Business leaders at American National Insurance Co. checked under the sofa before sitting down to assemble the customer relationship management (CRM) jigsaw puzzle. Why? Because they wanted to make sure they had every piece.First, the business units of the Galveston, Texas-based ANICO defined their CRM vision as precisely as possible. Next, the company selected Pegasystems, a software provider they say has delivered the proper CRM technology for their specific needs. Third, the insurer formed a team of committed customer service employees who meet regularly to share knowledge and guide the CRM effort.

"All of these things coming together made our success with CRM technology possible," says Gary Kirkham, ANICO vice president and director of planning and support. The CRM systems help the people who answer the phones find information, conduct interviews, follow up on requests and make proactive calls. Similar tasks are automated through some of the division's Web sites.

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