Q & A With Experience Leader Ingrid Lindberg

Ingrid Lindberg is CIGNA’s Customer Experience Officer, where she spearheads the organisation’s cultural and customer experience evolution

Perhaps revolution is more accurate. For years, health care insurance providers like CIGNA have considered their customers to be employers who purchase insurance for employees. It’s only been in the past few years that these organisations have started to realise that the individual consumers they insure are customers too.

The shift comes because individuals strongly influence the leaders they work for (who often want to affordably be ’employers of choice’), and more consumers are buying individual plans themselves. In the US certainly, companies like CIGNA are waking up to a powerful but inexperienced group of decision makers.

I was lucky enough to snag a few minutes of Ingrid’s time and asked her a few questions about her work at CIGNA and what it is that drew her the customer experience field. I’m sure you’ll find her answers as insightful and illuminating as I did.

What is it about customer experience that energizes you?
To answer that, I have to tell you a story. My parents divorced when I was fourteen. I went from being in a comfortable middle class family to one where my mum was raising a family on $12,000 a year. That Christmas my grandparents gave me a $1000 gift certificate to Carson Pirie Scott in Highland Village (Minnesota natives will remember this no-longer-there store in St. Paul). I wanted red Chanel lipstick – I was set on it.

There I was, 14, in my church coat, trying to buy Chanel lipstick, and no one would wait on me. I waited. No one. When someone finally approached me I simply asked to have my $1000 gift certificate cashed. The man helping me got it. He even went to four or five cash registers to get enough cash. That experience gave me a passion for the underdog. It’s all about easy access to getting a need solved.

I gave that money to my mum when I got home.

What are you working on right now?
We’re beginning year three of our cultural revolution at CIGNA. When I came in we were very much a B2B business, there was no consumer focus. Now we’re working on more simplifications – things that help make health care simpler for our customers.

To that end we’re focusing on six personas – asking ‘What does health care look like for each of these kinds of people?’

We have to be helpful, understandable, and easy-to-use so people are more likely and willing to participate with us and to become healthier. I keep jumping up and down and asking, why does health care have to be so complex?

Many consumers still think health care is simply a benefit. They can’t even fathom some of the shifts coming down the road. We are working on helping them be ready.

What are the typical challenges you face when it comes to customer experience?
To be successful at CIGNA, I had to learn how to help our employees understand what we were doing before wasn’t wrong, that we just needed to do things a different way.

The process stuff (which initiative or decision would move us closer to our target experience) is the easy part. The hard part is helping thousands of employees understand and feel passion about the customer.

Now there’s not a person in our organisation that can’t draw a line between their job and those two things I mentioned earlier [making health care understandable and easy to obtain].

Tune in next week when Ingrid tells us about how she quantifies the work she does; how customer experience is viewed within the C-suite at CIGNA; and what will shape business leaders’ decisions regarding customer experience in 2011.

In the mean time, I’m curious, what is about customer experience that energizes you?

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