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Customer Touch Award: Foresters branches out with CRM

Commercial insurance firm Foresters turned its business around by monitoring call center representatives, identifying call center trends and measuring service turnaround times.

For Foresters, a Toronto commercial insurance company, the challenge in implementing a CRM philosophy lay not only in retaining and acquiring customers but in increasing the number of members who actively volunteer within the company, a guiding principle since its founding.

About the award
The Customer Touch Award recognizes companies that are blazing new trails in the deployment of CRM technology in order to maximize customer touch points. The panel of judges gave particular consideration to those companies who made CRM an integral part of their overall business strategy and established best CRM business practices before during and after implementation. Three winners were selected from more than 40 nominations.

Foresters has a long history with the Children's Miracle Network, an international fundraising organization benefiting children's hospitals, and the company was dedicated to improving members' communities by focusing on the future of their children.

In 1998, Foresters faced serious challenges to its operations, both on the business side and in community involvement. There had been little investment in technology or training. The cost of service was going up, while revenue and profitability were in decline. Membership was shrinking and aging, with about 1% canceling policies every month. Additionally, there was an all-time low in membership involvement with volunteer activities.

The company embarked upon an effort to improve its customer service with the Membership Relationship Management (MRM) system. The system was dedicated to retaining current customers, improving organizational alignment, improving revenue and profitability, and acquiring new members by differentiating itself from competitors.

The program refocused the company on customers by aligning organizational objectives, implementing new technology and providing more opportunities for members to participate in volunteer activities.

Foresters' MRM has earned it one of's Customer Touch Awards.

MRM consolidated Foresters' data and improved its customer experience through such features as monitoring call center representatives, identifying call center trends and measuring service turnaround times. Third-party surveys are now launched to measure customer satisfaction.

The efforts resulted in a decrease in cancellations of 20%, allowing the company to retain about $9.5 million in revenue that otherwise would have been lost. Inbound calls were recognized as cross-sell or up-sell opportunities, resulting in up to $500,000 in additional annualized premiums.

"Today, our CRM system is key to us achieving our business goals," Nick DiRenzo, senior vice president for Canada sales and marketing and for the company's North American service center, said in an e-mail. "It helps us connect with all our customers across North America in a meaningful way. At Foresters, we are committed to having a more personal and rewarding relationship with our customers than they may get from more traditional financial service providers."


Read about the other Customer Touch Award winners:

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