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J.D. Power & Associates on Monday named Independent Health Association one of the 50 top-performing brands in the country for customer service.

The Amherst-based insurer was ranked with Apple, Jet Blue, Lexus and other internationally known companies on J.D. Power’s list of 2014 “Customer Champions,” which were selected from among 600 contenders in nine industries.

J.D. Power based its choices on an analysis of feedback collected in surveys of thousands of consumers in 2013. Independent Health was one of five health insurers, and the only local company, on the final list.

“We believe that being recognized as a J.D. Power 2014 Customer Champion reinforces our ongoing commitment of providing our members with outstanding service and the tools and resources they need to be more involved and well informed when it comes to their health,” Dr. Michael W. Cropp, Independent Health’s president and CEO, said in a statement Monday.

The 2014 customer-service rankings are the first released by J.D. Power in two years. The 2012 list of top brands did not include Independent Health nor any of the other major insurers in Buffalo Niagara.

The current rankings include major brands – Amazon.com, Cadillac and Quicken Loans – as well as institutions that wouldn’t be recognized outside their home markets, such as Bangor Savings Bank and the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative.

The brands were compared across industries after J.D. Power, known for its automotive rankings, reviewed customer opinions and perceptions collected from studies in the United States last year.

“The 50 companies we’ve recognized as Customer Champions demonstrate the highest levels of service excellence, not just compared with their direct competitors, but also across all facets of the customer experience,” Finbarr O’Neill, president of J.D. Power, said in a statement.

J.D. Power said customer-service performance is particularly important for companies in the age of social media, through which consumers can efficiently share news of good – and bad – experiences with hundreds or thousands of online connections.

Independent Health said it’s important to develop a brand reputation for good customer service because consumers have a greater say in selecting their health insurance through the exchanges established as part of federal health care reform.

“One of the things we’ve seen as a result of the new health insurance marketplace is that, when it comes time to purchase health care coverage, it’s the quality of coverage and the type of service a plan can offer that are driving consumers’ decisions more than the price of the plan itself,” Cropp said.

email: swatson@buffnews.com