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:
- Making promises. Companies need to be explicit about the purpose of their organization which translates into promises that they make to customers.
- 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.
- 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