A Top 20 Multi-line Insurer

Reviatalizing In-force Services

Our client is a top-20 multi-line insurer that serves personal, commercial, and specialty markets. It distributes its products through a network of dedicated career agents and the company has a long history of customer focus and service quality, with a focus on America’s middle market. It is now extending its reach into new states. The company was once primarily a property-casualty distributor but has expanded its business mix to include more life and annuity products, critical contributors to agency growth and survival in small-town and rural locations.


The company desired an immediate reduction in in-force service backlogs so that its agents would be able to reach year-end goals. Specifically, service cycle times had to be improved at least 20% to approach competitive levels, the pending transaction inventory had to be reduced significantly, and the wide swings—often over 250%—in service cycle time had to be narrowed to a more consistent level of 10–20%.

Current Environment

The in-force servicing area consisted of approximately 50 staff, most of them long-tenured, who responded to post-issue service issues—phone calls, customer requests, and agent requests, for example. There were managers splitting the staff, while others were sharing completely complementary, blended teams, both doing the same work. Phone calls were answered by all staff of both teams based on a rotating schedule. Transaction work was being performed simultaneously. In addition, all staff were expected to process work from all of the product lines. Although staff had been cross-trained to accomplish this wide range of work, stress levels were high and quality mediocre due to the breadth of knowledge required. Employees’ inability to develop a routine further exacerbated the situation.

Engagement Scope

The engagement focused on the end-to-end processing of all service transactions and calls. To address the immediacy of the need, an intense problem resolution approach referred to as “triage” was undertaken. Some of the solutions put into action right away were interim, intended only to patch the problems long enough to achieve immediate improvements. The triage approach buys time for determining and implementing permanent corrections. In this client’s case, without an immediate fix, there might not have been a need for a permanent one. The triage approach involved:

  • Identifying high-impact, quick-hit ideas
  • Developing a plan to attack the pending tasks
  • Reallocating staff to focus on key problems
  • Solving the phone service quandary
  • Establishing easy-to-measure goals
  • Expediting decision-making on changes
  • Challenging longstanding but ineffective rules Strong top-management support was key to quick implementation of the necessary changes.


By collecting several hundred ideas from staff and then selecting the highest-impact of these, within 60 days:

  • Pending inventory was reduced by 50+%
  • Cycle times were reduced by 60+%
  • In Good Order tasks were processed in under five days
  • Service variances dropped 20%
  • Phone answer improved to a 95% average

The company exceeded its year-end growth goals without sacrificing its reliable, competitive service. Staff productivity is at an all-time high, morale is strong, transactions are now handled promptly, and, most important, the agents are very satisfied.