Insurance companies can do all the right things when it comes to serving the needs of the public and still fail. What do I mean? For example, you can provide your customer service representatives (CSRs) with an amazing office space and work-from-home options and sell an insurance product that keeps winning industry awards for innovation. But if your CSRs are not meeting the needs of the customers they serve in today’s highly competitive insurance industry, then you may be on your way to failing.

There are several hot trends that insurance industry sales leaders are watching closely right now, especially leaders in charge of training their company’s call center agents.

These trends are technology and workforce related, and follow a successful path already forged by retail and other consumer-facing industries. Insurers and their sales leaders are embracing third-party tech advancements to help their CSRs become both proficient and efficient in talking through policy packages and other needs with clients. Equipping CSRs with the appropriate skills can help attract and build trusted relationships — the kind of customer experience engagement that is needed for growing and sustaining the profitability of your organization for years to come.

What are the trends that are showing the most promise in improving CSR performance?

Trend 1: Taking Advantage of Recent Technical Advancements

Insurers that are using leading-edge tech are growing the fastest. Insurance isn’t one of those industries that typically wows the general population with what they’re doing, but recent tech advancements in customer care are getting the attention of insurance industry leaders. New capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI), big data, application programming interfaces and digitalization are changing how CSRs interact with customers. Insurers are starting to not only implement this tech advantage, but they are also training their teams to become efficient at using it. Results show a reduction in policy recommendation time, an increase in CSR productivity and a streamlined system of engagement that saves time, resources and budget.

Trend 2: Burnout and Mental Health

Demanding goals and work-induced stress — with little support from management — are part of the reason our industry continues to suffer increased burnout and quit rates. Contact centers have some of the highest turnover rates in the country, ranging between 30-45%, more than double the average for all other roles. Insurance companies know they’re vulnerable. Their products are complex, and the skills needed to sell them require access to personalized customer data and the ability to respond quickly to customer needs.

Training managers must advocate on behalf of their CSRs. This can be as simple as being approachable to CRSs and ready to listen to their concerns. It might look like advocating that employees take paid time off (PTO) or a reminder that they can bring their pets to the office. The key is to make sure that CSRs don´t feel like they’re going at this alone. When you take the time to onboard skilled CSRs, it’s important to clear the way for them to be successful. In other words, if it is within your purview to arm your CSRs with tools and training, do it. Otherwise, your company may become an unfortunate, preventable statistic.

Taking a Deeper Look

Call center agents don’t just educate prospects and customers, they interpret and enforce policies and communicate the brand’s value. They truly are the public face of the company. If the burnout and churn rates are high, losses in the business can start to add up quickly. Below are some quick industry-agnostic facts:

  • It can cost six to nine months of a CSRs salary to recruit, onboard and train them.
  • It can take up to six months for a CSR to provide optimal customer service.
  • Based on these numbers, it might cost a company replacing 30% of its 200-person CSR team $1,172,100 to $1,758,150 every year—on top of the $2,344,200 wage bill. And these numbers are likely higher for the insurance industry.

How To Minimize the Impact of Your CSR and Agent Churn

Modernize Your Call Center and CSR Experience

Again, invest in modern technology and pay close attention to what your employees are experiencing. Today we’re seeing that a good part of agents and CSRs are coming from Gen Z and younger generations. This means their day-to-day experience has been transformed digitally. They use their smartphones to book an Uber, sell items on Facebook Marketplace, watch Netflix and buy something next-day-delivery from Amazon. For them, spending eight hours a day using sub-par technology for their job can quickly lead to frustration, which means a less-inspired agent helping your customers. Their ability to quickly access real-time guidance and provide personalized product recommendations to your customers can transform the entire experience — if they’re using the right tech tools.

Simplify the Onboarding and Ongoing Training Experience

Insurers today are looking for ways to accelerate each advisor’s learning curve and invest in their skill sets. Whether the CSR is new or an experienced advisor on a new training path, the old way isn’t always the best. Take the time to review training manuals and policy procedures that may no longer serve your CSRs or the customer. Be willing to simplify and clarify them or remove them altogether. Don’t be afraid to ask your CSRs what they would personally do in a given situation and how they believe processes could be improved. Not every idea needs to come from the top.

Conclusion

Insurance companies can get ahead of the pack by focusing on listening to, honoring and equipping sales agents and CSRs. Don’t become a high turnover cost center. Take advantage of sustainable and operational changes that improve the training and work experience of your valued CSR teams. Open the door to innovative and smart technology adoptions that will set your CSRs and company apart from the pack.

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