by: Execs In The Know