Beyond The "Alpha Split": New Ways To Distribute Work Loads


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by Raymond Keating

Check out these alternatives to the traditional “alpha split” of Commercial Lines service.

A customer's name shouldn't matter when they're calling for assistance!

Most CSRs have an assigned section of the alphabet for which they are responsible. This method of work distribution began years ago when: (1) Companies started offering “packaged policies” that combined Property with Casualty; and (2) agencies could no longer afford to have internal service “specialists,” for individual coverages such as Auto, Bonds, and Workers Comp. CSRs got better at cross-training and coverage knowledge, and today can do it all.

Many agencies distribute work using an alphabetical split. This seems logical and fair, but given the ever-increasing use of automation for customer database management, the alpha split might soon become a thing of the past. Automated records at the client and policy levels contain identifiers from the company branch to the producer, to the key contact or file handler. The person responsible for each client or each type of transaction is (or can be) displayed on a computer screen for efficient routing of incoming transactions.


There are several successful methods for workload distribution; no single way will work for every agency. If the alpha split is working and there’s no need to rearrange letters of the alphabet continually — just keep up the good work. If you’re tired of re-counting files and rearranging workloads by alphabet split, choose one of these systems:

Transaction Type

Take into account the personalities and talents of different individuals. If someone in your agency enjoys putting together new accounts, let them do so. Encourage those who are intrigued by the “mechanics” of data to do as much computer work as they’d like. Still others love to talk — they’re great with customers and should be the first on the phone. To maintain an impartial distribution of time and talent automation systems can monitor workloads by transaction.

Won’t clients get upset when they have to talk to so many different people? Not if each contact employee treats each client with a sincerely helpful attitude. The team approach to customer service can only make the customer feel great!

Demographic Profile

Where people live, work, and play might dictate how they’ll be serviced best by a particular customer service rep in your agency. A database should allow your service manage to run this sort of profile and find a matching service person within the office.

Account Size

Many agencies determine Commercial Lines work distribution by size of account. Personal Lines Work can also be distributed based on premium or commission income per account. More and more agencies are combining the small (less than $10,000 premium) Commercial accounts with the larger ($4,000 to $10,000 premium) Personal accounts. Accounts can then be split into two, three, four, or more servicing divisions based on the premium or commission they pay the agency.


If fairness is a major issue in an agency, each new account can be assigned to a different CSR until each has had one, then begin again. With this method of work distribution, the receptionist should have access to the customer database. Upon answering an incoming call, the receptionist can quickly enter the system to establish who has the primary responsibility for customer service with the caller.

Account Development Objectives

The CSRs with the best selling skills can be assigned all new and existing single policyholders. Their objectives are to help the client “graduate” to the next CSR. This position can act as a development or sales center. Upon writing the second or third line of business, the developer assigns the account to the appropriate CSR for maintenance.


Analyze your past and present systems of work distribution, discuss the service image the agency should project, then rearrange account management in the most effective and equitable manner. Does a customer’s last name really matter when they’re calling for assistance?

Adapted from an article by Raymond Keating, CIC, ACCS, Inc.

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