A client recently asked me about an apparent discrepancy in two of my Forrester reports. The first was a report I co-authored with Megan Burns detailing the changes in Customer Experience Index (CxPi) scores among health insurers. This report showed, among other things, that Humana’s CxPi score dropped by 10 points from 2010 to 2011. My more recent report, "Best And Worst Of Website User Experience, 2011: Health Insurers," shows that Humana improved its online public site experience significantly from 2010 to 2011. How could this be?

There are two main reasons why these two data points are not in conflict with each other. The first is that the site we reviewed was Humana’s public site. People who visit this site do not necessarily join a Humana plan and only comprise a fraction of the total Humana customers captured in the CxPi. Humana’s membership comes from a variety of sources, including employers and the military. None of those members would use the public quoting capability, which makes up most of the experience we tested. So members who do join Humana via the public site experience would ultimately be dwarfed statistically by those who didn’t.

The second — and more important — reason is that the website is not the whole of the customer experience. Even if we assume that Humana’s secure site is as user-friendly as its public site, members will base their assessments of their experience with Humana across a range of interactions and a range of factors. Humana, like all companies, has to excel across its entire customer experience to earn its customers’ praise, loyalty, and, ultimately, dollars.