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Insurers improve productivity with KM

"Adding voice to the print material was simple," Larkin says. "This enables us to make consistent presentations." Some competing solutions offer full-length videos, but those are prohibitively expensive, according to Larkin, who adds that Brainshark multimedia provides a good middle ground between plain print and full video. By using Brainshark, the insurer has saved 40 percent on its travel costs and thousands of dollars in annual printing costs, because materials are all stored digitally.

"Now a lot of our customers are asking about using Brainshark for their own needs," says Larkin, who refers those customers to the vendor for more details.

Using KPIs to improve call center performance

Insurance.com has relied on Web-based information ever since the company’s founding to sell insurance for the different auto insurance companies that it represents. Policies are sold through Insurance.com’s call center, so knowledge about different performance metrics, like Web traffic throughput, business throughput and general traffic data, enable the company to quickly identify performance issues and bottlenecks before they escalate to customer service problems, says Scott Noerr, director of IT services.

The company had built its own application to measure those issues based on the C# programming language. But as new capabilities came into play in the rest of the insurance process, the legacy program became too expensive and cumbersome to update; it also couldn’t meet some of the current collaboration needs of different users.

Changing to a different system meant either building another one in-house or buying one, according to Noerr. The company already had an existing business intelligence platform from Cognos (now IBM Cognos) for historical reporting purposes. So Insurance.com turned to Cognos again for a real-time solution.

"It took a single developer only six weeks for the installation," says Noerr. "The most difficult thing was combining heterogeneous data sets into a comprehensive view."

That comprehensive, real-time view has enabled the insurance agency to recognize and eliminate call center bottlenecks to provide information to customers more quickly.

For instance, when an insurance rate request goes without a response from an insurance carrier, the problem can be quickly pinpointed, and Insurance.com staff can alert the insurance carrier to the issue before the carrier is even aware of it, according to Noerr.

In today’s fast-paced environment, if an answer isn’t delivered quickly, as was likely to happen in the legacy environment, the prospect will probably look for insurance information (and buy a policy) elsewhere, Noerr says.

The application has also enabled the company to better align its staffing with call center volume, Noerr adds. Dashboards provide detailed views by agent, by states licensed and by skill-set, as well as individual call statistics. Through that unified view of agent productivity, the company has eliminated multiple steps previously required for adjusting staffing levels to call volumes.

Insurance.com is now exploring more strategic use of the IBM Cognos monitoring solution, including better balancing the workflow of activities across the sales center, and more closely aligning online sales and marketing efforts, such as alerting the sales team every time there is an increase in activity. 

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