Earlier this month Cigna celebrated Customer Service Week, an international celebration that shows our customer service employees how much they're appreciated. Our theme for this year – "The Power of Purpose" – celebrated the power our customer services professionals have to channel their personal purpose while delivering on Cigna’s collective promise.
Being champions for our customers is at the heart of everything we do at Cigna, and it’s the true purpose of the “My Personal Champion” program. Champions are dedicated to providing specialized support to Cigna customers experiencing complex needs relating to their health care. This single point of contact allows our customer service professionals to anticipate a customer’s needs, and eliminates unnecessary games of telephone.
“We know the ins and outs of cases,” said Melissa Griffitt, a Champion for almost six years, said.
Customers for the My Personal Champion program are referred by internal service partners or identified through claims and utilization data models. All referrals are then reviewed by the Intake Team. Those accepted into the program receive a customized service plan tailored to their needs.
Champions are just one way that Cigna's customer service team helps people day in and day out, assuming whatever role is needed to ensure their customers receive a high level of care. Below we look at some of ways that our service pros are meeting customer needs.
A Tenacity for Negotiating Claims
When one Cigna customer lost his wife to cancer, Griffitt acted as the middle-man with the hospital, negotiating away tens of thousands of dollars from related claims. And if she ever receives a “no” on clearing a bill? She calls back the next day, and the next, and the next.
Her tenacity has led to coworkers referring to her as the “bulldog.”
“That person on that call is my family,” she said. “I’m going to do anything and everything in my power to make it a better situation with less headaches for them, no homework for them, and I do 150% of all of it.”
Griffitt plans to get a bulldog tattoo, one with white boxing gloves.
“Sometimes we have to be that fighter for our customer on the other side,” she said. “Anybody on this Champion side is truly going to fight for their people.”
Griffitt knows the purpose of a good Champion is to walk with a customer from the beginning to the end of their case, whether triggered by a heart attack, traumatic car accident, requiring education on using insurance, and more.
“We’re here to help [customers] in that dark place,” she said. “We’re there for the long haul.”
Her purpose with the Champions also carries over into her personal life.
“I’m a cooker,” she said. “I do stuff for other people. I will cook pies and give them out to the neighbors.
“I just want to help. Wherever I can, I help.”
Helping a Customer Find the Perfect Wig
One customer who joined Cigna’s My Personal Champion program after being diagnosed with nasopharynx cancer was paired with Gladys Turner, a customer service advocate, who stayed with her throughout her treatment and made sure she got the most out of her coverage.
During radiation treatment, the customer developed sores in her mouth. She was prescribed a medication and paid for it out of pocket to find relief as soon as possible. She then turned to Turner to help her get reimbursed. “We connected with Cigna Pharmacy who advised [her] how to fill out the pharmacy claim form,” Turner said. “She submitted the claim and received her money back.”
When the customer’s hair began to fall out, Turner was there for her too, and made sure she knew she had coverage for a wig. After Turner helped her find the perfect one, the customer said even her family didn’t know she was wearing it.
After 33 radiation treatments and four rounds of chemotherapy, the woman is considered cancer free. She completed a 5K with her son, and went on her first vacation since getting sick.
“Gladys became a friend in this process. She was empathetic and truly a joy to work with. She was a bright spot in the darkest days of my life,” the Cigna customer said.
Finding purpose by connecting with customers
The first thing Sylvia Lopez, a One Guide representative, noticed about a customer she was on the phone with was the sense of urgency in his voice. He needed an MRI authorization for his son, who was losing his eye as Lopez processed the call. She immediately took action.
“I knew this call had to be taken with such care and concern as if this was my own child,” she said.
The authorization request was not yet on file, so Lopez reached out to the clinic and explained the urgency of the situation.
“They were able to push the request through and quickly provide us with an approval code for the MRI,” she said.
Relaying the news to the customer brought a moment of joy and relief during the emergency circumstance. “She was wonderful, heroic and caring,” the customer said of Lopez. “She needs to know how much she did for us.”
Lopez credits staying grounded during intense moments to an affirmation she learned during a women’s event last year.
“That word [to hang on to] was ‘grit,’” she said. “The dictionary gives a definition of courage and resolve; strength of character. This has been an affirmation I like to remember when you must stay grounded for someone who is totally dependent on your next best action to resolve such a traumatic medical issue.”
Lopez’s purpose as an advocate comes by placing herself in the customer’s situation, and knowing she’s making a difference, one call at a time.
“Whether it be someone losing an eye or a simple doctor’s visit, compassion can go a long way in literally changing their life forever,” she said. “To know that I had something to do with that brings joy, peace and purpose.”