SAFECO Expects Call Center Consolidation to Improve Service

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SAFECO, an insurance and financial services provider in Seattle, is consolidating its 20 call centers in nine locations throughout the country into four centers so it can streamline its call center operations and get its consumers in quicker contact with the most qualified representatives.

The four centers will be located in Seattle, Denver, Indianapolis and Spokane, WA, and will employ 1,200 representatives -- 300 at each site.

"This will bring to us a more streamlined and centered approach," said Greg Bland, director of contact center operations at SAFECO. "With less staff and the centers staffed more properly, it will give the callers a more consistent experience."

The first center, which will be the main one, is scheduled to open in Seattle next July. The other three are scheduled to open in the summer of 2001. The Seattle center, described as state of the art by SAFECO, will have 70 support and management positions as well.

The new system will allow multisite call routing among the centers. Changes will include the implementation of work force management, which will track calls made over a two-week period and predict the number of incoming calls for the next two weeks.

"With that information we are going to be able to set up scheduling more effectively," Bland said. "This will also track the performance of all employees down to the representative levels."

All representatives eventually will work with a new contact-manager desktop software called Clarify. According to Bland, it will act as a hub, tracking contacts and storing that information in a database.

Clarify will be integrated with CTI technology that will match the phone number of an incoming call with the information on that caller contained in the SAFECO database. That information will be accessed and directed to the most qualified agent.

"We want to get the caller to the best qualified representative as quickly as possible without sending them all over the place," Bland said.

SAFECO's call center handles 5 million calls a year. It expects to see that increase to 10 million a year within three years.

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