Media releases

September 16, 2002

Medibank Private retail strategy the latest step in turnaround plan

16 September 2002.

Medibank Private today unveiled its new retail strategy as the latest step in a business turnaround program it has progressively introduced since mid-year.

The company, Australia’s largest private health insurance fund, has introduced a series of initiatives, including significant cost reductions, over the past six months.

Chief Operating Officer, Simon Blair, today unveiled the latest step when he officially opened Medibank Private’s new store in Parramatta’s Westfield shopping centre.

Mr Blair said the new store concept offers customers enhanced service and access to Medibank Private’s products, services and health information.

“To deliver customer service and access, we needed to update our in-store design, which was very tired and costly to maintain. The design we’ve chosen is one that is modern, flexible, cost-effective and most importantly, meets our customers needs.

“Customers told us in research we conducted, that they wanted a more consultative and private environment where they could discuss their health issues.

“We believe this new retail concept will allow us to better engage our customers and offer them an experience beyond merely transacting a claim.”
Mr Blair said Medibank Private hopes to roll out 30 similar store upgrades this financial year. A number of shop locations are also likely to be moved to ensure stores are at locations where members say they want them.

“We’ve moved our Parramatta store to Westfield because it provides better access to our customers and business growth opportunities.”

The new Parramatta retail centre includes the following improved service features:
A layout that allows for more private interaction between the customer and Medibank Private staff;
An innovative queuing system that allows customers to use other in-store services while waiting for their number to be called;
A computer that provides access to the Medibank Internet site plus a hot phone that links directly to Medibank’s call centre; and
A new “Infopoint” health terminal, which gives customers access to information about a range of health topics and services using touch screen technology.

Mr Blair said the “Infopoint” health terminal, which is being trialed in Parramatta, complements Medibank Private’s current on-line health information services, which are provided as part of its alliance partnerships with the National Heart Foundation, National Asthma Council and the Cochrane Consumer Collaboration.

“There is a strong global trend for consumers to increasingly seek to take control of their own wellness by accessing evidence-based, electronically distributed health information of this type.

“We provide health insurance for almost three million Australians and while this will remain the core of our business, it is becoming increasingly important to emphasise the value of prevention.
“Parramatta is our pilot store and we will research staff and customer reaction to ensure it delivers the right environment.”

Medibank Private has managed to increase its investment in the improvement of customer service through upgrading its retail branch network and call centre technology, whilst simultaneously reducing its management expense costs and corporate overheads.

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