By its own admission, global health insurance company Cigna has become much ‘agile’ in recent years thanks to some revolutionary techniques.
To put what’s happened into an everyday situation, think about this: Have you ever had a friend who offered you ample advice on your relationships, driving habits, even buying a new TV—all without really listening to you or your concerns. The relationship seemed more about them than you.
Well, a few years ago Cigna was beginning to feel like that officious friend. Their employees certainly cared about the customers within their insurance programs—and they offered those customers plentiful advice on improving their health habits—but Cigna leaders weren’t sure people were listening.
As background, 10 percent of the insurance company’s 30,000-person workforce are clinicians—nurses, behavioral health specialists, substance abuse experts, etc. And that 10 percent works to influence the well being of the employees in the companies they serve. It’s a wonderful idea. For instance, if you are in a company that has Cigna as an insurance company and go to the doctor with an uncontrolled health issue such as high cholesterol or diabetes, you’d probably get a call from someone at Cigna with advice on how to help.
Cigna leaders began asking two important questions: “Is this what our clients want from us?” and, “If they do want it, do customers trust us enough to accept the advice we give them?”
In this process of discovery, Cigna developed some creative ways to listen that we outline in All In. One of my favorites is this: The insurance company now requires its senior-most executives to listen to one hour a week of customer calls and then write a report on what they have heard. Think about your business. How agile would your leaders become if every single week of the year they listened to real customers talk about their issues and concerns?
That listening has led Cigna to be much easier to do business with and to become much more understandable—for instance, it led the company to be the first to offer 24/7 customer phone support to their customers and to rewrite all of its Explanation of Benefits documents into plain English.
Those ideas have increased customer trust levels so that people are now much more accepting of the advice they are given about their health. And it helped lead to a 15 percent increase in Cigna’s 2011 revenues to $21.3 billion. Not too shabby.
Isn’t it amazing what can be accomplished when you really listen to your customers.