Rewriting a Performance Management Formula
Electric Insurance is operating more efficiently after revamping its labor intensive processes.
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Electric Insurance, a national writer of personal insurance, has served the needs of General Electric employees for about 40 years. Part of its ability to do so (which has grown to include the general public) hinges on the service delivery of its 150 agents in its customer service, sales, and claims reporting departments. To monitor these agents' performances the company had relied on its paper-based dashboards, but when it sought deeper analysis its manual, labor-intensive processes needed a jolt. To handle its call center processes Electric Insurance deployed CentreVu Supervisor to manage its call volume, IEX's TotalView to manage its schedules, and NICE Universe for quality monitoring. With just one person dedicated to compiling data and providing dashboards to the various levels of the organization, though, information was often delivered too late to be valuable. "They were getting their performance dashboards sometimes a month late from the prior month's work," says Jack Schumaker, vice president of call center operations at Electric Insurance. "It wasn't flexible...[and] you couldn't dig deeper into it. What you saw was what you got." And just as with any manual procedure, you introduce room for error. Schumaker can't recall any cataclysmic circumstances, but "if it's a manual process and you're looking to one person to go through and manipulate formulas and data for [many] people, there's a greater chance of injecting that data-entry mistake," he says. The insurer wanted a solution that would allow the company to capture and store vast amounts of information and then quickly present it to its agents. Electric Insurance implemented Merced Systems' Merced Performance Suite in 2002, which integrates data from its contact center solutions to a mainframe sales system. The solution generates personalized, role-based dashboards, providing agents with an updated view of their performance statistics. To boot, executives can see several dashboards complete with summary information on all operational facets including cost, productivity, and quality, along with the capability to drill down for root cause analysis. In fact, Electric Insurance eliminated the analyst position completely and cut down significantly on the time spent validating data. Additionally, the solution's workflow functionality, including its alerts and forms mechanisms, can notify agents when their performance deviates from the accepted parameter, and if it persists, a supervisor is alerted. "It's a quick way to identify when things are not where they need to be," Schumaker says, and it "allows us to identify these performance [issues] in a more timely fashion so that we can provide the coaching that they need." The company also automated its new agent hiring process by capturing demographic information like educational background and work experience to create success profiles of candidates. For example, all the company's reps must be licensed insurance agents, but because it can forecast an agent's success, up to 100 percent of new hires pass their insurance certification the first time, compared with only about 50 percent prior to the implementation. Its new hire attrition rate dropped roughly 50 percent, and the classroom portion of its training cycle shortened from nearly six weeks to about five. The company also automated how it tracks its agents' follow-up calls and collects what it has coined Voice of Customer feedback. Its productivity variation plummeted by 15 percent to 20 percent, and justified customer complaints have fallen by about 50 percent each year--in 2001 they tallied 21, that dropped to 11 in 2002, six in 2003, three in 2004, and there were none in March 2005. Schumaker says, "The reps [are] more productive in a much more expedient fashion." The Payoff By implementing Merced Performance Suite, Electric Insurance:
  • saw up to 100 percent of its new hires pass their insurance certification on the first try;
  • decreased its new-hire attrition rate by about 50 percent;
  • shortened its training period by one week;
  • consistently reduces its justified complaints by about half year-over-year.
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