Building a workflow for insurance reps

The American National Insurance Company discovers a big sales boost in branching BPM applications

With more than $3 billion in sales and more than 2.3 million customers, 100-year-old American National Insurance Company (ANIC) has quite a few legacy systems in operation.

The greatest challenge for ANIC was around customer service. "Customers wanted information about the relationship between us and them," says Gary Kirkham, vice president and director of planning and support at ANIC.

Although CSRs (customer service reps) went to great lengths to satisfy a query, it often would mean a handling time of 10 or 11 minutes, as reps drilled down into one system for a piece of the answer, logged out, and went into the next system.

"The reps had to have enough talk that was meaningful while they worked between systems," Kirkham says.

ANIC wanted one interface with all the data immediately accessible to the CSRs. When Kirkham started the project in the '90s, the process was called "technology-enabled selling," he recalls, and it was only after Gartner redefined the market in early 2000 as BPM that the name came to mean something more.

After the processes have been modeled, Pegasystems is used to log on to all of ANIC's legacy systems when a request comes from a workstation. A transaction is launched and comes back to a clipboard behind the scenes of the workflow. When a customer call comes in, Pegasystems taps into the various customer files and history and sends the information up to the CSR. "Depending on what the customer asks for, different business rules are enacted that take the CSR down different paths," Kirkham says.

The original goal was to put the CSR in a position to help the customer as quickly as possible. As that improves, ANIC has a secondary goal of optimizing and automating processes.

When an insured customer dies, for example, it triggers an entire set of processes that used to be done manually. "Once Pegasystems knows an insured has expired, it processes automatically all the things three people used to do," Kirkham says.

The results for ANIC have been quite dramatic. Kirkham credits the new system with increasing sales in its annuity division from $750 million to $2.2 billion two years in a row. It does this by helping ANIC's 80 independent brokers differentiate among callers by which ones produce the most sales.

"Through our business rule, we can service one of these customers usually within 15 seconds," he says.