Phone Survey Option Improves Customer Retention and Satisfaction


Plum Insight


IVR Surveys Built with Plum Insight


The Erie Insurance (Erie) claims division needed to upgrade its customer feedback program from a manual to an automated process, so Erie added a voice channel to its customer survey process. The new phone survey, powered by Plum Insight, provided Erie with actionable data that informed the company about their customers’ claims experiences. This information also gave valuable insight for enhancing customer retention, improving customer service and sales procedures and educating customers on their coverage.

The company’s claims division is one of its customer-facing wings and uses surveys to gauge customer satisfaction. These surveys are deployed over the phone using an interactive voice response (IVR) system and via the web.

Company Story

Founded in 1925, Erie Insurance is a Fortune 500 insurance company based in Erie, PA. The company offers home, auto, and life insurance products to over six million customers in twelve states. They work with more than 13,000 independent insurance agents and employee over 6,000 employees.


Erie’s claims division uses customer surveys to obtain feedback on the company’s service. The surveys originated as a manual (mail-in) process that involved sending surveys via the postal service to customers and then process once returned. According to Barbara Lincoln, Erie’s Director of Business Integration and Claims, they received and processed an average of 4,900 surveys yearly, and the ends didn’t justify the means. Even with completed surveys, the manual process lacked an efficient way to analyze and share the data they collected; therefore, the feedback remained anecdotal and under-utilized.

The desire to keep up with technological advances motivated Erie to update its manual process to a web-based approach. The company also incentivized customers to complete the survey by offering $100 cash prizes selected randomly from the respondent pool. The response rate jumped 7% after going online, but Erie realized that having a web-only survey may disadvantage people without or unfamiliar with computers. Adding a telephone survey to utilize the voice channel would level the playing field and enable more people to respond.


While researching vendors, Lincoln found that “Plum [Plum Voice] was the best known in the industry for IVR” and recommended it within her professional network. An added advantage was that Erie selected ConfirmIt to design, build and deploy its web surveys, and they also are a Plum partner. Since the web survey application was already in play, the task became translating it to the voice channel. Erie highly valued ConfirmIt’s combination of strategic and operational skills, so they could easily lead the integration.

Erie received positive feedback from its customers about the phone survey, and they got the actual survey data. The voice application automatically sends the current day’s data to the company’s web dashboards each night, giving the claims division the information needed to make adjustments quickly and better respond to customers.

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“We conduct regular reviews of all of our vendors and we’ve never considered changing. The reason is that Plum is consistent and credible.”

Barbara Lincoln, Director of Business Integration and Claims


The bevy of data generated by the surveys enabled real change at Erie. Instead of only receiving 4,900 survey responses per year through the mail, the voice channel added another 1,000 completed surveys per month. While the response rate declined from the mail-in process, the overall volume of responses increased drastically by adding the voice survey option.

The nightly data transfers enabled Erie to tie customer feedback to specific customer service representatives (CSR). The company established a customer satisfaction index (CSI) metric and tied it to CSR bonuses. The CSI gets updated daily and pushed out to over 300 claims management personnel in real-time. 

Erie’s claims division places great value on having easily sharable, actionable data. Here are a few of the benefits they found of adding a phone option to the survey process:

  • The ability to obtain survey data quickly enables Erie to respond to customer feedback within 24 hours. Not only did customers appreciate the quick turnaround, but Lincoln said some customers were surprised at the follow-up pace as a result of their survey comments. This practice supports the claims division’s customer service and retention efforts.
  • Data produced by the phone surveys provided Erie’s CSRs with a more accurate understanding of what upsets customers. This insight led Erie to revamp several procedures in the claims department, like advising CSRs to employ a more sympathetic disposition when dealing with customers who experienced a loss. Maintaining a customer-first mindset with this information led ERIE to design detailed training materials for taking loss notices. These materials stressed the importance of avoiding a clinical, data-first approach when talking to customers and replaced that with an empathetic approach. The inspiration for this change came from customer feedback obtained via phone surveys.
  • Customer survey data also helped the claims division better understand a common pain point - customers didn’t understand their plan coverage until they made a claim. When the plan coverage isn’t what customers expect, it often leads to frustration. Using customer feedback, the claims division realized this issue often originates in the sales process. Using actionable data, the claims division identified the most common area customers didn’t understand about their coverage and shared that information with the sales and training divisions.

By adding another survey response option, Erie saw a significant increase in response which led to improved CSR interactions with customers and increased customer satisfaction.

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