At large, multibillion-dollar corporate entities, encouraging employees to adopt new behaviors can be a daunting challenge. This was the case in 2002 to 2004 for the leaders of CIGNA’s service operations organization.
At the heart of CIGNA’s challenge was how to foster the new behaviors needed to achieve new and better results — not only for the 6,000-employee service operations division but for the company’s plan customers, members and health care providers.
Since mid-2002, CIGNA’s service operations division has been revamping its customer service practices. Company executives knew customer service experience accounts for 50 percent of the reason customers stay with CIGNA, therefore, the service interactions must reinforce that customers get great service. The service operations division, however, faced some challenges in putting this concept into practice.
Over the next six months, CIGNA engaged in an intensive and rapid implementation of significant process redesign and technology modification intended to improve its overall customer service experience. Soon, the company began to see a noticeable improvement.
The challenge then became ensuring the changes and processes that had been rolled out to the field were going to stick. The answer was simple: Modify behavior.
Ultimately, CIGNA realized it had to understand what behaviors really make the difference, learn to make them happen for hundreds of managers and thousands of associates and then make those behaviors stick. CIGNA teamed up with Continuous Learning Group to identify critical path behaviors and then to develop managers’ and leaders’ skills to foster and sustain discretionary performance regarding the things that matter most to the business.
CIGNA provided learning and coaching to all service operations managers, who were then formally recognized for achieving designated levels of fluency and results.
Initially, CIGNA wanted to implement key strategies to achieve significant business results with faster, consistent and sustainable deployment. The company’s learning executives quickly realized, however, that there was also tremendous value in the cultural and employee engagement improvements, as well as in the power of having all managers fluent in a common skill set.
CIGNA recognized building habit strength requires more than learning alone — learning gets it started, but structured coaching and reinforcement are even more essential to sustainability. To effectively remove obstacles and reinforce progress, CIGNA needed to involve managers and leaders at all levels.
CIGNA’s commitment to superior customer service went from a strategy on paper to one in action. In the past two years, CIGNA earned a No. 1 ranking among 10 competitors in claim service, and it was ranked No. 2 in call service.
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