REVIEWER: Brent Wyrick, AVP, IT Application Development, Grange Insurance

BACKGROUND: For nearly 75 years, Grange Insurance and its network of independent agents have offered auto, home, life and business insurance products through independent agents. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Grange has more than 1.8 million unique customers, $1.3 billion in annual revenues, $2 billion in assets and an “A” (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best

PLATFORMS: Our business application environment at Grange is heterogeneous and policy-centric. Our customer hub data is sourced from four primary business systems. The largest contributing source is our legacy policy administration system, which provides customer and policy data for our property and casualty business. Life customer and policy data is provided by our Oracle Trimark system. The other two sources are processing systems, claims and billing customer data. There is also a fifth data source from our consumer Web portal application for a limited set of customer attributes. For data quality and enrichment, we parse and cleanse the customer address data to CASS standards, as well as geo-code the customer address using Pitney Bowes GeoStan.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Ease of Doing Business and EODB are registered trademarks of Grange. EODB is one primary building block that helps the company succeed in its corporate vision to provide the best possible insurance experience to its customers. Grange decided to change its view of data from policy-centric to customer-centric so that we can better service each individual associated with a policy as well as obtain a better understanding of the complete set of products that an individual or business may own. Initiate Master Data Service identifies individuals across several policy, billing and claims data sources and provides a comprehensive and accurate customer-centric view of data across all Grange policies. In short, Grange wanted to make it even easier for agents and consumers to work with the company so they will continue to come back.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: One obvious technical impact of EODB was the shift from policy to customer-centric view of data, and we turned to Initiate Master Data Service to accommodate this critical paradigm shift. To be successful, we needed to enable key applications to obtain information across multiple policies for a particular customer. Success of our customer hub project depended on a timely launch of a new internal customer relationship management tool and our customer facing Web portal. Both applications were delivered on time and without major issue and are delivering results and contributing to our overall EODB goals. Some sample internal CRM metrics include:

  • Since going live more than seven months ago, we have had only 40 help-desk tickets related to the implementation, of which only 27 were related to customer hub data issues.
  • We went into production on time.

Some sample customer portal metrics include:

  • 44,970 total customer registrations since portal launch in February (approximately 200 registrations per day).
  • 44,053 unique visitors to our Web site in July, representing a 52 percent increase in visits per day since project launch.
  • 97 percent increase in time customers spent on site.
  • 89 percent of Web site visitors noted they could find all the information they were looking for, while more than 90 percent found it easy to complete the functions they need to perform.

Finally we can look at the data found within customer hub and overall data quality.

  • 1.8 million unique Grange customers (we were unable to derive this number before implementation).
  • 1.8 products per customer (we were unable to derive this number before implementation) and we expect this number to increase with improved marketing through cross-sell and up sell.

To sum up the value of our customer hub: It made a lot of things better. In general, we are able to better serve the entire organization. Special requests for customer-centric data that once took a few days are performed in a few minutes. We expect the marketing organization to be the next consumer of this customer-centric approach. A previous request for a complete set of unique customers across all policies was nearly impossible, but this request can now be serviced in minutes and with much higher accuracy. This is a productivity increase that is difficult to measure because we were simply unable to handle many of these requests before. Many processes will be affected. We have a backlog of 84 different projects, all of which will provide substantial value to the organization. Moving forward, we have involved all the stakeholders across the various businesses groups so that they maintain ownership in our customer hub project success and have direct input into the future. Status of the project is communicated as part of existing reports that are sent throughout the chain of command.
STRENGTHS: The most important lesson we learned during our MDM implementation was to never underestimate the importance of data quality. We were very concerned about the potential for false positive matching due to business use of customer Social Security number and inconsistencies in the format of customer name. Initiate Systems Master Data Service was able to mitigate these data quality issues with custom false positive filtering. As such, the customer hub was delivered on time with no risk to the corporate Consumer-EODB Web portal project. It has received high marks for customer satisfaction. Since the Consumer-EODB public launch, there have been more than 44,000 successful customer registrations and less than 40 problem cases due to data matching. The data matching statistics exceeded our expectations. Even with some pre-existing significant data quality issues, Initiate Systems Master Data Service was able to help Grange achieve an approximate overall matching percentage of 85. We were also able to successfully engage business participation in data stewardship and continue working to improve data quality.

WEAKNESSES: While the Initiate matching is very high, consuming data out of the hub for other applications has the appearance of being very complex. Initiate does a good job of providing documentation on their SDK for using the hub API. However application developers must have a good understanding of the Initiate proprietary data matching, bucketing and scoring processes, as well as their real-time composite view of customer entities. Initiate has great resources that are very knowledgeable about their product and current IT architecture. They are ready to assist with training or collaborate with your team.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Grange IT investigated building an MDM customer hub internally and quickly realized that we did not possess the skills needed to construct a customer data matching algorithm. We ultimately chose Initiate Systems for their expertise in high quality customer data matching using probabilistic algorithm technology tuned to our data. They had documented references in successful implementations in the B2C vertical using our preferred database technology, which also influenced our selection.

DELIVERABLES: The Initiate hub solution for Grange includes a Web service for a new customer portal (CEODB) that provides real time searches of all active policies for a customer in a single view. Initiate also created a Master Data Extract of our customer entities in the hub for our enterprise data warehouse to consume, creating referential relationships between our customer and policy data. There are many effects of EODB on the organization, but ultimately it means more business at less cost. EODB enables us to identify and pursue new opportunities while retaining our current set of customers with superior customer experience.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Initiate services and support get high marks for both timely and detailed implementation of their product. They work closely with the customer to understand their needs and specifications. It’s important to understand that they tune the hub to each customer’s native data and work very hard to ensure the highest matching possible. They understood our data quality issues and took steps to help mitigate their impact. At the completion of the implementation and QA, handoff to their support team was seamless. The support team, tools and communication are very customer oriented, and they do not hesitate to escalate issues as needed.

DOCUMENTATION: The Initiate product documentation is very detailed, organized and kept current with each version upgrade. Their documentation is very good, but each customer’s implementation differs and it would be unrealistic to believe that the documentation will cover every scenario or solution. Grange would not be able to maintain their product based solely on the product documentation.

Initiate Master Data Service
Initiate Systems
200 W. Madison, Suite 200
Chicago, IL, 60606
(312) 759-5030

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