Consumer Interaction Award: Game, Set and Netmatch

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Award Winner:
The Mather Companies, Cockeysville, Md.

Award Category:
Field Sales Automation

Company Products/Services:
Maureen Tierney, Helen Godwin and Denny Mather of The Mather Companies Provides employee benefits and group insurance products to more than 9,300 companies and associations. The products are marketed exclusively through independent insurance brokers.

Implementation Timeline:
Eight months to design and implement
Implementation Team:
Helen Godwin, broker services manager; Bradley strohl, executive vice president; Maureen Tierney, marketing consultant

Approximately 48 brokers who account for 60 percent of the company's annual sales

Business Challenges:
Mather needed to give its sales force-specifically the brokers in the field-a superior selling tool if the company was to excel in its competitive market. At the same time, management wanted to improve sales outcomes and shrink costs by finding ways to reduce the time company staff spent preparing quotes and sales materials. Finally, the company needed to create a unique marketing and recruiting vehicle that would distinguish The Mather Companies from its competitors.

Automation Solution:
With help from Medical Data Interchange, a software development firm, and Microsoft VBA/ Access, the Mather development team designed a custom software application called Netmatch that automates and accelerates the process through which brokers can give quotes to potential customers. Before Netmatch, brokers went through the laborious process of manually submitting their quote requests to several insurance carriers, then analyzing the proposals and developing them into a spreadsheet of recommended plans. Now, brokers simply enter a few fields of data into their laptops and are immediately provided with a professional, easy-to-read quotation that looks as if it were created by a professional graphics and word-processing team. What used to take them 15 days by the manual process now takes about 15 minutes via Netmatch.

Using the program, brokers can display multiple carrier rates for multiple lines of coverage and can instantly look up physicians and report on their participation in a dozen networks. Netmatch generates spreadsheets, market analysis reports, executive summaries, benefit plan descriptions and premiums for more than 800 insurance products including dental, medical and life insurance. It also carries out detailed plan searches based on specific client criteria, plan design, deductible and maximum premiums.

Business Benefits:
With Netmatch in place, The Mather Companies' proposals and sales departments now spend more time helping brokers with need-specific problems, rather than just gathering general quotation information. The sales cycle has been reduced and, because Netmatch is unlike any other desktop sales tool, the company has received market-wide recognition and has attracted more brokers.

Customer Benefits:
Broker satisfaction has increased since Netmatch was implemented. The system has replaced the old labor intensive, manual quotation process with one that takes only minutes to complete. Netmatch enables brokers to complete several tasks automatically. It also gives them the ability to fill out actual employee enrollment forms for an entire group; display multiple carrier rates for multiple lines of coverage; include provider matching for each employee's physician; produce professional color proposals for submission to the client; and reduce the sales cycle to potentially one appointment.

The Bottom Line:
By expediting the quotation process, The Mather Companies has recognized a variety of tangible benefits. Customer satisfaction is up; the sales cycle has been lessened; its own staff is free to focus on specific problems rather than chasing information manually; and the company's own reputation is enhanced, thus allowing it to attract more brokers. The Mather Companies estimates that Netmatch will aid in recruiting an additional $25 million in new business over the next six months, and will save labor costs by allowing the organization to redirect internal resources to more revenue-producing functions.

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