An agent locator function on an insurance company's Web site is a good lead generator for potential sales. But what happens to a lead after it is passed on to the agent?
Originally, The Hartford's ($167 billion in assets) personal lines agent locator provided prospective policyholders with a list of agents in their area, as well as directions to the agent's location. The system was passive, says Dave Moore, assistant vice president, marketing strategy and communications, The Hartford. "We found that we had no way to track traffic" after it left the site, he explains. "The agency locator program The Hartford was using was built for a passive pass-through."
With the goal of maximizing leads that came to the site, about a year-and-a-half ago Dave Guadliana, The Hartford's program manager, began to search for a vendor with technology that could provide a closed-loop lead-generation program. One was InfoNow (Denver), the provider of the agent locator technology the Hartford already was using. "As an incumbent, InfoNow came in with some strengths," Moore says of the company that won The Hartford's "closed-loop" contract. As a result, InfoNow would host its locator/referral solution for The Hartford.
The Priority List
Needs assessment and contract development were completed in December 2000. In January 2001, The Hartford delivered a program description and technical specification documents, and developed business rules. The Hartford decided that agencies should be displayed according to proximity, consumers should drive lead distribution by selecting their preferred agency, and once an agency was selected a 24-hour timer would start to allow the pick-up of the lead by the agent. Also, The Hartford specified that if the lead wasn't picked up within 24 hours, or if the agent chose to decline the lead, it would be forwarded to the agent in closest proximity to the original agent.
Another rule specifies that after an agent accepts a lead, he or she has 10 business days to make contact with the prospect and reply back to the lead system with the prospect's disposition, says Guadliana.
The Hartford's extranet was coordinated by February '01. Alpha testing took place in February and March. Beta site testing, as well as agent usability testing, also took place in March. "Testing was done with selected agents to ensure they were able to access the system," says Guadliana. "Also, we got their feedback on usability." Agents said that they were able to easily navigate through the system and that the tool would be valuable to their agencies.
The deployment to The Hartford's extranet was completed in April. According to Guadliana, the whole process of implementation was smooth because of the implementation document. "It provided a detailed, understandable map of the process for both technical and non-technical people working on the project," he says. The insurer's Locator/Referral solution is hosted on InfoNow's managed service environment. The application runs on Sun Microsystems (Palo Alto, CA) Solaris-based equipment.
The Hartford is now able to maximize its sales leads, says Moore, who adds that policyholders still are able to navigate easily through the agent locator section (where they still are given the option of viewing a list of agents and maps of their locations). Now prospects are given the additional option of having an agent contact them, either by telephone or e-mail. Leads are then electronically matched up with agents within a policyholder proximity. Agents receive a notice via e-mail informing them that they have a lead. The agents must then visit The Hartford's extranet, enter their IDs and access the lead.
Serving the Best Agents
After an agent receives a lead, says Moore, The Hartford "asks that they let us know if the business was closed, lost or postponed." If agents do not relay the information to The Hartford, explains Moore, they don't get additional leads. "We are trying to feed the best leads to the best agents," he says. "If they don't follow up, then they are not providing prospective policyholders with the ultimate Hartford experience."
According to Moore, The Hartford's original goals have been met. "We are able to package consumer data and electronically transmit it to agents," he says. "We can also do a back-end analysis to see which agents are more proficient on following up with leads and also closing the business."
Case Study Closeup
COMPANY: The Hartford Financial Services Group (Hartford, $167 billion in assets).
LINES OF BUSINESS: Personal/commercial lines P&C, life, reinsurance.
VENDOR/TECHNOLOGY: InfoNow (Denver) solution; Sun Microsystems (Palo Alto, CA) equipment running Solaris.
CHALLENGE: Track policyholder traffic after it leaves The Hartford's Web site.