Insurance Customer Service: Five Tips for Serving Older Callers


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As a large por­tion of the baby boomer pop­u­la­tion pre­pares to retire, call cen­ters in the insur­ance indus­try will field more calls from older cus­tomers. To help agents suc­cess­fully serve this base of cus­tomers, they need to learn skills and spe­cific tac­tics to help them suc­ceed. Use the fol­low­ing five tips to coach your employ­ees in how to suc­cess­fully serve older mem­bers when they call about their insurance:

Tip #1: Speak Clearly and Enun­ci­ate

When help­ing older callers, agents may notice that a mem­ber has dif­fi­culty hear­ing and under­stand­ing what the agent says. Employ­ees need to keep in mind that even some­one with per­fect hear­ing can have trou­ble under­stand­ing what the per­son on the other end of the line is say­ing. As insur­ance rep­re­sen­ta­tives han­dle more calls from older cus­tomers, they need to keep the fol­low­ing in mind:

  • Speak louder
  • Speak more slowly
  • Enun­ci­ate the end­ings of words (s, ing, d, etc.)

An appro­pri­ate vol­ume may dif­fer from cus­tomer to cus­tomer. Let employ­ees know it’s per­fectly appro­pri­ate to ask the caller, “Can you hear me ok?” It’s bet­ter to ask for clar­i­fi­ca­tion than assume the mem­ber under­stands every­thing that’s being said.

Tip #2: Set Expec­ta­tions for the Call

When cus­tomers call an insur­ance com­pany, they need to have account infor­ma­tion and per­sonal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers handy. To help older mem­bers through the process of the call, coach employ­ees to set expec­ta­tions. For exam­ple, at the begin­ning of the call, agents should let the cus­tomer know what infor­ma­tion they will need and what they will be able to accom­plish dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion. If an employee is not autho­rized to han­dle some aspect of the member’s request, he or she needs to inform the mem­ber up front. If mem­bers under­stand what infor­ma­tion they need to have acces­si­ble and what they can expect to get out of the call, agents can reduce con­fu­sion and com­pli­ca­tions. This will both reduce call length and increase mem­ber satisfaction.

Tip #3: Be Patient and Guide the Call

Another dif­fer­ence insur­ance rep­re­sen­ta­tives may find while deal­ing with older callers is their speed at pro­cess­ing infor­ma­tion and respond­ing to ques­tions. Mem­bers may have trou­ble artic­u­lat­ing why they are call­ing or have trou­ble remem­ber­ing where their account infor­ma­tion is stored. If this hap­pens, the agent needs to be patient and empathize. The agent needs to assist mem­bers by ask­ing ques­tions to guide the con­ver­sa­tion and help them process what is being asked of them.

Agents need to be espe­cially cau­tious of assum­ing they know what the caller needs. When a mem­ber is slow to respond or can’t artic­u­late why he or she is call­ing, it’s easy for a rep­re­sen­ta­tive to rush through the call, assum­ing they know how to solve the customer’s prob­lem. This is not the cor­rect approach, because the cus­tomer will call back and end up wast­ing more time than if the agent took time to under­stand the caller’s issue in the first place.

Tip #4: Con­trol the Call

Con­trol­ling the call is an extremely impor­tant skill for serv­ing older insur­ance cus­tomers. While the rep­re­sen­ta­tive needs to be polite and let the client share infor­ma­tion to help them uncover needs, it’s impor­tant to keep mem­bers focused on the rea­son for the call. If callers stray off topic, coach insur­ance rep­re­sen­ta­tives to lis­ten for appro­pri­ate times to cut into the conversation.

Tip #5: Clar­ify Understanding

The final tip is to always clar­ify the agent and the cus­tomer have the same under­stand­ing of what was dis­cussed. For exam­ple, if the agent has just explained a com­plex insur­ance ben­e­fit, the agent should give mem­bers the oppor­tu­nity to clar­ify their under­stand­ing by say­ing some­thing like, “Did I explain that clearly?” or, “That was pretty com­plex. What ques­tions can I answer for you?” This bet­ter serves mem­bers and will elim­i­nate call­backs into the center.

These five tips will help your insur­ance call cen­ter agents address the needs of older mem­bers. If your call cen­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tives need more assis­tance, read this blog post that addresses cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing and ongo­ing learn­ing for con­tin­u­ous improvement.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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