Meet the Latest 1to1 Impact Award Winners

Customer Service
Customer Service

We talk about best practices in customer centricity all year long, but once a year we recognize those whose results made an outstanding business impact. Winners of the 2005 1to1
Impact Awards demonstrated measurable success in one of four awards categories: Executive Leadership (Capital One Insurance Services), Organizational Transformation (Verizon Dominicana), Customer Strategy (Casa Del Mar), and Technology Optimization (Unitrin Direct).

Capital One Exec Leads the Charge

Tom Farrell, president and COO of Capital One's newly acquired and closely held insurance division, Capital One Insurance Services, had the guts to follow the acquisition
with a major capital and philosophical investment centered around customers.

A division of Capital One since early 2005, Capital One Insurance Services acts as a clearinghouse for home, auto, and life insurance. It had a huge brand behind it and
business was growing, although the company won't give specifics. But Farrell and the rest of his team saw long-term issues that threatened its growth. The division did not serve its customers quickly or efficiently.

Every time a customer contacted Capital One Insurance Services, its systems saw a brand new contact, regardless of whether it was a new customer or a multiyear policy holder. In addition, the contact center needed more agents and better software.

Farrell led his team in implementing a contact center system that made the right agent available within 12 seconds. The system is supported by a database that recognizes a caller and retrieves her history with the company. The results were dramatic. Applications for 2005
were up 10 percent; cross-sell revenue was also up 10 percent. Abandoned calls dropped by 42 percent and cancellation rates dropped by 60 percent.

On the people side, Farrell created a strategic leadership team, a group of middle level managers who meet weekly with him for mutual feedback. He takes top performing agents to dinner every quarter, and invites the entire management team to his home once a month for dinner.

Verizon commits to change

Early in 2005 Verizon Dominicana executives placed a huge whiteboard in the shape of a train in the lobby of the company's headquarters. "This train is moving," a sign above it said. And every day employees, from the CEO to contact center agents, sign in with a motivational message showing their commitment to change at the company.

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Verizon Dominicana, a subsidiary of Verizon Corp., has gone from a company obsessed with product marketing and delivery to a company obsessed with customers. It has defined specific groups of customers by needs and value, rather than simply by product usage, and it has now
identified every touchpoint at which it interacts with customers, throughout the enterprise. Business customers are now assigned to sales reps by value and needs, instead of product requirements.

Today Verizon Dominicana's employees, from the executive suite to contact center agents, are trying to understand what different customers need in terms of service, repairs, new platforms, billing, or new products, says Vice President of CRM Augusto Casasnovas.

Five factors were critical in this top-to-bottom reorganization:

  1. Senior-level buy-in. Executive support was divided into three levels of seniority to keep the project on track.
  2. Human resources support. HR worked to ensure that the company had the proper staff and the proper job responsibilities in place to handle the customer-value oriented identification and interaction strategy.
  3. Training. Sessions were held at all Verizon Dominicana's branches for more than 3,000
    employees to explain the customer identification and valuation strategy.
  4. Communication. Managers frequently held knowledge transfer sessions with non-executive employees to reinforce changes.
  5. Internal marketing. Verizon Dominicana created a motto for the initiative: "Building it with you every day." President Jorge Ivan Ramirez supported and discussed the effort in an interview in the company's employee magazine.

Casa Del Mar takes on Goliaths

Casa Del Mar Beach Golf & Spa Resort, a boutique hotel among large scale resorts in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, knew it had to differentiate to compete. It saw occupancy rates dip down to the high 40 percent range over the past few years.

Casa Del Mar's staff already provided courteous service to guests, but an "official" emphasis on the customer was lacking. Basic customer information, such as names, addresses, and telephone numbers, was not tracked. Marketing staff relied on sporadic advertising in travel
publications and trade directories to build brand awareness, and its Web site needed a lift.

General Manager Karla Colin and Director of Sales Claudia Vargas decided to focus on repeat business, emphasizing targeted service to keep and grow these valuable customers. The success of this plan depended on Casa Del Mar's employees. Every employee was trained on every aspect of the resort.

The hotel began collecting customer data as well. Using the new data, the team assigned customers to seven different segments, designed to make it easier to ensure that messaging appeals to specific interests. These segments include: prospects, previous guests, weddings/
honeymooners, travel agents, meeting planners, wholesalers, and media. Within each segment, the resort further differentiates customers based on such factors as special interests, geography, and income.

The results of the strategy revamp speak volumes. Customer satisfaction surveys now regularly produce scores of 95 percent and higher. The resort has seen a 68 percent increase in revenue since 2003, and repeat guests have increased from 30 percent of total room-nights to 45 percent since 2002.

Unitrin reaches out to customers

Since Unitrin Direct's launch in 2000 the automobile, homeowners, and rental insurance provider has attracted more than 6 million policyholders. Until three years ago, however, the company's regular communications to customers involved sending manually prepared letters or making individual phone calls to customers. Brian Crumbaker, senior vice president of claims and operations, decided to automate the interactions.

Unitrin deployed campaign management tools to track message delivery and message escalation. The software also provides reports that serve as an instant review of messaging activity. Unitrin Direct improved its collections process by sending payment reminders to prevent potential lapses in coverage. Additionally, the company reduced the number of inbound calls to its contact center by sending customers personalized information directly to their inboxes.

Unitrin Direct quickly realized the impact of this technology. The company increased its collections to $1.5 million per quarter. The service ultimately freed up contact center
agents to solve more complex customer issues.

More important still, Unitrin Direct can now communicate proactively with policyholders, which serves customers' interests and helps improve customer retention.

During the 2005 hurricane season, for instance, Unitrin activated the system to distribute emergency warnings to 30,000 policyholders in Florida in areas expected to be hit. These notifications provided recommendations about how customers should protect themselves, their families, and their properties. The messages also included information that the customer would need to file a claim if affected by the storm.

Crumbaker says the procedure allowed Unitrin to strengthen relationships with customers. "It allows us to be proactive about issues that require us to say, 'in an unfortunate event,
here's what you do,'" he says.