Telephonic sales channels are growing rapidly in the insurance space. More consumers prefer to communicate over the phone rather than in-person when buying insurance. Whether you have an existing call center or you are considering creating a new sales arm, the decision for that channel to be in-house or outsourced can be difficult. Consider the following factors to decide which makes more sense for your business.
In-house: Increased control over training and quality
When you operate a call center in-house, you have the highest control over training and decision-making. While in-house call centers require heavier initial investment, you may see higher conversion rates from stronger customer satisfaction and increased employee retention. When agents work directly for the company, they tend to feel more loyalty and buy-in toward the brand they are representing, leading to more positive customer interaction. From a management perspective, you are able to develop a positive culture within the call center and make relationships a priority.
In-house call centers tend to allow more open lines of communication. Managers can quickly alert agents of process changes or product updates. When a caller has a unique concern, the agent may be able to resolve that concern more effectively by having direct access to decision makers in the company.
Depending on your market, you may find that customers have an affinity toward an agent with the same accent. For example, if you sell to a southern region of the United States, customers may prefer hearing someone with a southern dialect. From past experience working for a Texas health plan, consumers loved talking to their “neighbor” on the other end of the phone. The familiarity of voice can help a customer relationship develop faster.
Overall, in-house call centers allow for immediacy of training, direct lines of communication, and more control over the call center’s culture.
Outsourcing: Leveraging the experience of others
When you outsource to a third-party call center, you avoid the high upfront costs of the hardware, telephony, servers, and desktop applications required. You also avoid leasing or purchasing space for your call center. Outsourcing allows you to take advantage of someone else’s resources with the confidence that their operations are tested and reliable.
While you may be paying a premium, third-party call centers take care of all the staffing and administrative functions involved. When you outsource, you hand off responsibility over hiring, training, and scheduling, allowing you to bypass additional human resources and payroll obligations.
You can also benefit from the experience and scalability of an existing call center. Since a third-party would have seasoned customer service agents, that collective experience can produce more reliable, consistent customer experiences. Third-party call centers can typically scale to demand and balance seasonality issues to keep experienced agents busy year-round. They are also held to contractual service-level agreements and uptime. The pressure lies on the call center to manage response times and keep phone lines operating.
Outsourcing can be a smart option for agencies who don’t have the space, capacity, or funds to bring all of that capability in-house. If your staff doesn’t have any prior experience with call centers, outsourcing can leverage the experiences of others and provide a smoother transition.
More factors to consider
Where can you find more information on the pros and cons of call centers? See our recent white paper on what to consider when starting a call center. We share industry tips and best practices to make your decision and transition as informed and successful as possible.