A Winning Proposal-- Customer Interaction Awards

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Award Winner:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire, Manchester, N.H.

Award Category:
Inside Sales Automation

Company Product/Services:
Provides a variety of healthcare insurance plans, including health maintenance organizations (HMO), point-of-service (POS) and preferred provider (PPO) and indemnity products.

Implementation Timeline:
Seven months for development and an additional 10 months for system conversion and implementation

Implementation Team:
Katie McDonald, BCBSNH vice president of sales and marketing; David Irish, vice president of technology for 1mind.com; Nancy Brome, proposal team leader

Primary users are three sales and marketing employees, members of sales and marketing management and a training and development consultant, who make up the Request for Proposal team.

Business Challenges:
As managed care evolves, consultants and employer groups rely on formal written proposals to determine the best value for their healthcare dollars. The Request for Proposal (RFP) team's prime responsibility is to write detailed descriptions in response to proposal questions. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire needed a system that would meet the needs of employer groups, increase team performance, keep pace with the changing insurance industry, preserve knowledge of those within the company who had worked on previous proposals and assist in creating persuasive proposals.

Automation Solution:
BCBSNH turned to 1mind.com, a technology subsidiary which was recently spun-off from BCBSNH, to create a custom groupware application called InfoBuilder. This solution was developed to help a single or multi-divisional team manage sales and marketing processes, which include responding to requests for information. InfoBuilder combines a knowledge management tool with the workflow tools and communications features of Lotus Notes. The program consists of five major components: the Workflow Log, which tracks each proposal project's status; Contacts and Resources, an archive of contacts who are part of the proposal response team; Monthly Reports, a file of the RFP Team's monthly activities; Working Documents, word processing files that can include text, tables and file attachments; and a Proposal Knowledge Base, where all the expert knowledge from previous RFPs is stored and can be easily accessed.

Business Benefits:
InfoBuilder has streamlined BCBSNH's RFP process, enabling the organization to achieve faster turnaround time with fewer resources. Consequently, a proposal team that previously included five members now consists of two full-time equivalents. InfoBuilder has also helped the team reengineer the work process to concentrate on producing client-centered, winning proposals. As a result, BCBSNH's proposal win rate has increased.

Customer Benefits:
InfoBuilder has enhanced relations with BCBSNH's two major customer bases: its internal customers, who include account executives and account managers; and its external customers, clients trying to decide which healthcare plan to purchase and consultants who are helping guide clients through the decision-making process. Internal sales personnel benefit from a central repository of information that can be accessed for routine answers to proposal requests, as well as through the increased quality of the proposals themselves. Additionally, the amount of time the sales personnel spend reviewing draft documents is reduced, since InfoBuilder's knowledge base is regularly updated. External customers enjoy the benefit of a sophisticated, detailed response to their questions, and consultants-who may receive several different proposals throughout the year-always receive a consistent message about the services offered by BCBSNH.

The Bottom Line:
It is estimated that commercial insurance firms can expect a 60 percent win rate from their written proposals. Since BCBSNH has implemented InfoBuilder, the organization has enjoyed an 81 percent win rate. At the same time, the organization was able to handle an increased number of RFPs and consolidate its workforce. The system is helping BCBSNH improve productivity and increase its responsiveness to customers.

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