CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee was recently honored with an award for the top ten nationwide customer relationship management implementation for 2002.

The award given by the Aberdeen Group, Inc., a national computer and communications research firm, recognizes BlueCross’ information upgrades to its customer call centers.

The upgrades center on new technology known as computer telephony integration (CTI). CTI is a collection of software applications that combine the personal computer with the telephone.

"These innovations have helped us advance the level of service we provide to our customers," said Bob Worthington, senior vice president of business operations for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. “The seamless integration of these new technologies in our service areas has allowed us to improve customer service and lower our administrative costs.”

CTI directs members to the person most able to help them as well as frees the customer representative for increased interaction with the caller instead of the computer.

When members call, they are welcomed by an automated system and asked to enter their unique member ID number via the touch pad on their phone. Their calls are then promptly routed by skills-based software to the most appropriate agent who can instantly access pertinent customer information on an easy-to-manage computer pop-up screen.

CTI allows the BlueCross call centers in Chattanooga and Memphis to function as a single, virtual call center able to route calls more effectively and handle an increased volume.

As a result of the new streamlined process, the average call duration has been reduced by approximately 15 percent, saving time and money on thousands of daily routed calls.

According to David Deal, senior vice president and chief financial officer, CTI and other newly implemented technologies such as imaging will help BlueCross save an estimated $3 million annually.

“The simplified labor process of these new technologies help to reduce cost,” Deal said. “We are able to generate these savings while improving the level of integrated service received by our members.”

The improved customer service is reflected in the 2002 BlueCross weighted service index score of 98.75. This score reflects timeliness and accuracy of calls, and telephone accessibility for member contacts.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.