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How NPS Sets the Stage for Internal – and External - Customer Loyalty


Hours of operation: 24/7/365
Number of Agents: (approx.) 1,800
Services your Center Provides: Comprehensive support for Dental, Medical and Pharmacy customers
Channels Handled: Phone, Email, Self-Service Web, Social Media
Number of Contacts Handled Per Day/Week/Month/Year: (approx.) 3 million per month
Mission Statement: To help the people we serve improve their health, well-being, and sense of security.

In the last year, Cigna Healthcare has made some significant changes to the way it approaches customer loyalty. Cigna is currently the only insurer in the healthcare space that offers customer service 24 hours per day, every day, year-round. As a leading health services company, Cigna has always put their customers first. In the last few years, Cigna has raised its own bar for excellence in providing an exceptional customer experience.

At the heart of these improvements is Cigna’s transactional Net Promoter Scores (NPS). Eric Galvin, VP of Call Operations at Cigna, shared with ICMI why these scores are vital to Cigna’s overall improvement process.

Why NPS is Important to Cigna

Cigna measures the transactional Net Promoter Score by asking the NPS question in the customer satisfaction survey. Obtaining this measurement from a post-call perspective provides Cigna insight into how willing their customers are to recommend Cigna based on the service they received. Being a health services company, providing excellent customer service is paramount. Collecting the transactional NPS, along with measuring Customer Effort, provides Cigna with valuable insight. When combined with the Voice of the Customer feedback they are able to focus on what is truly important to the customer. In measuring the customer’s willingness to recommend the Cigna brand immediately following an interaction, Cigna has recognized an improvement in NPS scores by 25% over a 12-month period.

By 2014, the U.S. will see major changes to the way healthcare is approached and purchased. This reform is driving the need for organizations like Cigna to be more customer-centric. As per the terms of the reform, individuals who are covered by their employer’s healthcare plan will have the ability to opt-out and select their own health insurance carrier. Consequently, employers will also have the ability to opt-out of providing health benefits to their employees, which will place the responsibility of selecting healthcare back onto the individual.

Cigna’s long-standing mission has been to help their customers maintain good health, or obtain the appropriate health care they need. As Galvin and his team consider the changing environment of healthcare, they found that the customer’s needs are evolving as well. In essence, providing a customer-centric environment is more important for Cigna than ever before!

The Role of NPS

As Cigna moves more toward a customer-centric model, NPS scores become a key measurement of customer loyalty. Companies with notably high NPS scores (e.g. Apple, Amazon) are also widely known for making the customer experience part of their brand. Satisfied customers will also want to share their satisfaction with others – which will grow brand popularity and loyalty.

Just over a year ago, Cigna re-introduced its brand to the public. This reintroduction goes far deeper than a logo facelift. Galvin states that Cigna wants to make sure that its mission and values are clearly stated to its customers. Cigna strives to differentiate itself in the healthcare marketplace; to break free from any preconceptions (or misconceptions) the public has of healthcare and health insurers as a result of the media or politics. Cigna also strives to become more of a trusted advisor AND to breakthrough to let people truly see what they do as a company.

Making Improvements

To stay one step ahead of the healthcare environment, Cigna has turned back to basics. Galvin asserts that the basic day-to-day processes are the most important, and yet many organizations tend to overlook them.

To start, Cigna took a laser focus to their incoming CSAT data. Though Cigna was not ignoring this data previously, Galvin stated they were also not fully tapping into the wealth of customer information that their customers were providing. As a result, Cigna’s team began focusing on the data results to understand where they were excelling, and where there were opportunities for improvement. Most important, the team began scrutinizing the reasons why their customers were calling them in the first place. Often, individuals reach out because they are either confused or uninformed about the specifics of their coverage and policy. Cigna’s goal here is to minimize the complexity and improve their customer’s experience.

A Customer-Centric Culture

Cigna’s culture is one that is centered around Customer Centricity – yet, has the constant and healthy tension with the need to be efficient. That is the balance they seek to strike every day. In order to do this, they have redesigned their quality and incentive programs to ensure the right alignment to their customer centric goals. They’ve seen the volume of calls per customer continue to fall even though the remaining contacts that they have tend to be more complex and take longer. In general, that is a good sign to Cigna.

My Personal Champion

Cigna recently was awarded the 2012 Recognition for Excellence Award from DALBAR for the My Personal Champion program. The My Personal Champion program provides a single point of contact who works with internal and external experts as a liaison to the customer, providing dedicated support during times of critical need such as a serious medical situation that may result in significant administrative, social or financial issues. This is another way Cigna’s demonstrates it culture of customer-centricity – by providing the customer what they need most at critical times.

The Year Ahead

For 2013, Galvin’s team plans to continue its initiative in eradicating customer confusion - and frustration – when they interact with healthcare.

The team will also take steps toward helping customers better understand the economics of their health care.

And, through Cigna’s millions of interactions, the team wants to ensure they are offering the best support for their customers as they help the people they serve improve their health, well-being, and sense of security.

Christina Hammarberg is the former associate editor at ICMI.