External agents are known for building long-lasting, sustained relationships with customers-all of which helps fuel cross selling and up-selling.But representatives that work in call centers are known for engaging customers in a more sporadic fashion-all of which helps promote impulsive cross-selling opportunities.

Madison, Wis.-based CUNA Mutual Group, a provider of auto, homeowners, life, and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance products, is using a high-performance database engine from Objectivity Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif., for its credit union member database. Cross selling is part of the equation.

The Objectivity/DB-based application extracts detailed member information from more than 40 disparate systems at CUNA Mutual. "The key element (this investment) has provided for us is an ability to identify individuals and all of the relationships they have with CUNA Mutual," says Ron Marsden, assistant vice president of business systems and operations, member solutions group, CUNA Mutual.

CUNA Mutual recently went live with the database engine at its customer service call center in Waverly, Iowa. For example, a member may call to change their address on an AD&D policy, explains Marsden. "This application enables us to acknowledge other relationships he or she has with us and possibly serve another need related to those other products," he says. "This helps us better understand our total relationship with the customer. We anticipate using it for cross selling much more extensively in the future."

Other insurers are also benefiting from call-center cross-selling activities. In one program supported by a third party, Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate Insurance Co. is receiving a boost in sales volume for its credit card protection plans. In this program, insurance sales are not a "destination" purchase-credit card activation is.

Portland, Ore.-based LiveBridge, a provider of in-bound call center services to multiple industries, was appointed by Allstate three years ago to sell insurance products through LiveBridge's licensed insurance agents at its Olympia, Wash.-based contact center.

LiveBridge agents field calls from customers who are activating a credit card. As they do, agents pitch credit card insurance plans provided by Allstate. One program, for instance, pays a credit card balance in the event the cardholder loses their job.

LiveBridge CSRs have found that 55% of people they engage agree to listen to the sales pitch for insurance while 17% eventually take the offer for insurance, according to Chris DeLambo, director of marketing for LiveBridge.

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