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The "Secrets" to Great Social Customer Service at CIGNA Healthcare

The reality of social customer service and support is that social customer service and support is the reality.

I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you that social media channel – and the social customer service that your customers have grown to expect – is here to stay. And yet, it’s 2013 and many companies are still rather apprehensive about how to get involved (or have yet to get involved at all).

The good news is there are quite a few companies that are already doing social customer service – and are doing it well. Cigna Healthcare is one of them; proudly providing their clients with customer service support across multiple social media channels since 2010.

ICMI chatted with Emily Holohan, Social Media/Internet Customer Service Manager and Ann Miller, Customer Service Analyst to get an inside "peek" at how Cigna Healthcare team set its social customer service up for success.

ICMI: When did Cigna decide to "go social"?

Emily: Twitter went live in August 2010. In September 2011, we launched two different Facebook pages (Cigna Enterprise and Cigna GO YOU). In 2012, we expanded to other social sites like Pinterest and Tumblr. We continue to explore the many ways social media helps our customers voice their experiences. Realizing this isn’t just a fad, we are dedicated to meeting our customers where they are comfortable.

ICMI: How did Cigna prepare to take on these social channels?

Emily: We had a lot of preparation! Several of the components included writing courses, site navigation, response guidelines, one-on-one sessions, tracking tools, staffing for 24/7 coverage and creating an internal contact matrix. The process has evolved more over the last year and we continue to evaluate our processes for improvement.

ICMI: Can you share your response time goals?

Emily: Our goal is to respond to any customer service related post or tweet within 30 minutes.

ICMI: How do you handle high traffic days?

Emily: We are 24/7 and always have someone monitoring our social media pages. We review/arrange schedules to ensure sufficient coverage and have trained back-ups in case they are needed. We also have internal checks and balances in place with our non-customer facing partners who use social media tools for other purposes. There is very little chance that a customer will not receive a response to a question or need.

ICMI: Can you offer a few tips for other mangers and agents to keep in mind as they handle social channels?

Emily: Social media is where many of our customers are and it is important we open up this channel as another way for our customers to contact us. Regardless of the customer’s channel choice, we recognize that our customers are looking for accurate resolution in an acceptable time frame, and we do all we can to go that extra mile.

ICMI: Ann, can you recap a few of your real-life customer successes and challenges in terms of social?

Ann: We currently use Facebook and Twitter as an additional outlet to assist our customers. The types of issues range from positive feedback, customer concerns and general plan questions. The complexity of the issue can range from quite simple to extremely complex. We work through every challenge that comes our way to let our customers know we are listening and are here for them.

ICMI: What is the best thing your mangers and supervisors can do for a Social Support agent?

Ann: First and foremost, is the full support and confidence from my manager. Knowing that your manager trusts you and is there to back you up are probably the best things a supervisor can do for an agent. My supervisor has done a wonderful job at this!

ICMI: What are some exciting ways that Cigna agents provide peer assistance for the social channels?

Ann: When faced with complex customer issues, I like to have a peer proof read my response. Two sets of eyes are better than one! My peers also act as a sounding board. If I am having trouble with where to go or constructing a response, I am able to talk it out with my peers. This helps me stay fresh and to think outside the box.

ICMI: Can you offer some insight into the most effective ways that companies can keep their social support "frontline" happy and fulfilled?

Ann: There are 3 things that motivate me: being informed, flexibility with work and life, and knowing that my manager has full confidence in me.

ICMI: Ok, last but not least! What makes you love your job?

Ann: I love my job because I love to help others. The greatest feeling is assisting a customer through a difficult time. We all share in those "Big Wins"!

How are you currently handling your social channels? We'd love to hear about your challenges - and successes!

For more "secrets" to successful social, join me and ICMI’s Content Director, Sarah Stealey Reed on Thursday, Feb. 28 for a complimentary webinar. This informative, interactive and fun live event will present proven industry best practices for social, and allow you to participate by submitting your own "secrets" in real time!

Christina Hammarberg is the former associate editor at ICMI.