Chatty-Chatty Makes a Bang-Bang Online Experience

Article Featured Image

For the rest of the December 2009 issue of CRM magazine please click here.

Every customer believes she’s a special case, an exception—and wants to be treated accordingly, as if she’s one of a kind. When it came to the auto-policy process at insurance giant Nationwide, run-of-the-mill buyers were able to successfully navigate the company’s Web site for information—ultimately purchasing insurance. Specialty insurance buyers, however—those with tickets and accidents on their records—weren’t as fortunate. 

“These users were met with a poor experience to transfer them to the phone,” recalls Ryan Browder, Nationwide’s manager of customer choice distribution. “It was this ambiguous message. Even when we tried to update the treatment and ideas on how to move to the phone, it still didn’t work. We saw considerable drop-off, as they weren’t able to get a quote online.”

This led customers to jump to the competition, which was able to deliver an immediate quote online. Browder explains that he and his team felt a chat solution would be able to help ameliorate the problem, but convincing Nationwide to make the investment meant finding a specific problem that new technology such as chat could address. The apparent issue with specialty automotive insurance buyers—high abandonment rates and low customer satisfaction—provided that opportunity, Browder says. 

Nationwide evaluated four or five different vendors looking for a chat solution that was both proactive and reactive, Browder recalls, but nGenera Customer Interaction Management rose above the rest. The vendor’s feature set was competitive, but a hosted option “pushed us over the top,” he says. “At the time, we didn’t see the value of having the solution on-site and wanted to go hosted to try everything out,” he says. “But we wanted the flexibility…, if the deployment was successful, [to] bring it in house.”

In late August 2008, Nationwide implemented the hosted version of nGen Proactive Chat and also created the Nationwide Customer Value Team (CVT). Browder says there were two main challenges to implementation: contact center agent adoption and legal issues. Noting agents were intimidated by the new technology, he says that training was necessary in order to make them familiar with the solution. 

“We went through the quote/bind process so agents were familiar with the screens that would pop up,” he says. “It was very advantageous to do this prior to going live so they were comfortable with the interface. They had a better idea of when the chat came across with a certain setting, the questions they’d be expected to answer.”

The legal aspect, Browder says, was a bit trickier because it was the company’s first experience using chat in the contact center. Everyone was brought onto the same page, he says, thanks to best practices supplied by nGenera as well as a compromise on a blacklist of items agents could not chat about “much like the phone world,” he explains. “Just making sure everyone communicated appropriately ensured it wasn't too much of a sticking point,” he adds. 

Browder says his team wasn’t entirely sure what to expect in terms of return on investment (ROI). He quickly found that the expectations he did have were exceeded. Customer satisfaction now rates 4.08 on a five-point scale, and the CVT initiates 100 chats per day, more than double the goal of 40. The bind rate—reaching a contract with customers—increased by a factor of five. For Browder, this was huge. “In the insurance game, even small percentage points mean decent money…and that’s only for six-month premiums,” he says. “Once you factor in the lifetime value of the customer you’re pulling in…it pays off.”

Looking forward, Browder says Nationwide plans on extending the proactive and reactive chat capabilities to the sales team and the service/support group. Cobrowsing is also in the works so agents can assist customers with more complex issues, which can help B2B customers. “Our internal customers that want to use it for B2B servicing…it can have a big potential ROI factor as well,” he says. “There has been a lot of demand internally, now that we’ve shown this is a working technology.” 


Since selecting nGenera CIM, Nationwide has:

  • achieved a customer satisfaction rating of 4.08 out of a possible 5 for its chat service;
  • notched a Net Promoter score of 82.3;
  • customers engaging with agents within five seconds
  • been able to initiate 100 proactive chats daily, surpassing the original goal of approximately 40 per day;
  • increased its “bind rate”—the frequency of contracts with customers—by a factor of five; and
  • agents handling up to five chats simultaneously.

You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top.
To contact the editors, please email 
Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit 

CRM Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues

Related Articles

NGenera Rebrands as Moxie Software

A few years following the acquisition of Talisma, nGenera unites its collaboration and customer interaction product sets on one platform.