Can Cigna Deliver On Promise To Get Personal?

Cigna recently started an advertising push around its new brand promise:

Cigna supports and nurtures the unique strengths of each customer to help them achieve their full potential.

I caught up with Ingrid Lindberg, Cigna’s customer experience officer, to find out if this was just a “marketing pitch” or if the company is really prepared to deliver on this promise. Here’s some of what she told me:

  • This campaign is part of  a journey that started in 2008 when the company started a major push to improve its customer experience. According to Lindberg “We started to walk before we started to talk.”
  • The campaign is part of Cigna’s goal to make experiences more personal for customers. Lindberg talks about her customer experience mantra: Make it easy, make it helpful, make it personal. Here’s how she describes the connection: “You have to be easy and helpful every time, earn the trust and relationship with customers in order to earn the right to help people live a better life. Without relationship and trust, you don’t have the right to interact at that level.”
  • Lindberg discussed the level of engagement of employees, saying “If you don’t have your employees engaged, then you don’t have the right to do anything.”
  • The company has pushed to eliminate jargon from all of its communications — internally and externally — in a program called “The Words We Use.” She shared data from a recent survey: 86% of employees were aware of that program and 75% were using the “correct words” almost all the time. The company has a great site describing its simplification efforts.
  • Lindberg feels that Cigna really delivers on the promise when customers get on the phone with someone from Cigna’s clinical team. She told me: “Satisfaction and health of the customer goes way up when they connect with a nurse.”

My take: Health plans like Cigna have a long way to go before many consumers will trust them enough to establish a strong relationship; no matter what promises the companies make. As I’ve said in the past, companies don’t own their brands. True brands are an asset that are jointly owned by organizations and their customers… and it’s a fragile relationship. Great brands are made in three steps:

  1. Making promises. Companies need to be explicit about the purpose of their organization which translates into promises that they make to customers.
  2. Embracing promises. It’s nearly impossible to keep a promise that you don’t know about, so everyone in an organization needs to understand the customer promises.
  3. Keeping promises. Companies need to make sure that they live up to their promises during every interaction in every channel.

If Cigna can’t deliver on some of the basic needs of customers, then this campaign will turn out to be nothing more than an “empty promise.” Lindberg has a great view on this, saying that they try and build trust one person at a time. In this industry, that’s probably the best mindset.

The bottom line: It’s very hard to build a relationship without trust

About Bruce Temkin
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, marketing, interaction design, customer service, and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

3 Responses to Can Cigna Deliver On Promise To Get Personal?

  1. Jeff Hines says:

    Ironically, they’re trying to communicate clearly, but a giant misspelling occurs on their website: “guideleines”. Quite surprising for a company this big, on a page that’s talking about communications.

  2. Judy says:

    Jeff, I’m Judy from Cigna and I’d love to correct that misspelling. I looked, but can’t find it. Can you tell me which page it is on? Many thanks!

  3. I am a member of Cigna Insurance. I have been very satisfied with their service. Their well aware program keeps one on one touch with customers by nurses who offer advice or answer health question. I have never had a problem with coverage. I have been retired for the last 6 months and they have become my secondary I’m sorry to say, but they are still there for me and available to offer any help or answer any questions I have. As for me, the program works very well.

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