Through a newly installed call center system that seamlessly matches outbound calls to appropriately licensed insurance agents and shortens the time it takes to change scripts, Humana Inc. is making more contacts using fewer agents.
Prior to adopting Edge, a computer telephony program from IMA, Shelton, CT, Humana call center managers had to reprogram their predictive dialers at the beginning of each shift to recognize the states agents were licensed to call. Now, each agent has a log-in code that identifies appropriate states. Once agents log in, the predictive dialer only gives them calls in those states. Agents are licensed in the state they reside and up to 20 other states.
The Edge combines predictive dialers, interactive voice response and fax systems.
“With the Edge combination, we have sped up our processes from a systems perspective,” said Alexis Underwood, acting director of business applications and training for Humana. “We have the ability to do ourselves what our systems people had to do in the past, such as loading scripts.”
The Louisville, KY, managed healthcare company began upgrading its five call centers in four states after discontinuing its existing system, Teletech Marketing Systems, a product of Oracle subsidiary, Versatility Inc., Fairfax, VA, because it was not Y2K-compliant.
“When Versatility informed us they were no longer servicing the program, it meant we would have to start from scratch,” said Underwood. “Once Versatility told us that, they lost any advantage they may have had as being a previous provider.”
Combined, the company’s dialers at 420 workstations in five call centers make 300,000 contacts out of 2.15 million calls in the average month.
“The Edge is the glue between the call center and the database,” said Kian Saneii, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for IMA. “Managing the agents is part of managing a telemarketing campaign. As the healthcare industry continues to grow exponentially, it is more important than ever that sales and customer service departments of healthcare companies keep up with the demand.”
All of the call centers are linked through a routing switch to the same database. If one center has an unusually high number of pickups on outbound calls made by a predictive dialer, the switch can route calls to agents at another center. Agents also have access to sales records and information of a subscriber’s coverage. The infrastructure for the telephony platform runs from an Oracle database.
Humana sells health and dental insurance, as well as Medigap insurance. Medigap covers the portion of medical bills Medicare does not cover for senior citizens.
“The system will make us able to expand as the need arises,” Polsen said. “We are currently looking at IMA’s other product, AdvantEdge, which will produce new telescripts more rapidly.”
Humana needs a CTI program to conduct telemarketing campaigns promoting sales of the packages of health benefits it provides to 6.2 million individuals in 15 states, including 480,800 Medicare patients who receive added benefits from Humana. Telemarketing is also used to make Humana subscribers aware of local events.
“We are looking to expand telemarketing beyond insurance sales at this point,” said Dennis Polsen, director of applications. “With the new system we are able to change scripts more proactively. Also, with a single dialer we can establish eight to 14 contacts per hour. We can cut down on the number of agents we need.”
The program was installed at each call center individually over the course of 1998 and Humana went live with the program last month. The installation was made easier through a development manager installed in the program.
“Most customers who use our services need someone up front to install the program,” Saneii said. “We have had clients that have been running in a matter of weeks, and others have taken a year. This is not a shrink-wrapped system. It is very sophisticated.”