Irish Eyes Are Texting Responses for Auto Insurance Campaign

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An Irish insurance marketer relieved inbound call volume pressure on its call center by implementing a wireless-text response channel for consumers replying to a direct response campaign.


Dublin-based Hibernian's campaign for its Ignition auto insurance product, aimed at younger and less-experienced drivers, generated such high call volumes that some calls didn't get through to a toll-free number. The effort, which featured Irish-born soccer star Damien Duff, promoted Ignition via DR television, radio, billboard and magazine ads, creating peak volume times right after the ads ran.


Part of the call center's job was to qualify consumers who responded. To qualify for Ignition auto insurance, consumers must have passed their driver's test in the past five years, have a clean driving record and own a car with less than a 1,400 cubic centimeter engine. Only 20 percent of inbound callers met the criteria.


To ease call volume and increase the number of qualified calls, Hibernian implemented an automated response system using a combination of wireless text messaging and an interactive recorded voice response mechanism. Hibernian began including a response number in its DR ads to which consumers could send their contact information via wireless text.


The system, implemented by Adeptra, an automated interactive response technology firm based in Norwalk, CT, and London, then places a return call to the consumer with an automated voice recording. The recording quizzes consumers to see whether they qualify for Ignition insurance and, if they do, patches them through to a live sales rep.


Hibernian started the Ignition campaign in early June and added wireless text response three weeks later. Since then, 44 percent of responses have come via wireless text, and of those the Adeptra system has allowed only 39 percent to pass through to a live agent. That translated into less wasted time at the call center and a 34 percent reduction in cost per conversion.


"The target market for inexperienced drivers that we're talking about is very text literate," said Steven Forsythe, managing director of Strength Five, Dublin, the consulting firm that helped Hibernian implement the Adeptra system. "Anybody under the age of 50 is completely conversant in texting."


Wireless text messaging has yet to catch on with the general public in the United States, though the younger generation has begun to use it, said Vytas Kisielius, president of Adeptra.


The main obstacle is that wireless users presently can text only within the network of their provider, whereas European wireless users have texted across networks for years. Once U.S. wireless providers shift completely to digital networks and find a way to allow texting across networks, the phenomenon should blossom in the United States, Kisielius said.


Adeptra can implement automated response systems in other media including voice, fax and e-mail. But Hibernian for now has decided to continue answering direct calls to its call center live rather than implementing an automated response system for qualifying responses to the call center hotline.


The present Ignition campaign is expected to continue through the end of the year. Forsythe declined to discuss Hibernian's plans for use of the technology next year but said the insurance provider was looking at ways it could be used with its other products.


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