Traditionally, the telephone has been a primary marketing channel for insurance companies. But phone-based marketing took a severe blow when states began passing Do Not Call legislation over the past several years.
As an increasing number of states and, ultimately, the federal government adopted their own lists, heavy fines forced insurance companies to comply with the regulations, a process that has become increasingly cumbersome and expensive. According to the Federal Trade Commission, more than 85 million people are on the National Do Not Call Registry.
Robert Kirkland, director of field technology for Greenville, S.C.-based RBC Liberty Insurance, says he weighed the potential exposure to fines and started to look for a solution to meet the requirements of Do Not Call lists as soon as the first states started adopting them in 2002. Initially, he relates, RBC Liberty Insurance addressed the requirements by downloading lists to spreadsheets on agent desktops as the lists became available. To ensure compliance, agents had to perform the onerous task of checking each number to make sure it wasn't on the list before dialing. "It was a very time-consuming process," Kirkland notes.
Realizing the loss of productivity agents suffered with only three state lists and anticipating that more states would adopt similar legislation, Kirkland wasted no time finding an automated solution. Most of the solutions he examined, however, offered little functionality other than automated updating of the lists, he relates.
But Norwood, Mass.-based Gryphon Networks' hosted Call Advisor solution exceeded its competitors in functionality and user-friendliness - and it was less expensive than many of them, according to Kirkland. "Usually, you get what you pay for, but this was an exception," he says.
The Gryphon Networks application is completely automated and requires nothing in the way of technology from RBC Liberty. Additionally, the carrier was able to pilot the solution - in June 2002 - before buying it.
Kirkland gives the solution high marks for its simplicity. All an agent needs to do, he says, is call a toll-free number to reach the Gryphon Call Advisor, enter his or her unique PIN and dial the prospect's number. If the prospect is on any Do Not Call list, the application blocks the call and plays a recording notifying the agent that the number is off limits.
Just as important, according to Kirkland, is a feature that enables agents to add customers to the list if requested (as required by law). Rather than scribbling notes to themselves and informing the home office of the request, agents can add numbers to the Gryphon database in real time, he says. Just moments later, the number is blocked.
Kirkland says Call Advisor has paid huge dividends as state Do Not Call lists have proliferated and the federal list went into effect in October 2003. Though RBC pays annual fees that amounted to more than $99,000 last year (the amount varies depending on usage), Kirkland estimates the company avoided $59.5 million in potential fines in the first quarter of 2005 and more than $140 million in fines in 2004 by using the Call Advisor service. "If we knew then what we know now," he says, "we would have done it sooner."
Case Study Profile
RBC Liberty Insurance (Greenville, S.C.; $4 billion in assets).
Lines Of Business
Individual and group life insurance, health insurance.
Gryphon Network's (Norwood, Mass.) hosted Call Advisor solution.
Provide automated process to prevent agents from calling people on state and federal Do Not Call lists.