Allstate Ignores CRM Skepticism

Allstate expects to increase sales and cross-selling opportunities by making it possible to share customer data throughout multiple apps.



Despite analyst reports and user surveys that question whether customer-relationship management systems can deliver on their hype, Allstate Insurance Co. is going ahead with an extensive CRM project that pulls together its marketing-campaign management, sales-lead management, and call-center apps. Once the system is fully operational next year, it's expected to increase sales and cross-selling opportunities, and improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention rates.

The integrated CRM system, known as the E-CRM Center of Excellence, has been in the works since September 2000. Allstate VP Dennison DeGregor says the insurance giant would like to put to use a wealth of customer data stored in back-office systems. "We want to make the right offer to the right customer through the right channel at the right time," says DeGregor. "That's really the Holy Grail of CRM."

Although DeGregor has declined to reveal the cost of the project, he says the rule of thumb for implementing such an extensive system is $100 million in three years. Allstate expects to see incremental revenue gains, as well as potential savings from improved efficiency and productivity.

The project's biggest challenges, however, are cultural rather than technical. For instance, call-center workers, typically judged according to the call volume they handle, will become revenue generators by turning calls into sales leads and cross-selling opportunities. As a result, Allstate is devising new metrics for evaluating call-center employees.

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