Speed is an important call center objective for American National Insurance Co. because "shaving a minute here or 30 seconds there makes a big difference in costs when you're running a call center," explains Gary Kirkham, vice president and director of planning and support for the Galveston, Texas-based insurer.Yet, flexibility is at the core of the steps that guide customer service representatives (CSRs) through conversations with callers. A key to managing call center conversations resides in workflow-helping the CSR pace the conservation and guide it in the desired direction.

"It's not just about viewing the data," says Earle Tutunjian, manager of strategic alliances for Pegasystems, a Cambridge, Mass.-based provider of CRM solutions. "The technology guides the rep through the interaction." To that end, the software's responses vary-based on the nature of the call and specific information about the caller or the policy, Tutunjian says.

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