Insurance Agency Call Center

Insurance may be moving to digital, but that doesn't invalidate the need for personal contact. The insurance agency call center still takes a core role in successful communications strategy.

Insurance Agency Call Center

As with any industry, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way insurance agencies operate. We’ve seen a clear move towards digital operations and robotic process automation, but insurance agency call centers still remain a crucial part of the equation.

Digital trends are undoubtedly on the rise. The term “digital insurance” has proliferated in this industry for a reason, leading to trends from predictive analytics to AI-powered chatbots. As insurance providers look to accelerate their growth post-pandemic, digital transformation becomes a core part of the equation.

That doesn’t mean traditional operations and communications have become irrelevant. There is still room for customers to talk to real-life people. The best insurers in 2022 and beyond will be able to combine the two, creating a more holistic strategy to approach and work with their customers.

The Reasons Behind the Rising Importance of Digital Insurance

The drive towards digital transformation in the insurance industry was perhaps inevitable. Rising costs, a dwindling talent base, and difficulty recruiting have been issues in this space for years. Add a massive rethinking of business models, and you begin to understand why many insurers are abandoning human customer service models.

In a 2021 report on the top issues within the insurance industry, consulting firm PwC honed in on the rising pace of changes in this space, which has traditionally lagged behind others in digital transformation:

Brokers and agents derive their value from staying close to their customers. So, as expectations rise, producers are listening and they’re quickly adding tools and establishing new relationships to support those expectations… Conditions are ripe for the financial services version of a product “going viral,” tipping the scale and changing the pace of change. 

The specific tools referred to here can, of course, range widely. Quick quotes and enrollments, automated alerts and payment processing, and even automated custom policies based on applicant responses have all led to faster response times, designed to improve customer satisfaction in the digital age.

Another survey from PwC confirmed that trend. Held in 2020, it found that 41% of consumers are inclined to switch insurance carriers if their current provider doesn’t have enough digital capabilities. Apps to manage and pay policies are especially important for consumers looking to find their way around in the digital space.

At the same time, market demand would mean little if the opportunity cost of moving digital wasn’t also moving in the right direction. As CIO outlines, the increasing availability of digital platforms and processes like artificial intelligence and robotic process automation have built an environment ripe to support that move as well.

In other words, customer demands are combining with increasing availability of digital platforms. The result is a faster pace of digital transformation in the insurance industry in the past two years than anyone has observed even over the previous decade. And yet, it’s dangerous to use those trends to draw the conclusion that, going forward, digital is the only thing that matters in insurance.

Undoubtedly, digital processes, AI, and RPA all have built an important place in the insurance industry for themselves. But there are, and will always be, limits to that approach, starting with the continued need for interpersonal communications.

The Continued Need for Interpersonal Communications

In the drastic rise of digital solutions, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of the human touch. And yet, the need for that human touch will always be there.

That need remains true across demographics. While the insurance fields may largely target older demographics, younger audiences (like first-time car or home buyers) are becoming increasingly relevant. And even though we might associate younger demographics among Millennials and Gen Z with a higher need and preference for technologies, research tells us otherwise.

Millennials, it turns out, have higher expectations when it comes to customer service, and would prefer to talk to a human over a computer. Similar surveys have found similar trends among Gen Z.

That’s especially the case with more complex scenarios that technology cannot easily predict. Most applicants are likely fine getting an automated insurance quote online. But if their situation or background is more complicated than the five qualifying questions leading to that quote, a human interaction will be significantly more helpful.

And that doesn’t even consider the need for interaction of current insurance policyholders. We’ve all experienced the frustration of an automated system that simply cannot account for our personal situations, whether it be submitting a claim or dealing with an unexpected situation. No machine is good enough to account for all of the variables that lead to true help in that scenario.

The conclusion is clear: the need for interpersonal communication will not go away anytime soon. Especially in an industry as personal as insurance, creating an environment in which your audience feels like a close partner becomes vital when competing against other providers.

Unfortunately, that need also seems, at least at first glance, to contradict the seemingly inevitable insurance trend towards capitalization. The increasing needs, better availability, and lower cost of digital solutions are well-established. Let’s dig into how modern insurance agency call centers can solve that contradiction and accomplish both sides of the equation.

The Opportunity to Bridge the Gap Between Digital and Personal

Let’s summarize: digital transformation in insurance is on the rise, but cannot account for interpersonal communications needs. At the same time, interpersonal communication cannot accomplish some of the tasks that automation was designed to do. How can both of these statements be reconciled?

The answer is surprisingly simple: it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. In fact, the best insurance agencies can combine digital advances with the continued need for human interactions.

