Insurance & Technology is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


12:15 PM
Connect Directly

Conseco Drives Call Center Quality With NICE Suite

Using a suite of NICE products -- including workforce management, call analytics and call recording applications -- Conseco has built on technical improvements in its call centers to drive a culture of quality.

A complex systems environment is bound to limit quality to some extent, but for Carmel, Ind.-based Conseco, culture was an even greater constraint. Internal promotion of supervisors prevented the introduction of evolving industry best practices, and customer service representatives (CSRs) leaned on the multiplicity of systems to justify a level of performance that fell short of their abilities, according to Jim LeMere, director, customer call center, Conseco. "We had potential, but we lacked the outside perspective on what it was like to manage a call center on a continuous-improvement basis," he comments.

In 2006 Conseco ($4 billion in annual revenue) embarked on an effort to improve call center results by focusing on the capabilities of existing technology. Within a year, LeMere reports, the organization went from an average speed-of-answer of 8.5 minutes and an abandonment rate of 28 percent to a 30-second average speed-of-answer and a 2 percent abandonment rate.

Focus on Quality

Having achieved these improvements in speed, the carrier turned its focus to quality, with an emphasis on coaching, notes LeMere. "You would ask supervisors how much time they spend on coaching, and they would reply that they'd really like to get to it because it was their favorite part of the job but there just wasn't time," he recalls.

In response, LeMere's team devised a plan for transforming service training based on a quality audit focused on customer experience. "At the heart of this was the question of how to get people focused on quality and know at any given time that they were focused on coaching," LeMere relates. "That's where technology came into play."

Seeking to upgrade Conseco's existing NICE call recording technology implementation, LeMere entered into a conversation with the vendor. "We also needed to upgrade unsupported workforce tools, so we started talking about [NICE's] IEX Workforce Management," he says. "They also told us about a quality package and call analytics tool."

Conseco signed a contract for a suite of NICE products -- including IEX, call analytics and call recording solutions, and Perform with Interaction Analytics -- in December 2007 and implemented them by August 2008 in what LeMere calls a "big bang" approach. "The [Perform] tool spans all of our call centers globally, including two in Jamaica, one in Manila and one in Carmel, Ind.," he says.

A View of the 'Universe'

The NICE Perform with Interaction Analytics solution included capabilities that Conseco already had -- such as the ability to create and track quality auditing forms and deliver them to CSRs -- but it also featured more-sophisticated integration and a coaching package, according to LeMere. Now, "Every representative gets a 'My Universe' screen at their desktop that delivers their quality information," he explains.

Supervisors using the coaching package can review calls and identify positives and negatives and suggest improvements. The reviews are then attached to the appropriate call recording and 'shipped' to a CSR's My Universe interface, LeMere explains.

From his own My Universe page, LeMere can receive reports on supervisors' activities, as well as read and create his own quality reports on CSR customer calls. "It provides a much faster way to deliver feedback to one or multiple people; to initiate open, two-way, electronic coaching discussions that can be referenced for ongoing development and performance reviews," LeMere says. "From my desk I can listen to a call rep in any location and initiate a coaching package -- it's a phenomenal tool."

According to LeMere, as a result of the NICE implementation and training improvements, as well as actions that address processes beyond the control of CSRs, Conseco experienced an 18 percent increase in quality between August 2008 and May 2009 based on an audit of technical, policy compliance and customer experience criteria. While LeMere declines to share what Conseco has invested in the NICE solution, he says he expects a "guaranteed payback" on the investment within 24 months.

"We aren't measuring ROI, but we have had a significant increase in our service delivery and have been able to solve several small problems using call analytics," LeMere says. "The real payback will come as we continue to analyze the reasons people are calling and are able to reduce repeat-call volume at a rate that will pay for what we spent on NICE several times over."

Case Study Snapshot

company: Conseco (Carmel, Ind.; $4 billion in annual revenue).
lines of business: Life, health and annuities.
vendor/technology: Suite of NICE (Ra'anana, Israel) products, including Perform with Integration Analytics.
challenge: Drive quality of customer service representative performance in a continuous improvement environment.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

Register for Insurance & Technology Newsletters