Speaking to Customers in Their Language

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
Ingrid Lindberg, Customer Experience Officer, Cigna, led the translation of Cigna's jargon-filled interactions into customer-friendly communications, increasing customer engagement and satisfaction as a result.

When Ingrid Lindberg was recruited by Cigna to become its customer experience officer in 2008, she immediately sprang into action. She and her newly formed team met for three days to map out the optimal customer experience, addressing customer pain points that were derived from an analysis of voice of the customer (VOC) data.

The top pain point Lindberg and her team identified was customers' understanding-or lack thereof-of insurance-industry jargon.

Lindberg swiftly initiated Words We Use, a company-wide campaign to align Cigna's use of language with its customers' needs and preferences.

For example, Lindberg and her team discovered that the word "provider" was particularly confusing to customers. The industry uses the term to reference the entire delivery system (e.g., primary care doctors, specialists), "but customers thought of the insurance company as their provider. So we changed our language and began to refer to a doctor as a doctor," Lindberg says.

The clearer communication led to a more than 100 percent improvement in how customers understood their benefits. It also enabled

Cigna to reduce the volume of printed materials it sends to its customers by more than 50 percent. Additionally, because Cigna's customers understand the company's communications better, customers have increased their engagement in the company's chronic-condition support program by 8.3 points.

Another action item that resulted from Cigna customer feedback was a need for the company to provide 24/7/365 customer support, which is still fairly rare among U.S. health insurers. "How on earth could you not be available to your customers when you're talking about people getting sick and needing someone to call?" Lindberg asks.

Lindberg has taken additional steps to help drive customer centricity at Cigna. For example, she spearheaded the creation of Cigna's Experience Room. Launched in 2008 as an actual room and later converted into a 30-minute film for Cigna's 30,000 global employees to view, the Experience Room simulates what it's like for customers to do business with the company, from trying to find information on the company's website to locating the right phone number to use for support. "We made it relevant for [employees]," Lindberg says.

As a result, Cigna consolidated more than 1,000 toll-free numbers to fewer than 200. "It's a great way for us to show employees that we need to make it easier for customers," she adds.

Expanding its VOC efforts has been essential to Cigna's ongoing customer experience improvements. Originally, Lindberg and her team collected VOC information through traditional survey mechanisms. By 2009 the company started to monitor Facebook, blogs, and other social media channels for customer sentiment and to act on customer issues being discussed. In 2010 Cigna began integrating its Web and post-call feedback and accreditation surveys into its customer analysis, as well. Cigna also captures customer sentiment through focus groups and face-to-face meetings with customers.

"I'm a firm believer in voice of the customer, that what a customer wants is something they tell us in feedback and in how they act," says Lindberg, adding that some of the best customer feedback is captured by customer reps and nurses. "A story tells me so much more than a tweet or a survey response ever will."