How Progressive Direct is using cloud-based customer management to drive incremental sales

Managing director talks through the insurance provider's customer experience management platform transformation and the sales and service benefits it's realising

Increased sales conversion, more efficient customer service support and better business decision making are just some of the benefits Progressive Direct claims it’s experiencing after overhauling customer management systems internally.

The online-only car insurance company has been operating in the Australian market for several years, positioning itself as a low-cost alternative based on its advanced pricing and segmentation approach. Initially owned by US giant, Progressive Corp,  the local subsidiary underwent a management buyout in April 2017, teaming up with a consortium that included Hollard Insurance Company, and setting out on its own.

It was this transformation into a smaller business and the need to find a replacement back-end email management and CRM solutions that led Progressive Direct towards an all-in-one cloud-based offering, its managing director, Simon Lindsay, said.

“What we need to do against incumbents is be more efficient across the board. That’s why we are interested in using smarter, more innovative solutions, as it’s about keeping premiums low for our core customer base,” he told CMO.  

“Part of the buyout meant reinventing ourselves to become more self-sufficient and leaner. I’d always wanted to have CRM-type platform that was more up to date, cloud-based and innovative - what I’d call turnkey. With a big corporation, you get stuck with legacy systems that are clunky, expensive and just get behind. This buyout was a great opportunity to reset.”  

Having explored options from Salesforce and Zendesk, Progressive Direct opted for cloud-based customer management provider, Freshworks. Lindsay noted the “rental style model”, and ability to quickly turn on features seamlessly connected as key selling points.

Initially, Progressive Direct required an email system. Lindsay said the company was then presented with a lead opportunity by a distributor towards the end of 2017, which would send additional leads provided his team could outbound call them.

“We realised Freshworks has a built-in approach that integrates outbound emails, lead scoring and tracks it all, so from lead to contact, target, converted goal. It was all integrated so we could turn it on and go,” he said, adding built-in VoIP was another plus.  

Progressive Direct has also tapped into the platform’s email ticketing workflow solution, which addresses the point at which customers submit problems through to processes at the back end to deal with those issues.

Three months ago, the company switched on chat, which Lindsay said delivers extra functionality and auto-processing for better FAQ and proactive interactions.

“We are using that to replace email as much as we can. It helps us solve problems more quickly for existing customers, but we’re also using it for sales support for prospects,” he explained.  

“We want to make the most of our media money, so we’re looking to chat to enhance conversion and stickiness. We then have an outbound program, where we get signals from customers that may be leaving us. We take that from our insurance database, put into our outbound CRM then have people outbounding to them, trying to understand what they are going through to save as many as we can. We’ll do more of that over time.”  

Progressive Direct is using the platform across teams situated in Melbourne, Australia, and Manila, Philippines. As MD, Lindsay said the benefit of this common cloud-based system is he can immediately see what’s going on his mobile.

“I can look at the conversations happening more readily, which makes it less intimidating,” he said. “Today, more of us are looking, measuring and understanding what’s going on so we can react and make decisions off the back of data. Before, things were out of sight, out of mind. Having this system makes it more transparent, acceptable and less confronting.”  

Building business

For Lindsay, ROI includes being able to turn chat into higher chance conversion. “We are having more active discussions where we can see a positive conversation flow that leads to more ability to convert that customer,” he said.

This has led to better recognition internally of operators doing a better job of conversion. “For example, I’ve seen an agent having a chat where there’s an easy conversion opportunity and someone is asking for help, but they’ve missed it,” Lindsay explained.

“From a business perspective, it meant we identified sales prospect channels we could push more to stronger sales teams, say in Manila, versus the local guys, who are more service centric.”  

As a result, Progressive Direct has reduced its policy cancellations by over five per cent since deploying Freshworks.

Chat is also structured so people opt-in either as new or existing customers. “We can get that new customer to flow more quickly into the hands of the sales people as we know they can spot those identifiers and convert them better,” Lindsay said.

In addition, Progressive Direct is using technology to become more efficient at identifying frequently asked questions from customers to answer.

“Ultimately, it’s about quickly identifying trends, then making adjustments to the team to make them more aware of something, whether that’s closing out a service issue faster, or closing a sale,” Lindsay added.  

“It helps create a catalyst, particularly for sales. And it’s addressing two things: Customer service, and increasing the number of sales conversions we can get or customer we can save. It’s so far above an ROI, it’s been transformational.”  

What’s also helped is combining technology capability with the team in Manila to create an ecosystem. This is generating incremental sales for Progressive Direct, Lindsay said, which far outstrip both the cost of software and the Manila team.

The next step for Progressive Direct is to take advantage of machine learning horsepower to find further sales and marketing efficiencies.

“It’s also about more lead and outbound lead activity and we gave a few more projects looking for new lead sources,” Lindsay concluded.  

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

 

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