“A backstop for our business”: How Avenue helps Fair Square Medicare retain 94% of customers
“Our engineers can get notified about IT incidents. Why don’t we have something like that for the rest of the business?”
Daniel Petkevich, CEO and Founder of Fair Square Medicare, was chatting with his colleague, Lorenzo Carlisle, when he learned about the operational challenges Lorenzo faces every day. As Fair Square’s Business Operations Lead, Lorenzo has no shortage of domains he manages, from compliance to finops to revops. He needs to know what’s going on around the business at all times.
Fair Square is a healthcare brokerage firm that helps newly retired people decide on the right Medicare plan for them. The company’s agents speak on the phone with new retirees about their health needs and budgets in order to recommend a Medicare plan.
The problem: dashboard sweeps fall short
At Fair Square Medicare, answering inbound phone calls from newly retired people keeps the business growing. Agents at Fair Square Medicare are trained to conduct consultations over two separate conversations: once to learn about the prospects’ medical history, budgets, and needs, and again to enroll them in a plan if the right fit is found. But agents sometimes fail to make the second call or miss inbound calls.
Lorenzo relied on “dashboard sweeps” — regularly scanning Metabase, the company’s BI (business intelligence) tool, to detect missed calls. However, this was not a winning strategy: problems were only spotted after the fact, not when they happened (i.e., when a call was missed). This led to breached SLAs, unhappy customers, and lost opportunities for Fair Square.
The solution: proactively preventing SLA breaches and acting quickly when they occur
Based on the comment from Dan, his CEO, Lorenzo started to look for an ops observability and alerting tool that could surface issues when they happened and immediately alert the team so they could take action.
His search was bolstered by Fair Square’s new general manager, Doug, whose main priority was to establish a solid sales process that the company’s agents would adhere to. That’s when Lorenzo heard about Avenue through a friend.
“The difference has been night and day,” Lorenzo says.
Avenue gives Lorenzo and the management team at Fair Square Medicare a level of insight into the business that dashboard sweeps had failed to offer before.
Data from a slew of systems, including Aircall (the company’s phone calling software) and manual spreadsheet-based models, goes into Fair Square’s Snowflake database. Using some SQL-based monitors Lorenzo and his team set up, Avenue monitors the Snowflake database for certain events, such as:
SLA breaches: if a lead comes in but isn’t called in a certain amount of time
Dips in sales productivity: Lower-than-average call time or volume per agent
Missed follow-ups: No follow-up call scheduled within a particular period of time
When these kinds of events are detected, Avenue sends alerts to agents and surfaces this information to team leads at Fair Square. Team leads get roll-up summary reports every Friday so they can quickly understand when incidents occurred and which agents were involved. These reports help the leads regularly audit agents’ performance.
“We want to know when someone doesn’t schedule that follow-up appointment, but we also don’t want to be receiving 10,000 Slack messages a day. That’s why these reports are valuable to us.” –Lorenzo Carlisle, Business Ops Lead
The outcome: higher conversion to paying customers
With Avenue’s help, Fair Square Medicare has much greater insight into how agents are doing. “Agents’ activity might be down due to an innocuous reason, like some of them being out of the office, or because they aren’t adhering to processes,” Lorenzo notes. “Knowing the root cause is vital for how we run our business.”
With Avenue, Lorenzo is more confident about the performance of the sales team now than ever before. In fact, 94% of Fair Square’s clients stay year over year. “Avenue is the backstop for our brokerage operations,” he says. “With Avenue in place, it’s really hard for there to be an operational fire that we don’t know about.”
Before Avenue, Lorenzo notes, many of Fair Square Medicare’s operations relied on manual or opportunistic workflows. “Avenue has completely replaced observational luck — for instance, someone just happening to spot an issue — and obliviated the need for dashboard sweeps.”
Enforcing better adherence to process isn’t the only use case Lorenzo has found for Avenue. In order to keep a better eye on key business metrics, he’s built some complex business definition logic on top of Fair Square’s databases using SQL. “The SQL was complex — it involved a lot of joins and conditional logic, raw data, and duplicate data,” Lorenzo notes. He cleverly created a few monitors in Avenue for data transformation health checks, so whenever the logic Lorenzo built transforms data, Avenue can alert him if something goes awry.
What’s next: future growth
Even with 11 monitors set up in Avenue and 28 users on the platform, Fair Square Medicare is just getting started. Lorenzo says he’s really excited about what’s to come. “Our usage of Avenue will get stronger and better the more thought and energy we put into it,” he notes.
In particular, there are two ways Fair Square Medicare plans to use Avenue’s capabilities:
Improving client retention: Client retention is a big deal for Fair Square Medicare, since the company gets a commission on a yearly basis from the insurance broker it directs a client to. Right now, to know the status of a client’s enrollment in a plan, Fair Square Medicare has to manually ingest and examine a carrier’s book of business — a quarterly task that’s challenging and time-consuming. “It’ll be awesome to build an ingestion pipeline and have an Avenue monitor running to automatically alert us to changes in that book of business,” Lorenzo says.
Compliance to SOPs: Once sales managers figure out how to best make use of the alerts that come off Avenue’s monitors, Lorenzo plans to design and implement Playbooks. This way, agents who miss a call can be assigned a prescribed set of next steps, and managers can track progress within Avenue or Slack.
As Fair Square Medicare expands its use of Avenue, Lorenzo is eager to continue working with the team. “Beyond the tool itself, the Avenue team has been a big part of our success,” he says. “We’ve had a great experience with onboarding and having our questions answered timely. Unlike most companies, you guys actually seem to care.”
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