6 Ways Remote Sales Agents Make the Difference
While brick-and-mortar call centers may remain the industry standard for years to come, more and more insurance carriers and their partners are using virtual sales agents. Clearlink partners with a number of insurance carriers, agencies, brokers, and we have agents working both in our brick-and-mortar call centers and remotely. As a result, we’re uniquely qualified to evaluate the benefits of virtual sales agents compared to those working in house.
As the platforms for enabling virtual work evolve, the viability of a remote sales force is increasing. Here are six reasons we believe virtual sales agents are the future for the insurance industry.
1. Bigger, better talent pool
When agents can work from home, their proximity to the brick-and-mortar call center is no longer an issue. Recruiting nationally rather than locally increases the available talent pool—and with a bigger pool of applicants, you can make better choices. At Clearlink, we recently received more than 6,000 applicants for open remote positions. Compare that to the 600 applicants we received for a similar in-house position, and you can see the potential for finding top talent grows exponentially.
With remote employees working from home, it’s easier to scale your workforce up and down depending on need, both during the average week and over seasons
When the top of your hiring funnel is larger, you can find the most qualified applicants. For example, we use the Berke Assessment test as a first screening for applicants. Due to the expanded applicant pool, we are able to move only the highest scorers, those with the most potential to succeed on our team, to the next phase of the hiring process. When you hire the right person in the first place, everything else, from training to retention, tends to run more smoothly.
With remote employees working from home, it’s easier to scale your workforce up and down depending on need, both during the average week and over seasons. For example, it can be easier to hire seasonal workers for your busy seasons if they are given the opportunity to work remotely. Similarly, we’ve found that agents who work from home are more likely to take on extra shifts because they don’t need to deal with the added time and inconvenience of a drive to an office. Our virtual agents are also more willing to take a half day when calls are slow because they are already at home. Using virtual agents allows for a more flexible workforce than a brick-and-mortar call center.
3. Fewer distractions
There is a misconception that people who work in the home are more distracted than those in a dedicated office. In our experience, however, that’s not the case. Our virtual agents are, on average, more productive than our in-house agents. They take shorter breaks and are less likely to be late or take time off. From the noise of other workers to break room conversations that drag on a little longer than necessary, a call center provides more distractions and potential opportunities for time away from the desk than a dedicated home office. In our experience, virtual sales agents working from home are available to take calls a higher percentage of the time than those who work in our call centers. Snowstorms and other weather issues won’t keep employees from getting to work, as they can simply sit down at the computer and log in.
4. Better customer experience
Insurance products differ by state in a number of ways—most importantly, rates and requirements. Using remote sales agents allows you to hire local experts in multiple areas, rather than trying to teach people who live in one area how to become experts about another. A sales agent located in Indiana knows a lot more about what an Indiana customer needs than someone in a call center in Utah. This shared knowledge and easier rapport with customers means more efficient calls and a better overall customer experience.
5. More digital collaboration
Our virtual platform records communication between the agent and customer as well as chats between agents, and when multiple agents are experiencing a certain issue, that issue is captured and can be easily addressed to improve performance moving forward. This digital collaboration greatly enhances agents’ efficiency. Digital collaboration also allows effective real-time help from managers, who can monitor customer-agent conversations and jump in with quick coaching.
6. Higher employee satisfaction
Among our workforce, virtual agents report higher job satisfaction than those working in our call centers. People who apply as work-from-home agents have self-selected. They know they like working from home and seek opportunities that allow them to be in the environment most comfortable to them. When they get those opportunities, with the added benefits of a solid company culture that’s well-communicated remotely, they love their jobs. And when they love their jobs, they tend to perform better.
From a more qualified talent pool to more satisfied employees who perform better, the advantages to using virtual sales agents working remotely are clear. Platforms allowing for more seamless integration over long distances will only improve as time goes on; meaning that getting a remote sales force up and running will continue to get easier. Before you break ground on that new call center, consider these advantages. Perhaps a virtual sales force is the solution for you.