Progressive Insurance has won this year’s Global Contact Center Award issued by the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), in the category of “Best Strategic Value to the Organization.” Progressive Insurance’s contact center operation won this because of their integral importance to every aspect of Progressive Insurance’s operations, and their success in driving Progressive’s consistent growth.
Customer Experience Report’s Editor in Chief Loren Moss was able to catch up with Progressive Insurance’s Christine Johnson to talk about Progressive’s contact center strategy, and the “secret sauce” leading to them winning this important industry accolade.
Customer Experience Report: Progressive Insurance won ICMI’s contact center award for Best Strategic Value to the organization. What does that mean exactly? How does Progressive’s contact center deliver strategic value?
Johnson: The award helps to strengthen our brand. Our products are tailor-made, meeting the unique needs of our clients. Customers can buy our service whenever they want and wherever they want.
With six customer relationship centers, we help clients develop a long lasting customer relationships, providing easy, personalized experiences that build trust.
Customer Experience Report: Progressive is well known for being one of the more innovative insurance carriers with direct sales and online purchases. How does that make your contact center different from those of more traditional insurance carriers?
Johnson: We offer customers with an opportunity to contact us through a variety of channels – via the phone, digitally or through one of our more than 30,000 independent insurance agents spread around the country. We ensure that our systems honor those choices and offer seamless interactions across all channels.
To facilitate this, we have invested in a ‘unified view’ of our customer information, which make sure that customers will receive a consistent experience, no matter what channel they choose to interact with us.
This’ household view’ allows us to see the customer’s transaction history such as the status of their policy/billing, etc. As you note, we are constantly innovating to offer valuable and easy ways that help policyholders deal with issues they face.
We proactively engage our employees by investing in training, communication and continuous coaching and support to make sure that we provide the full value of those innovations to customers.
In addition to focusing on being innovative, we work hard to make sure that our customers feel confident, and are cared for in any interaction. For example, we provide them with expertise on insurance, explaining prices and time frame of the coverage.
Customer Experience Report: Progressive sells through various channels: Independent agents, telephone contact, and online. How does this multichannel approach complicate (if at all) your service delivery?
Johnson: Our sales and service model is built around choice. That deliberate approach is grounded in decades of multi-channel experience. Despite being arguably more complicated than any given single channel view, our systems, methods and processes are increasingly designed to optimize this holistic view. We believe it is a competitive advantage as consumers demand it in all that they do, not just insurance.
Customer Experience Report: What happens if a policyholder through your agency channel calls your direct contact center? Do they get redirected or have to call back? What happens if a direct policyholder walks into an agent’s office? Do they get turned away?
Johnson: Our call centers take calls from both direct and agency customers. Our customers can also call their agent directly for service, and our agents have access to the same information our call center representatives do in order to service them, or can call us directly.
If an agency customer calls for service, we do not redirect the calls back to their agent unless they want to purchase additional products. At that point, we ask them to contact their agent as we do not offer or sell new products to our agent customers. Our CRM systems filter relevant offers by customer to facilitate this for our representatives.
If a direct policyholder walks into an agent’s office, they do not get turned away. The agent can provide a quote for any product they sell to that customer.
Customer Experience Report: Tell me about how your contact center operations are structured. Are claims handled by a different contact center than sales, what about customer support? How large are your operations? Are they all there in Metro Cleveland or spread out? Do you have partners to support you with various languages, peak surges, etc?
Most sites handle both sales and service (customer support). Claims call centers are run independently, focusing on loss reporting and smaller claims that can effectively be handled over the phone.
We provide customer care in both English and Spanish. Calls route virtually across multiple sites to maximize efficiency in our 24×7 operation.