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With a stable market to work with, software vendors have introduced a number of call center products and upgrades to aid e-commerce efforts in insurance.

Companies that have released major upgrades to core call center and call center CRM software suites in recent months include eAssist Global Solutions Inc., San Diego, and competitors such as Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc., Daly City, Calif.; PeopleSoft Inc., Pleasanton, Calif.; and Siebel Systems Inc., San Mateo, Calif.

EAssist has added eAssist Release 3.0, which comes with improved feedback reporting, scripting capabilities and network resiliency features, and PeopleSoft has introduced PeopleSoft CRM for Insurance, a version of its CRM software designed especially for insurers.

Genesys has negotiated an agreement to have the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Chicago, endorse its latest release, the Genesys Suite 6 contact center system. A lead competitor, Siebel, has come out with Siebel 7.5.

NaviSys Inc., Edison, N.J., a company that focuses on the life insurance industry, will be releasing a new version of its NaviSys Front Office software sometime around April. The new version will come with better tools for making information available to the call center agent and more templates agents can use to send letters addressing callers concerns, the company says.

Aspect Communications Corp., San Jose, Calif., another developer of heavy-duty call center applications, is finishing work on a tool called Scheduled Callback.

The tool tackles the problem of persuading callers who are holding to hang up without taking their business elsewhere, or, worse, hanging up, redialing and forcing the insurer to pay for another “toll free” telephone call.

The Aspect tool will be different from other scheduled callback systems because it will take staffing levels into account when determining what callback times to offer, according to Karen Hardy, product marketing director at Aspect.

Performix Technologies Inc., Burlington, Mass., says it is helping to expand the agent-improvement software niche.

The new Performix product, Emvolve Real Time Manager, helps the agents themselves track their own performance while they are working. Emvolve Real Time and its sister product, Emvolve Performance Manager “give individuals within the call center ownership of their own performance,” says Rosemary Turley, vice president of marketing at Performix.

Other new tools for improving agent performance include SIVOX RealCall, a call center training simulator from SIVOX Technologies Inc., Lombard, Ill., and SmartContact Center, a “coaching system” from Robotel, Montreal, Canada.

A call center manager can use the Robotel system to take over an agents computer or whisper into the agents ear while the agent is actually talking to a customer, the company says.

Typical insurance call center technology prices can range from $3,000 to $5,000 per seat for companies that are updating reasonably current sites, and from $10,000 to $12,000 per seat for companies that are setting up systems from scratch, according to the Cap Gemini consultants.

Representatives for most of the companies interviewed for this article refused to talk about product prices.

Even for customers, getting prices is “almost impossible,” says Hugh Hale, director of technical services at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Tennessee, “even after you sign a contract.”

Just getting a firm price for the hourly labor rate is difficult, says Hale.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, March 3, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.