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Farmers Insurance Embraces IBM's Newest 'Serious Game' Innov8 2.0 for Employee Training to Optimize Call Centers and Customer Service


LAS VEGAS - 05 May 2009: IBM(NYSE: IBM) today announced that the University of Farmers, Claims -- which serves some 11,500 Farmers Insurance Exchange claims employees nationwide -- is piloting the IBM "serious game" Innov8 2.0 for students at its corporate university and employees at the Farmers HelpPoint call centers. As part of a comprehensive training program, Innov8 2.0 will be used to give employees a hands-on experience in processing claims and managing customer calls to streamline the company's business process and deliver top-notch customer service.

"We see serious gaming as an ideal delivery system for a number of learning opportunities, so these are just the first two areas in which we plan to deploy this technology," said Mike Cuffe, vice president of learning at the UofF, Claims. In the initial phases of piloting Innov8 2.0, Farmers is testing Innov8 2.0 for its effectiveness as a learning tool with Farmers HelpPoint call center employees, and as a consumer education tool on the Farmers.com Web site.

IBM's Innov8 2.0 is a 3D simulation game based on real-world business scenarios presented in a compelling game format that challenge players to come up solutions that drive results for both the company and the customers they serve. Among others, the challenges include those involving call center management and answering customer issues, optimizing a company's supply chain and addressing a variety of issues such as eliminating congestion on roadways.

The UofF, Claims, will be using the Innov8 2.0 call center simulation for training on automotive, home and specialty lines insurance claims processing as part of its award-winning curriculum.

Based in Agoura Hills, Calif., the University of Farmers is a 120,000-square-foot facility that includes a two-story mock home, a 20,000-square-foot auto bay, and eight Claims classrooms, including a live branch claims office environment. The facility delivers an immersive learning experience that helps Farmers claims representatives, both new-hire and incumbent, develop and refine their skills at customer-centric policy coverage determination, claims investigation and estimating.

The UofF, Claims, supports the development of every new claims representative from across the country in regularly scheduled, two-week-long, onsite line-of-business training sessions, and delivers additional learning via field instruction and online learning. It also hosts a wide range of intermediate and advanced courses for its 9,000-person Claims field force, both onsite and online. It also offers a comprehensive three-level Leadership Development program, designed to prepare Claims employees for advancement opportunities enterprise-wide.

As the nation's third largest personal insurer, Farmers receives more than 3.75 million claims per year -- which equates to 10,274 claims a day, 428 an hour, or seven per minute. Its Claims employees log more than 95 million miles in some 6,000 company vehicles, and its 3,000 Farmers HelpPoint call center employees respond to more than 5.5 million customer calls each year.

"Customer-focused, accurate and timely claims processing is critical to our company's bottom line," Cuffe said. "Since my team redesigned Farmers Claims' curriculum to give it a learn-by-doing focus, our employees now achieve competence more quickly, serve our customers more effectively and compassionately, and are better prepared for advancement opportunities."

Using its advanced training model, Farmers has reduced the new-hire training period from three months to two, and the on-campus component of that process from three weeks to two. Claims representatives' file quality and customer satisfaction scores have increased steadily year over year. The immersive training fully prepares employees for both required certification processes and promotional opportunities.

"As a leader in SOA and BPM, we are committed to developing skills in these critical areas. We are seeing exponential growth in the serious games market. These games are being used to introduce new skills, evaluate business performance and develop leadership capabilities," said Sandy Carter, vice president of SOA, BPM and WebSphere at IBM. "The UofF, Claims, is at the forefront of developing a highly-effective training model within a compelling game format leveraging Innov8 2.0."

Based on the success of the original version of Innov8 and its widespread adoption at university business schools worldwide, the new version of the game has been re-designed for corporate environments, including new scenarios and a global collaboration feature with virtual teammates.

Innov8 2.0 Online is freely available today on www.ibm.com/innov8 for download by IBM business partners and customers. The new version of the game now features competitive scoring, three new scenarios and an interactive game add-on based on more than 8,000 real-world customer solutions.

First introduced in November 2007, the original version of Innov8 is being used as a teaching tool delivered in a one-hour session to supplement courses such as Business Process Management, Corporate Strategies, Operations and IT management. More than 1,000 universities, including USC, Manchester School of Business (United Kingdom) and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh are using Innov8.

Farmers Insurance Exchange is part of Zurich Financial Services, an insurance-based financial services provider with a global network of subsidiaries and offices in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America and other markets. Farmers® is the third-largest personal lines property and casualty insurance group in America.

For more information about Innov8 2.0, visit www.ibm.com/innov8

Contact(s) information

Rebecca Mettler
IBM Media Relations
760-946-2760
703-867-7897

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