Consistently ensuring high-quality call center service requires the capability to effectively monitor and evaluate customer service representatives (CSRs). But the Conseco Insurance Co. (a subsidiary of Conseco Inc.; Carmel, Ind.; $4.2 billion in premium), which runs three call centers - corresponding to its three lines of business: life, health and annuities - staffed by 250 CSRs, lacked an efficient means to measure its CSRs' performance, according to Nick Taylor, a communications analyst at Conseco.
Prior to seeking a solution to more effectively monitor and evaluate its CSRs, Conseco utilized an antiquated system that was slow and ineffective, relates Taylor. Its auditors monitored and scored two to three calls per representative on a weekly basis, but the system's computer telephony integration (CTI) interface was not functioning as the vendor had promised - limiting availability of the application - and the lack of a binding contract limited recourse. Taylor declined to name the vendor.
Seeking a Simple Solution
Seeking the capability to randomly evaluate calls, Conseco decided it needed a tool that would capture CSRs' screens and conversations, as well as provide a reporting mechanism to allow the company to run various reports. An eight-person decision-making team, made up of an equal number of customer service and IT representatives, issued an RFP in the summer of 2002. "What we were looking for was a single user interface that was intuitive and didn't require a technical understanding of the system to retrieve and evaluate the quality of those phone calls," says Taylor. "The system had to have quality assurance, record on demand, reporting, ability to do screen captures, be easy to use and be intuitive," he adds.
Conseco found that Rutherford, N.J.-based NICE Systems' product suite best met the carrier's requirements, says Don Papp, Conseco's vice president of customer service. In addition to being the market leader, NICE also had an existing relationship with communications-network provider Avaya (Basking Ridge, N.J.), which supplies the phone switch in use at Conseco, he notes. In choosing the product suite, according to Papp, "Our goal was to have a true baseline of the quality of service we were providing to our customers, with a tool and benchmarks to use to improve our service."
It took just two weeks for NICE to install its product suite - NiceLog, NiceUniverse and Nice Analyzer - in the first quarter of 2003, says Taylor, who adds that no new hardware was needed for the implementation. Vendor representatives taught the IT department how the tools worked; in one week NICE trained approximately 30 people at various levels of the company. Those Conseco employees in turn trained CSRs, supervisors, auditors and managers, according to Taylor.
In addition to using the solution as a monitoring tool, Conseco also uses NICE as a coaching aid. Analysts listen to recorded conversations with customers to identify inefficiencies in CSR performance. For example, a CSR may not be accessing the right screens to get information requested by clients. Once a pattern is established, Taylor says, these inefficiencies can be addressed, improving the CSR's service acumen on an ongoing basis.
The results have been impressive. According to Papp, in the first six months following the implementation of the NICE suite, Conseco enjoyed a 300 percent increase in quality monitoring efficiency; the number of audits completed in a month increased from 369 to 1,286; and CSR quality scores were up by more than 5 percent between March and June 2003. "NICE lets us take care of our clients, which will hopefully lead to a longer and lasting relationship," he says.
"This tool allows us to go in and change the way we create audit forms and design new ones," Papp explains. "Furthermore, since NICE has been rolled out at the call centers, we discovered that it could be opened to other areas in the company such as human resources, the personal history unit and business retention unit."
Case Study Closeup
Conseco Insurance Co. (a subsidiary of Conseco Inc.); Carmel, Ind.; $4.2 billion in premium.
LINES OF BUSINESS:
Life, health and annuity.
NICE's (Rutherford, N.J.) NiceUniverse, NiceLog and Nice Analyzer product suite.
Effectively measure quality of service delivered by call center CSRs.