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Ground-Breaking Event

BCBSTX's focus on repeatable process and a standardized platform will benefit rollout of latest contact center.

This summer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX; Richardson, Texas), a subsidiary of Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp. ($11.7 billion in 2005 earned premium), broke ground for a 98,000-square-foot contact center in Amarillo, Texas. Planned to address anticipated growth over the next few years, the center will accommodate up to 500 employees.

The 3.3-million-member-strong carrier will draw on the expertise shared across Health Care Service Corp., which has built 20 sites over the past 10 years, according to Glen Doan, VP, contact center development, BCBSTX. "We have a pattern that we follow and an interdisciplinary infrastructure team that implements all the technologies in orderly fashion," he explains. "We expect to open in the fall of 2007 for training of new employees, and open production in January 2008," Doan adds. The initial complement of new employees will be 100 to 125.

Building a Standard

Owing to the carrier's standardized contact center development approach, the Amarillo facility will use BCBSTX's established enterprise contact center platform shared by sister facilities, as well as new technology currently available. "Our model is standardized across the enterprise for better service and delivery purposes, including for monitoring and reporting purposes," says Lanette Saetre, technical manager with integrated communications services, IT group, BCBSTX.

The platform includes an online, real-time claims and customer service system that was developed in-house and includes an IBM (Armonk, N.Y.) ImagePlus front end. BCBSTX also uses Cisco's (San Francisco) Intelligent Call Management (ICM) software and Customer Voice Portal. "With that we are able to prompt a caller by identity and route the call to the best available resource," Doan explains. "First contact closure is a key metric for us."

In delivering calls to the desktop, BCBSTX uses Cisco's CTI Windows Agent for computer technology integration "screen pop" and Oracle's (Redwood Shores, Calif.) Siebel Business Analytics for Insurance, Doan says. The carrier uses Aspect Software's (Westford, Mass.) eWorkforce Management to forecast and schedule customer advocate staffing. "We also use Nice [Rutherford, N.J.] call recording and monitoring software to capture voice and data screens during each encounter," Doan adds. The carrier also uses an in-house-built post-call satisfaction survey. "Between that and the Nice software, we're able to recreate the caller experience and coach the customer advocates to better handle the customer calls," Doan notes.

While construction of the Amarillo facility will take roughly one year, the technology implementation is scheduled to follow a 16-week template. "We focus on efficiency and repeatable process," remarks Saetre. "We've tried to standardize the process and make sure that we're also standardizing what we learn as we move forward." Technology that will be debuted at Amarillo will include Nuance Communications' (Burlington, Mass.) speech recognition to speech enable all caller prompts.

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

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