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Tracking Trouble

To fix Web portal errors in real time and increase the productivity of its independent sales force, State Auto Insurance Companies taps TeaLeaf CX Solutions.

To support the 22,000 independent agents that serve as its primary sales force, State Auto Insurance Companies ($1.1 billion in total revenue) must quickly resolve any technical issues with its agent Web portal. But when agents would call the Columbus, Ohio-based insurer's IT department with problems, they would have to try to describe the problem, the error message and what led to it, relates David Russell, assistant VP of personal lines systems for State Auto.

"Users were unable to accurately recall specifically what they did or what happened," explains Russell. "To fix the problem, we had to recreate the user experience to see what actions they had taken and evaluate the Web portal's response." Sometimes, after hours or even days, IT could not recreate the error, hurting agents' ability to close sales, concedes Russell.

So in December 2004, State Auto began searching for software that would proactively monitor the agent portal and alert IT of any technical problems -- without interfering with other applications running in its system. At the time, according to Russell, the P&C carrier found only one solution that could capture and analyze an agent's online session interactions: San Francisco-based TeaLeaf's CX Solutions suite. The software is built on TeaLeaf's CX Datastore, which maintains a complete record of all Web-based interactions and is capable of real-time retrieval, the vendor says. It includes a self-contained appliance that monitors the carrier's systems without interacting with them, as well as security for customer-sensitive data, an online backup and automated IT notification of problems. "This was a unique technology when we started looking at it, and we felt that by implementing it, it would allow us to be ahead of the game," says Russell.

State Auto purchased TeaLeaf CX Solutions in November 2005 and immediately prepared its systems for the deployment by patching its operating system to be compatible with TeaLeaf's hardware and software, and installing Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) SQL Server. Next, the vendor installed its monitoring appliance. TeaLeaf then configured the software, which is housed on a capture server, to record all online agent sessions and file those sessions in a TeaLeaf CX Datastore where the carrier can retrieve the information. All hardware was supplied by TeaLeaf.

"Because we had pre-staged the operating systems and pre-installed SQL, implementation was finished within a week," recalls Russell. "After implementation, we immediately started recording and were able to identify a problem that was very elusive."

Previously, Russell relates, agents could not explain what they had done to cause the error, which resulted in problems for agents who were accepting payments from customers. "As soon as we installed TeaLeaf, we could replay what the agent had done and were able to fix the program," he says.

As a result, agent satisfaction has improved, Russell adds. Other benefits the carrier receives from the TeaLeaf CX Solutions include more time for IT to work on new-applications development, a reduction in customer service costs and more time for customer service. "Now we can ensure that our agents can accurately manage every aspect of their customers' needs," says Russell.

Web Monitoring


State Auto Insurance Companies (Columbus, Ohio; $1.1 billion in total revenue).

lines of business

Property and casualty.


TeaLeaf's (San Francisco) CX Solutions e-business monitoring appliance and software.


Recreate the user experience in order to respond to technical problems with the agent Web portal.

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