If you are an insurance agent looking for a new or improved phone system, there are some feature requirements you should demand before choosing a provider.
In this guide we will state the phone service requirements you need in order to enhance productivity from your agents and to ensure customers receive a consistent message and service excellence.
Hosted Phone Systems
Before we look at some of the requirements for your phone system, first a quick note on the type of system we recommend. The days of owning and maintaining your own phone system are in the past, we are pleased to say. Insurance agencies are moving to the cloud for many of their services and the phone is one such service that has migrated to off-premise hardware and software.
Hosted phone systems are maintained by VoIP companies in data centers and all you need at your agency are phones and a high speed Internet connection. To configure your service and add or remove phone lines, simply log on to a secure portal using a Web browser and edit accordingly. It is simple!
There are thousands of cloud based phone companies looking for your business but you can narrow the selection process down by requiring the following features for your phone service. These features will maximize productivity and help ensure customer satisfaction.
1. CRM Integration
Most likely your agency uses a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, such as eAgent, to manage the relationships with your customers. This stores information about them, their policies, their preferences and even birthdays.
When your phone system integrates with your CRM it can be very powerful. For example, if a customer calls you and you have a hosted VoIP phone system with CRM integration, it can display the customer's details on your computer at the same time. This can show their insurance policy, any special notes about the customer and historical details which may relate to the reason for the call. All of this helps maximize the chances of a successful phone call with your customer. The call will also be logged in the CRM and you can add notes to help you in the future.
Click-to-call capabilities often exist as part of the CRM integration. If you need to contact a customer, bring up their details and simply click on the phone number to call them. Often, the way this works, is it will call them and your desk phone at the same time or if you have a soft-phone on your computer, it could connect them to your PC.
2. Real Time Call Statistics
The ability to track real-time Call Detail Records (CDRs) can be very useful to an agency, in particular for the owner or manager. This can help track how many inbound and outbound calls were made by each agent and call duration so you can get a feel for how productive each agent is. This can be tracked across days, weeks and years and because the call stats are viewed from a web portal you can access this from anywhere in the world. There is no requirement for you to actually be in the office.
If like most businesses these days you spend time working from your office, your home or on the road, phone service mobility is very important.
Many hosted systems also offer Apps for smartphones which essentially turn your smartphone into a business extension and access to all of the features you would have on a desk phone. Also, because it is an application running on your phone, it can actually just reside on your personal phone, there is no need to carry two smartphones. Making calls from the app ensures you are using your business Caller ID rather than your own personal phone number.
4. Call Monitoring and Recording for Training
Training new agents is vital to the success of your insurance agency. A VoIP system includes many features that help in the training process for new hires. For example, here are a few of the many ways you can get new agents up and running quickly:
- Call Recording: Record the calls made to and from new agents and review them to provide constructive feedback. This is a great way to train your staff in the way you expect your agency to run from a customer service experience.
- Call Monitoring: Also referred to as eavesdropping, this feature lets you listen in to a call between an agent and a customer so you can monitor their etiquette and provide feedback after the call. Your microphone is muted by default so nobody knows you are listening. Some systems take this a step further and let you eavesdrop but also give whispering capability. The customer cannot hear what you are saying, only the agent. While this sounds good in practice, it may be difficult for the agent to relax and feel comfortable on the phone if he or she is aware of this feature.
- Instant Messaging: Many phone systems also integrate Instant Messaging (IM) capabilities, also known as Chat. This can be very useful for new agents as it gives them the ability to IM with other agents or senior staff in real-time during a call. If a customer asks a difficult question, it is great to know you have resources behind you should you need help.
5. Portability and Scalability
Portability and scalability are probably two of the biggest advantages of a VoIP based system, outside of cost savings and features. In the old days we used to have to call a Telecommunications company to come out and wire dedicated circuits for new phones in an office and the telephone numbers were tied to that line.
VoIP is all Internet based so you can move the phones anywhere in the country, never mind the office. It is highly portable since we live in such an Internet connected world now. If you need to add a phone, it can be done in minutes by requesting a new extension from the provider. Connect the phone to the Internet, add power and it will connect to the data center, configure itself and be ready to make and receive calls.
Furthermore, if your insurance agency has multiple offices, VoIP bridges the offices using the Internet. All internal calls are made using the Internet, which is one reason why VoIP is such a great way to reduce your phone bills. Need to call an agent on the other side of the state or even the country, just dial his or her extension. There is no need to call a long distance number and go through auto attendants to reach the person.
Earlier I mentioned call metrics and how useful they can be for analyzing agents productivity. For large insurance companies distributed across the country, these same metrics can be analyzed from a nationwide standpoint since the entire phone system is in the cloud and connected.
If you are an insurance agency, choosing a new phone system can be a challenge. In this article we explained, in our opinion, why a hosted VoIP service is the right system for agencies and we listed several requirements for such a phone system. By choosing a system that meets these requirements you are maximizing the chances of excelling in customer service and ensuring your agents all deliver a consistent message to your customers.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to contact us using the form below. We always respond promptly.