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May 17, 2010   Email to Friend 

Fast Insurance Service Is A Phone Call Away





Alfa is striving to provide better customer service through a new and improved Web site, and to assist with that, the company is also aiming for excellent customer service on the phone. Alfa's Marketing Resource Center offers extended hours and provides support to customers and service centers through a 1-800 number and online chat. Through Alfa's Web site, www.AlfaIns.com, customers can chat online with someone in the Marketing Resource Center. Customers can also call 1-800-964-2532, which connects them to a person even after normal business hours when local Alfa offices have closed.

"The Marketing Resource Center is a strategic part of our internet initiative," said Walter Overby, vice president of Alfa's Corporate Internet and E-business. "Best practices indicate that for an insurance company to offer Web access, it must be aligned with a highly skilled contact center. Our Web site and the Marketing Resource Center are strategically aligned to support both existing and new customers as we continue to develop and deploy self service, quoting and sales."

The center began in 2006 to support the agents and customer service representatives with the rollout of the company's new automobile system. In August 2008, the center extended its hours and began offering support for customers.

"We support the service centers and customers and provide them assistance with whatever they might need," said Susan Adcock, vice president of Marketing Resources.

Alfa's 1-800-964-2532 number, which is now printed on materials sent to customers, connects them with the Marketing Resource Center.

"Customer contacts have increased 20 percent every month since the first of the year," Adcock said. "We're expecting that trend to continue." The launch of Alfa's new Web site last year also meant the availability of an online chat feature handled through the resource center.

The chat, which is designed for customer use, saw "international" use the first day.

"The first customer who used online chat was a woman in London," Adcock said. "She was on vacation and needed to know how to pay her bill." The center has a call back feature, which gives customers the option of not having to hold. Instead, as soon as an agent becomes available, the customer will receive a call back.

"If a customer is on hold for two minutes, they are offered the opportunity for us to call them back," Adcock said. "They don't lose their place in line."

This allows the Marketing Resource Center to handle all of the calls coming in, even during busy times.

"We have implemented technology that provides for the Marketing Resource Center to manage their call traffic and document all customer contacts, which is transforming this area into a first-class contact center," Adcock said.

If you call your local Alfa office after hours or on the weekend, the call is automatically forwarded to the Marketing Resource Center.

The Marketing Resource Center is currently open from 6 a.m. to midnight seven days per week and is open on holidays. Adcock said there is a chance the center will expand its hours at some point in the future as necessary.

"We are an extension and expansion of the agent and the relationship they have with their customers," Adcock said.

Agent business cards have the number to the Marketing Resource Center on the back so customers will have that number handy for after-hours calls. Customers can call the same number to make a payment, report a claim and for other customer service questions.

"So many customers these days can't or don't want to do business between 8 and 5," she said. Adcock said the most common questions relate to payments. Some frequently asked payment questions include: "How much do I owe?" "When is it due?" "How do I pay?"

Adcock said another way to make information more easily accessible for customers is an "Ask A Question" feature on the Alfa Insurance Company Web site. When a customer types a question into the Web site, the Marketing Resource Center receives an e-mail if the answer is not currently available on the Web site. The question will then be answered for the customer.

"Our mission is to provide the best customer experience possible so that dealing with Alfa outside of normal business hours is a convenience for our customers," Adcock said.


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