When Farmers Insurance Group conducted testing on a Web-based customer self-service program, the Los Angeles- based property/casualty insurer considered implementing a capability that would enable customers to make changes to their policies.Farmers executives recognized the value of self-service capabilities. After all, enabling a customer to instantaneously make a change to their auto or homeowners policy represents the spirit of customer self-service. But earlier this year, as Farmers executives examined the concept further, they uncovered a flaw with the concept: Giving customer unfettered access to make changes was considered an affront to Farmers' agents.

"The original idea was to enable customers to make a policy change and then have it transmitted directly into our policy administration system," explains Riko Metzroth, vice president, business & technology integration, Farmers Insurance. "But our agents, who were involved in testing the program, took exception to this idea.

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