Five calls to a contact center to discuss an auto claim that should have been resolved on the first call will make even the most patient policyholder angry. But much of the frustration could be eliminated if the call were immediately directed to a manager who is calm, patient and especially skilled at dealing with similar situations.
Through the use of online analytic processing (OLAP)-decision-support software that allows users to analyze information that has been summarized into multidimensional views and hierarchies-users can obtain data to predict behavior based on historical information. For example, demographic and call history information may be used to conclude that there is a good chance the policyholder will threaten cancellation. Also, past call center rep performance may show which employee in the customer service operation is the best "match" for a frustrated customer.
During a time when opportunities for gained efficiency are few and far between, the use of CRM analysis is emerging as a crucial component of customer service and marketing success. With the dynamics of the current economy, analytics are becoming more and more important because they identify pockets of opportunity throughout the organization, says Sharon Sibigtroth, managing director, CRM data architecture, AXA Financial (New York, $480.9 billion in assets). And AXA is not alone. A growing number of insurers are realizing that, without the navigational tools offered through the use of analytics, a carrier is flying blind.
"The insurance industry is waking up in a big way to analytics," says Ron Young, general manager, insurance, Siebel (San Mateo, CA). "Not just analytics for the executive, but for everybody."
Finding Homes for Orphans
AXA Financial is hoping to improve its customer satisfaction with an initiative aimed at matching "orphaned" customers-those who are not linked to a specific intermediary-with financial advisors. According to Sibigtroth, the project is still in its investigative phase, but currently the organization is utilizing SAS (Cary, NC) and Siebel analytic tools. The tools, says Sibigtroth, "allow presentation, in a graphically appealing way, for people who make decisions to adjust a process, identify a problemarea or measure against a plan."
The carrier leverages its technology investments through the analysis of marketing components that help identify cross-sell rates and propensity scores. Additionally, AXA currently has a small application that enables analysis of information regarding its call center operations. The carrier uses the system (which provides data on the number of calls, reason for calls and the timeframes in which they are received) in order to enable better resource planning. Additionally, says Sibigtroth, AXA uses its analytic tools to help identify the correlation between actionable programs and measurable results.
In addition to the use of online analytic tools, a portion of the AXA analysis process is conducted off line. "We do a lot of scoring models around analysis of customer information," says Sibigtroth. "This way you can develop buying patterns, attrition rates or surrender models so that advisors can be pointed toward more appropriate customers." According to Bob Blumstein, research director, CRM analytics and marketing applications, IDC (Framingham, MA) the assignment of a customer's likelihood of purchasing, up-selling or churning requires offline analysis.
Customer satisfaction is the objective of Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina (BCBSSC, Columbia, SC, more than $1 billion in assets), whose analytic applications focus on the customer experience from the birth of an issue to its resolution. According to Anne Castro, chief design architect, BCBSSC, the carrier is performing event tracking on a small level. As with AXA's initiative, the project is designed to identify details of policyholder calls. BCBSSC's requirements for a tool that can track information over the telephone include "the ability to interface with all types of phone switches so that the events can be tracked on a detailed not summarized level," says Castro. Such capability enables carrier access to information about how long policyholders were kept on hold, when the carrier verified who the person was, all the way through to follow-up events if a resolution was not reached over the phone.
This type of information is especially helpful to BCBSSC because it enables the carrier to measure results against service agreements it has with operational business units and external clients. BCBSSC's eventual goal, according to Castro, is to build more efficient paths to resolution. Such information will also help the carrier evaluate call center rep performance and help determine the neccessity of staffing adjustments.
When looking for an analytic application, carriers should know that "the ability to aggregate time-based information is an important feature," says IDC's Blumstein. "If you were to look at a speedometer you would only know one piece of information. What you also need to know is what highway you are on, where you are headed and what your progress is. That information needs to be aggregated over time." Additionally, before embarking upon such an iniative it's important for a carrier to have a good grasp of what they are trying to do.
More carriers, such as AXA, are moving away from projects aimed at acquiring new business and focusing on tapping into their existing customer base. According to Dale Clark, senior director, Heat product line, FrontRange Solutions (Colorado Springs), the cost of deepening an existing policyholder relationship is eight to 10 times less than gaining a new one. Also, carriers are learning that sizable returns can be realized by "segmenting your customer base into socio-graphic or income segments," reports Andy Hirst, director of worldwide financial services marketing, Business Objects Americas (San Jose, CA).