News Optimizes the Customer Experience, One Segment at a Time

On its path to leadership among online agencies, the "Orbitz of auto insurance" takes a fine-grained approach to improving customer satisfaction and driving more clickthroughs.
The integration and analysis efforts yielded more than a hundred customer segments described by source, status in the rate-quote engine, detailed qualifying information and other variables (the company collects some 72 data points in the process of generating a quote). To make the most of each segment, is using three core "customer experience management" software components from Chordiant.

The Decision Manager component is used to automate multivariant tests of new Web interfaces, creative, workflows, site navigation and so on for each segment. "We started varying our landing pages based on the source of the visitor, whether that's Google, an e-mail retrieve, typing in, a direct-mail postcard response or another source," Singleton explains. "The problem was maintaining and analyzing so many different experiences, but Decision Manager lets us feed the data from the SAS models into the decision engine, and it optimizes for each segment, identifying the best experience for each group."

Decision Manager has eliminated up to 15 hours of programming work per week (handled by several database administrators) while dramatically increasing the ability to test new experiences. Singleton says optimizing by source has increased click-through rates anywhere from 5 percent to 25 percent, depending on the segment. Going beyond the landing page, the company plans to use Decision Manager to test banner ads, help text, marketing creative and navigation within the insurance quote process.

Chordiant's Marketing Director component has been deployed to help develop and support outbound communication strategies for specific segments. "We're just starting to use this tool, but we're starting to take a segmentation-based approach to e-mail campaigns based on the characteristics of each candidate." Those traits might include the original source of the customer (Google, Yahoo, etc.), their status in the rate-quote engine, records of policies already purchased and so on.

The third and perhaps most important Chordiant component implemented by has been the Foundation Agent Desktop, which replaced a home-grown CRM interface. Rolled out in late 2006 after three months of testing, the desktop has been a hit with contact center reps in large part because it's integrated with the company's telephony environment. "Now when a call comes in, we can match the caller ID to our customer database," says Singleton. "If there's a hit, we can display all the customer information before the agent even answers the phone. That saves about 10 to 20 seconds right up front collecting information, and there's enough data to know where the customer is in the sales process."

Telephony integration has also delivered "much cleaner data capture," says Singleton. "Now when we're doing the analytics on the back end, we know what actions were taken on every call, and we can tie all of our metrics together in term of talk time, insurance application status, quotes issued and so on. It's a very streamlined process that hooks right into agent follow-ups and call backs."

Given that is a selling machine that leaves the messy details of servicing policies to the carriers, it's not quite an exemplar of total customer experience management. Nonetheless, it's setting examples that plenty of one-size-fits-all marketers can follow.