A year ago, Electric Insurance Co.'s predominantly inbound call center had only two people dedicated to making about 150 outbound calls per month to customers whose policies were in danger of being cancelled for non-payment. However, in any given month the Beverly, MA-based carrier ($300 million in revenue) had an average of 600 to 1,000 policyholders who were at risk of having their policies cancelled for payment delinquency.
"If we can contact or leave a message with the policyholder, we have a much higher rate of payment," says Jack Schumaker, manager, customer service, Electric Insurance. "If a policy cancels, that is significant because we don't reinstate policies cancelled for nonpayment." Since most policyholders who haven't paid their bills require continuous coverage, lack of notification that their policy may be cancelled hurts them, as well, according to Schumaker.
"Premiums with another insurer will be substantially higher" for policyholders who have had policies cancelled for nonpayment, Schumaker adds. "It's bad for us to lose business and for the customer as well," he says.
Because Electric's existing systemwhich involved contacting policyholders whose names were generated through a reportdidn't have the flexibility to contact customers via multiple channels, such as e-mail, fax and voicemail, the search for a new system began in early 2001. Schumakeralong with Dominick Cipolla, Electric's vice president of operations, and with input from Electric's IT personnelselected EnvoyWorldWide's (Billerica, MA) EnvoyXPress this past January. EnvoyWorldWide was the only company Electric could find that met the insurer's needs. "We found that there was no one else in EnvoyWorldWide's space," Schumaker says. "Not only is it flexible for smaller-scale applications, but through API application program interface we can automate the process." According to Schumaker, EnvoyWorldWide was also unique because it can help Electric expand in the future to transmitting to devices other than voicemail, e-mail and fax.
Prior to implementation, preparatory meetings were held in February and March. During this time, scripts were drafted by members of Electric's customer satisfaction teamthe people making the contacts with customers when outbound calls were done manually. Schumaker reviewed these drafts and, after input from EnvoyWorldWide was received and changes made, the team came to a consensus on the final draft. The draft was then submitted to EnvoyWorldWide for development and production.
In April 2001, Electric's IT personnel began working with EnvoyWorldWide's application engineers. Information, including customers' names, contact information, policy type, amount past due and due date, was passed from Electric to the vendor. In May, when testing of the system began with Electric employees who also were policyholders, concerns about simplicity and privacy convinced the company not to use the amount past due or the payment due information in its live version, Schumaker reports. Electric went live with the system in June.
Customer Service Enhanced
The only surprise that came for Schumaker during this project was the ease of implementation. "I expected more of a roller coaster ride," he says.
Also, Schumaker anticipated some customer backlashwhich hasn't happened. In fact, customers have thanked Electric for the reminders. "We can hit every policy," explains Schumaker. "This is a home run."
Electric subsequently extended the solution to remind policyholders of storm warnings. "We have sent voicemails and e-mails to help minimize damage and also to provide policyholders with contact information should damage occur," he explains. Electric also is working on a solution with EnvoyWorldWide to contact prospective customers who fail to sign policy packages that they've sent to the company.
CASE STUDY CLOSEUP
Electric Insurance Co., Beverly, MA ($300 million in revenue).
LINES OF BUSINESS:
Personal lines property and casualty.
EnvoyWorldWide's (Billerica, MA) EnvoyXPress.
Notify delinquent policyholders via multiple channels in order to prevent policy cancellations.