Allstate Corporation is the largest publicly held personal lines property and casualty insurer in America, and was number 92 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies in America. Earley Information Science (EIS) worked with Allstate Business Insurance, which sells solutions for commercial vehicles, properties, and liability exposures.
Allstate recently launched a new division – Allstate Business Insurance (ABI) – to bring commercial insurance products to Main Street. Before ABI, Allstate agents had sold only personal lines. Business insurance meant new products, new systems, and new underwriting guidelines. All of this novelty required policies, procedures, and reference materials to support agents.
Getting Allstate agents the information they needed to quote and issue ABI products was a challenge. The answers were out there, but the information was hard for the agents to find when they were in front of a customer and needed help right away. They had to sift through long documents in a SharePoint repository to find the answers. The only way to get help quickly was to pick up the phone and talk to Underwriting or Sales Support – even for answers to FAQs or to basic “how-to” questions about the new system. This approach overloaded the call centers, resulting in long wait times, and resulted in turn lost business opportunities. Many agents were slow to start routinely selling products in the new business lines.
Allstate needed a comprehensive help system to provide quick answers to questions at the point of need, accessible from the policy quoting system. ABI wanted to eliminate calls about FAQs so the call centers could serve their primary function – writing more business. Their goal was to make agents self-sufficient, and to build agent skills and confidence in their ability to sell commercial products. ABI could achieve faster growth with more agents choosing to invest time in selling business insurance products, and with more policies issued from the agents who already had sold them.
EIS helped Allstate by creating ABIe - the Allstate Business Insurance Expert. She is the one stop for answering questions and finding critical documents. ABIe provides step-by-step help for quoting and issuing ABI products. EIS designed ABIe to fulfill Allstate’s vision for an “avatar” – an on-screen personality that can literally “talk agents through” the process in plain language. ABIe understands the agents’ context – who they are, what product they are working on, and where they are in the process. With ABIe’s help, agents are able to complete the quoting process without engaging the call center. Additionally, ABIe has enabled agents confidently sell more business insurance. ABIe handles over 25,000 inquiries each month, and the volume is growing as more agents discover that she is the best way to get help fast.
ABIe represents the next generation in knowledge management – the “intelligent assistant.” ABIe finds answers through a combination of contextual knowledge and intelligent content. ABIe relies on component content, taxonomies of key concepts and terms, and curated tagging and search. Content is created to answer specific questions and to provide step-by-step instructions to very specific tasks.
Web analytics technology tracks how agents interact with content – what they search for, what they find, and what is useful. Agents rate the content, and comment on the content and on the performance of ABIe. Data analytics helps ABI identify new FAQs and emerging issues in order to stay one step ahead of the agents – continuously providing high value self-help content. ABIe is so responsive that some agents actually mistake her for a real person – they even try chatting to her! But ABIe can recognize this and routes agents who need help to chat with a live agent.
Every day, thousands of Allstate agents ask ABIe questions that used to go to the call center, or go unasked. Asking ABIe is faster than phoning the call centers and has become the preferred way for agents to get help. Agents have easy access to the knowledge they need to become effective at selling, quoting, and issuing business insurance. As a result, commercial policy sales have grown, and business stakeholders can rapidly publish FAQs and critical information, just in time. Moving forward, ABIe is becoming a primary communications channel for Allstate to engage agents with help, news, and other critical information.