As Gary Shaw, U.S. insurance lead for insurance at research and consulting firm Deloitte puts it, in his industry insight article titled, 2020 Insurance Agency Outlook:

Insurers are increasingly dependent on emerging technologies and data sources to drive efficiency, enhance cybersecurity, and expand capabilities across the organization. However, most should also focus on improving the customer experience by both streamlining processes with automation as well as providing customized service where needed and preferred.

The answer, in other words, is a more hybrid environment that successfully marries both digital opportunities and human interactions.

In this approach, the human touch takes over when automation has reached its limit. Digital transformation concepts, including AI, can build more accurate processes and leverage analytics to detect subtle, money-saving trends. But when needed, people jump in to be the first and most important point of contact for audiences.

This hybrid approach also solves another of the trends identified in that 2021 PwC report: the fact that achieving complete scale in a fully digital environment is almost impossible.

Efficiency, the PwC report argues, is a core part of modern insurance management. At the same time, it cannot be the only driver. Only a strategy that builds a successful marriage between digital efficiencies and human interactions can successfully counter the modern environment and customer expectations.

How the Modern Insurance Agency Call Center Can Bridge the Digital and Human Gap

So much for the why of building a hybrid, digital and human environment for insurance management. Let’s start to dig into the how of accomplishing that feat.

This is where a modern insurance agency call center enters the equation. When set up correctly, this type of operation can help to provide the essential live voice that customers look for during certain interactions. Those interactions become especially important during the last mile of the pipeline, manifesting in a few core areas: policy binding and onboarding, claims handling, crisis management, and personalized marketing campaigns.

The Call Center’s Role in Policy Binding and Insurance Onboarding

No matter the research, the first moments after an insurance policy officially takes hold can be stressful for many customers. They might have questions about how to handle claims, when coverage takes effect (and when it doesn’t), and how to manage their premium payments.

A lot of pieces tend to be involved when binding the policy. Trained correctly, call center agents can help in that process, first by learning the required procedures and then by helping new policyholders come on board. As a result, they ease the process for everyone involved and maximize customer satisfaction.

The Call Center’s Role in Handling Insurance Claims

The insurance industry tends to get a bad rap. Especially consumers don’t tend to trust their providers to reliably fulfill a claim, instead assuming that the provider will do what they can to get away with a minimum payment. Completely digitized claims systems that are difficult to navigate don’t help with that trust level.

This is another area where personal interactions can change the perception entirely. When properly trained, insurance call center agents can take over the handling of these claims, walking policyholders through the required process to submit them and partnering with them in the process.

The Call Center’s Role in Crisis Management

A distributed call center can also be vital in helping insurance agencies manage crises, either in the larger environment or among their customers. The move to digital during the COVID-19 pandemic, caused countless businesses to shut down or close temporarily. Most simply weren’t prepared for the onslaught of new customer expectations.

Of course, that might be an extreme example. But similar examples can occur in almost every type of insurance field. If a heavy storm strikes, is your home insurance prepared for the number of questions and claims it will receive? A dedicated call center allows you to distribute those needs, and helps policyholders by offering a helping hand through the crisis.

The Call Center’s Role in Personalized Marketing Campaigns

Finally, don’t underestimate the continued importance of personalized marketing, even in an increasingly digital field. We know that audiences across all demographics are looking for more customized messaging than ever before. A simple, broad digital campaign may just not be enough to reach and exceed audience expectations, or help your insurance agency stand out.

Call centers help through outbound recruitment and retention marketing campaigns. Defined call scripts help in the effort to reach out to potential and current policyholders with talking points specific to them. The same process can also be applied to transactional and administrative follow-ups. In each case, the ability to reach out personally and through dedicated staff surpasses the ability of digital platforms to build a strong and lasting connection with your audience.

Leverage the Insurance Agency Call Center of the Future Through Millennial Services

Technology is becoming an inevitable, and increasingly central part in modern insurance management. But that doesn’t mean it has to push out more traditional means of communication, especially when those means focus on the human touch.

At the end of the day, your customers and policyholders want to feel well taken care of. They want to know that they will have the help of professionals. That’s especially true in bottom-funnel interactions, where specific situations and scenarios call for customized responses that can’t be scripted through AI or RPA.

In those scenarios, the comfort and expertise of a dedicated call center staff becomes irreplaceable. What you need to find, then, is a partner who can help you design the right mix of technology and human touch to succeed sustainably.

That’s where Millennial Services enters the equation. Our comprehensive digital expertise combined with dedicated insurance staff takes this exact approach. It allows us to work with any agency in order to design the right “cocktail” of both automated solutions and a staff of trained professionals. That combination is what helps our call center solution take your insurance agency into the future.

At the end of the day, digital might be rising fast, and become the driving trend of the insurance agency. But customers will always need to know that they can have dedicated, human professionals on their side to help them. Contact Millennial Services to learn more about our customer experience call centers, and how they can help you build that sustainable mix.