Reasons for a commercial insurance agent to use virtual agents. Use technology to serve clients better and save money?
Sitting here this morning, iced in by this huge storm, I’m thinking of all the insurance agents out there who really need their office staff. What about their clients who may truly need their agents today in order to report an accident they’ve had out there on the ice?
But what is happening? The client calls in and gets a recorded message “We’re closed due to inclement weather. Please leave a message and we’ll call back as soon as possible.”
This type of message doesn’t instill faith and confidence in a client. It adds more stress to their already difficult situation.
So why don’t insurance agents hire virtual agents/assistants to work from home?
Why do so many large companies that operate call centers still maintain one large centralized call center?
There is a very large pool of qualified and experienced insurance agents who have fully equipped offices in their homes. These people, if appropriately licensed, can answer client calls, take claim reports, make changes to a client’s policy, conduct renewal marketing steps, prepare proposals, and the myriad other steps needed in commercial property and casualty insurance. They can do this all from a remote location with access to the agency programs via appropriate computer links. If they are working in their own local area, they can actually meet with clients when face-to-face meetings are needed, provided of course, they have the experience and skill to conduct such meetings.
What benefit would this be for an agency?
• The typical commercial agency has very few clients who actually visit their office. Therefore, by utilizing remote agents and assistants, the agency can maintain a much smaller office space, saving money from the bottom line immediately.
• The agency would only need to provide the necessary server space, programs, and phone system required for the agent to work remotely. The need for desks, chairs, computers, scanners, and printers for every assistant would be gone – those would be provided by the remote agent. Run your business on somebody else's money? What business owner doesn't understand that?
• By utilizing only the most experienced agents to work remotely and doing some due diligence for monitoring the work of these agents, the agent can save considerable money on benefits as well as providing their clients with excellent customer service.
• If an agent provides service to individuals rather than to businesses, perhaps the remote agents could rotate days in the office to be present there for the personal insurance clients.
So one must ask, why isn’t every agency or brokerage doing this?
The answer to that question is out there, somewhere….
The few insurance agencies and brokers that do already utilize remote agents and service people are delighted with it. All the fears they had that the employees wouldn’t be working enough, wouldn’t do a good job, wouldn’t be available to their clients readily, etc. have been put to rest. Those agencies and brokers are shaking their heads wondering why others don’t do the same and why they themselves didn’t begin sooner.
For those who are concerned about the earth’s environment, this is the ultimate solution. People who leave their home to go to an office every day are using these resources to do so:
• Auto and gasoline
• Require good roads
• Require professional office clothing
• Leave their home with all utilities still operating, still consuming fuel
• Don’t utilize the assets of their home office they have invested in
• Spend more of their money on take-out meals for lunch and for dinner
• Waste an hour or more of time commuting to and from the office
If an agent/broker’s office has 10 employees, 25 employees, 100 employees, all the expenses add up to a substantial amount. That’s a large “carbon footprint” that could be reduced so easily.
What if our government offered substantial tax breaks to businesses that utilized remote employees?
I think that’s an idea whose time has come. In reality, it’s time came several years ago but business owners are reluctant to venture into it. Therefore, that tax incentive may be the only way to achieve this change.
But still today, many employees are sitting at home, drinking coffee, watching tv because of the bad weather much of the nation is experiencing. Since many of those employees are salaried, they are getting paid to sit home and do nothing. If they were able to work remotely, their company would never miss a beat due to inclement weather. Why would an employer want to continue doing this when there is such an easy solution?