January 14, 2013

From Crains Cleveland
By Timothy Magaw

Medical Mutual of Ohio CEO Rick Chiricosta's charge to his army of 2,600 employees to do more business with the health insurer's customers appears to be gaining momentum. Last year, Medical Mutual employees logged nearly $10 million in purchases from the insurer's clients as part of the company's “Mutual Appreciation” initiative, which Mr. Chiricosta dreamed up in 2011. Consider it an “I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine” sort of thing.

To stir up more activity from his employees, Mr. Chiricosta randomly awarded $2,500 gift cards to clients' businesses to five employees who had logged their purchases. “After that, all of a sudden the participation rate went through the roof,” Mr. Chiricosta said.

About 60% of Medical Mutual's employees have bought goods or services from the insurer's client list and logged their purchases, but Mr. Chiricosta said he thinks the company could do better.

“No other insurer has the critical mass of employees like we do,” he said. “With this momentum, I think it'll keep going and keep skyrocketing. I'm pumped about it.”

Mr. Chiricosta said he has received positive feedback from the top brass at some of the companies Medical Mutual serves and believes the program is a particularly useful tool for cultivating business.

“I really believe it can be the difference maker in getting business and keeping business,” he said.