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Creative software shaping employee satisfaction

01 Feb 2012

Leading New Zealand assistance provider First Assistance has taken a significant step towards decreasing its staff turnover by improving training methods, with a creative customisation of Microsoft’s new Dynamics CRM 2011 software, cut training time dramatically by giving staff a simple, intuitive platform from which to work. A recent survey estimated staff turnover costs New Zealand businesses as much as 150% of a departing staff member’s annual salary - making it one of the biggest liabilities facing organisations.  In niche industries, like the emergency assistance industry, staff expertise is critical to customer care and levels of personnel churn due to the demands of the job can be high, the problem is amplified. First Assistance CEO Mary-Jo McDonald sees the rollout of the new software alleviating much of the pressure inherent in the company’s customer service roles. "As the link between a number of New Zealand’s top insurers and their customers, First Assistance is called upon to provide issues resolution for people who are often at their most stressed and upset. Facilitating the difficult task our employees face and finding a way to take some of the stress out of their role by automating much of the background work will help to improve job satisfaction and longevity in the role,” McDonald says . "In such a high pressure work environment as ours, the processes that we put in place can be the difference between a successful, satisfied team and one that struggles to keep its best people.” Until now, First Assistance had operated on a system which saw much of the legwork done manually. Policies were stored centrally on the company intranet and staff were required to reference these during claims. Because the company works with a number of insurers, employees needed to have a detailed understanding of hundreds of policies, with small but vital distinctions between competing insurers’ policies a potential for confusion. First Assistance’s new case management system, dubbed inCase, automates large parts of the inbound call process for international insurance cases and dramatically lessens staff training requirements. inCase leads those answering inbound claims calls through a stage based series of policy specific questions, known as the Decision Tree. By automating much of the process, staff are able to focus entirely on the customer’s issue and individual needs, and suggest the best courses of action or advice.  "We have built our business on hiring experts in their chosen field, so when you call with a medical or automotive emergency, for example, you will be speaking with a trained medic or mechanic,” say McDonald. "inCase is allowing our team to really hone in on what they’re truly passionate about, which is helping people.” In cases of major catastrophes, such as the recent ash clouds in South America or Japanese tsunami, policies may change by the hour. inCase takes into account the need for immediate updates with a simple backend interface that can be modified in-house. This means that staff and customers can be sure that the recommendations of the Decision Tree will always relate to the most recent policy iteration. McDonald believes the new approach to case management will bring an increase in the speed and accuracy of decisions as well as dramatically cutting down on staff training time. "The use of the Decision Tree makes it very difficult to drop the ball, even on our most complex cases,” says McDonald. "Essentially this new software means we can begin working with new clients or acting on policy changes virtually immediately as there is no need for employees to internalise large amounts of information.” inCase also monitors progress and gives up-to-date check list items (CLIs) of deliverables for each case, removing the need for lengthy case notes. With the majority of international insurance cases requiring more than one contact, the seamless transition prevents double ups and wasted time for the customer. "The new CRM based software will see improvements in our service across the board which will translate to a better experience for those taking out policies with any one of our insurance clients,” says McDonald. "Each of our employees is a specialist in their field, ranging from medical, linguistic, travel and claims expertise, and with the help of inCase they will be able to get back to simply addressing the needs of the customer. Those contacting First Assistance will notice less time researching policy entitlements or bringing ourselves up to speed with a case, more involvement in understanding their need and a greater level of familiarity in each interaction with our staff,” she says. Along with launch of the Dynamics CRM customisation, which went live last month, the upgrade also includes a doctor and client portal which allows quick access to cases for assessment and feedback, dubbed inTouch, and an internal communication hub for First Assistance called inForm.