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For its insurance agency software, Farmers Insurance looked toward Salesforce about five years ago to help streamline the customer experience and update its online presence.
"Our customer satisfaction with the website was subpar, to say it nicely," said Amanda Reierson, head of digital at Farmers Insurance. "When we began to look at Salesforce, we looked at it across a variety of ways, the first being the modernization of our website."
The modernized platform and billing capabilities increased Farmers' customer experience and prompted the company to expand Salesforce into other operations, including its contact center and internal processes.
'We crossed that tipping point'
Financial services and insurance agencies are among the industries that tend to adopt new technology slower than others, like retail. Between legacy systems, security concerns, regulatory mandates and an overall skepticism of new tools, insurance agency software is still catching on.
"I did a survey with insurance executives about what was holding them back [in regards to new technology], and they said there isn't enough in the CRM products -- it was still easier to write it all ourselves," said Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research Group and author of You Can't Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It. "I think we crossed that tipping point a while ago. Any business where you're dealing with tons of customers will benefit significantly from analytics and machine learning."
While Farmers began using Salesforce for its website modernization, the company soon began adopting other Salesforce products to create more efficiency. In addition to using Service Cloud to help with claims and billing in the contact center, Farmers has used Wave Analytics to help with its internal processes and sales leadership.
"If you look at the offerings across the whole stack, that's what set [Salesforce] apart," Reierson said. "We still haven't utilized the whole thing."
One product Farmers is still looking at is Einstein, Salesforce's AI functionality. Reierson said the company doesn't have any live projects using Einstein, but could see it being used in the call center, for example, to help with better routing.
'Important for us to tread lightly'
With nearly 100 years of service, Farmers is not immune to the issue of legacy systems. The company is working to update and upgrade its internal processes to better suit the modern customer and give its agents a full 360-degree customer view. That's proven difficult, however, primarily due to the decades of systems, acquisitions and consolidations.
"Our systems have grown organically, and we've had acquisitions as well," Reierson said. "If you look at our different lines of business, we have been consolidating into one system of record so we can have that single customer view."
Amanda Reiersonhead of digital, Farmers Insurance
Another area these legacy systems have affected is the sales process for Farmers. The company has adopted several Salesforce tools but is still working on fitting Sales Cloud into its business processes.
"Right now, the unproven area for us is some of the Sales [Cloud] tools," Reierson said. "We need to figure out the right way to phase into it as we modernize our legacy systems. We've placed our bets on web and Service Cloud. I'd say the sales piece is a little more unproven and it's important for us to tread lightly."
While it may seem as simple as just updating the insurance agency software and transferring the customers' data to the new systems, in industries like insurance and real estate, it can be easier said than done. Farmers is a nationwide brand, but a lot of its customers work with independent insurance agents.
"In order to get adoption by those independents, multiple insurance companies have to develop a critical mass of insurance vendors using Salesforce and show 'This is the way to do it," Pombriant said. "Once you get closer to that, you'll see a cascade effect and acceleration."
'Customer expectations are shifting'
The move to mobile is challenging and Farmers continues to work with Salesforce to understand how to better interact with customers through this mountain of different channels.
"Customer expectations are shifting overall," Reierson said. "As customers go more mobile, we're working with Salesforce to develop those capabilities. We want to make sure we can enable all those processes on the go. Agents shouldn't be stuck at their desk."
When looking at technology and insurance agency software, Farmers continues to keep its eye on their customers along every step. Since implementing Salesforce, Reierson said the company's customer experience score and net promoter score had more than a 70-point swing over the past four years.
"Customers don't interact with insurance companies all that much -- it's either to file a claim or pay a bill," Reierson said. "We need to make sure those interaction points count and leave our customers walking away with a good feeling. If we do our job right, technology will be an accelerator to those relationships."
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