Scientific Approach Keeps Agency on the Fast Track
Insurance Networking News, December 2007
Adding metrics to customer touch points results in agency's ability to increase first-call closes and improve overall sales.
Insurance.com is an INNovators Award Winner runner-up, chosen for its approach to improving its quoting process.
Actuarial activities aside, insurers in the midst of trying to improve market share don't typically incorporate strategies that include the scientific testing of theories. Time and resources are of the essence, forcing most companies to take a less calculated, full-speed-ahead approach to driving sales.
Insurance.com, the Solon, Ohio, provider of personal lines insurance, may be an exception. With a mission that calls for operational excellence, the company has grown to employ 270 people and log more than $750 million in gross written premiums. Representing 15 major carriers, this year the company passed the half-million mark in policies sold.
The agency's growth has been calculated, but not without challenges. With a business model not unlike that of some of the larger carriers it represents, Insurance.com uses a Web-based approach to attract and retain new business. Personal lines auto customers and potential customers access the site, fill out certain information and culminate the transaction in the company's Sales Center with an Insurance.com call center representative or online.
Not surprisingly, the company's approach to measuring growth, and growth potential, includes a number of factors-one of the more obvious being the impact of call center drop-offs.
"The goal is to bring the customer into the Sales Center call, quickly and accurately close the sale, reduce drop off and agent talk time, while continuing to deliver a positive user experience," says Dave Roush, CEO of Insurance.com.
The challenge, however, was in dealing with multiple-call sales and fewer finalized sales.
"Clients would often begin the quote process without critical information, such as drivers' license numbers and vehicle identification numbers (VIN)," recalls Roush. "This meant that follow-up calls were necessary to gather data, resulting in increased touches per sale, inflated cost per sale and deteriorating bind and conversion rates."
Since many consumers typically do not have that information within reach, it often required a follow-up call by the consumer or sales representative.
"Additional calls lead to higher sale costs. Multiple calls also introduce the risk of consumer drop-off," says Sam Belden, Insurance.com's director of carrier performance.
Roush tasked IT director Joe Singleton to come up with a solution. At first blush, Singleton knew his team would need to take a measured approach.
"Historically, we've applied a scientific approach to most of our issues," he says. "It's about being in uncharted waters. Insurance is a dynamic place, and when dealing with consumers, even solid, common sense assumptions don't always pan out and you risk experiencing bad results."
Singleton points out that the initial catalyst was to shorten the interview. "When you are dealing with many carriers, you need the least common denominator on your question set. We knew we needed to prefill the app and make it streamlined."
That meant finding a solutions provider that could make that prefill data available. After a review that included the checking the firm's data quality, platform compatibility, references and track record, Insurance.com chose Acxiom Corp., Little Rock, Ark. Then the team went about devising a proof-of-concept.
In the proof-of-concept, Insurance.com Sales Center employees asked prospects for permission to pull driver's license and VIN. Upon approval by the prospect, the Sales Center representative simply input the prospect's name and address into a standardized data request/ response interface. In less than a second, Acxiom's Pre-Fill solution verified the prospect's name and address and the availability of state data.
In addition, Acxiom returned a listing of the prospect's vehicles, VIN and driver's license numbers to the agent's desktop.
The goal was to validate consumer acceptance, data validity and touch-reduction assumptions. For the purpose of testing, the Sales Center was divided into three groups:
1. Reactive Group-Used the Acxiom data to supplement a customer's known data. Agents only ordered data that the customer did not provide. For example, if a customer had two vehicles, but could only provide one VIN, the agent would order Acxiom data to pull the VIN for the second car.
2. Assumptive Group-Used Acxiom data to pre-fill as much customer data as possible. This group ordered all data needed, without first requesting it from the customer.
For more information on related topics, visit the following channels: