One of the biggest challenges confronting insurance companies is maintaining a high level of customer support from frontline workers in the face of high employee quit rates for contact centers across all industries. A study by Centric Consulting found 83% of contact center workers quit within three years, and 30% within three months."
Additionally a study by McKinsey concluded that customer-facing employee attrition costs companies as much as $10,000 to $20,000 per employee in recruiting and training. For large insurance companies with thousands of support workers – the largest insurers have more than 20,000 customer-facing employees – that adds up fast. Even using the low estimate ($10,000) for contact center attrition costs per worker, an insurer with 20,000 customer support employees and an 83% three-year attrition rate would have to spend roughly $166 million simply to maintain operations. That’s a lot of money to burn in order to essentially run in place.
What’s behind this alarming level of turnover among customer-facing employees at insurance companies? In many cases, these employees quit their jobs because the pay is relatively low. But another critical reason driving attrition is the nature of the job: Being a frontline employee for an insurer is difficult and stressful. That’s because customers with whom these workers are interacting through a contact center are usually under stress themselves. Their homes may have been severely damaged or their vehicles totaled, and they need answers and assistance from their insurers. Now!
Dealing with that kind of pressure (and sometimes abuse) for hours on end without the proper training or on-the-job tools is a recipe for rapid burnout and high customer support turnover.
Thrown In The Deep End
When frontline employees start their jobs, they typically are new to the insurance world. They don't understand the technical aspects of it. They're being trained on different employee practices, products and procedures, and all the while they are expected to demonstrate empathy during live calls. There’s a lot to learn, and that is why training frontline workers takes time and is so expensive.
Boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Similarly, when frontline workers suddenly are confronted with an irate or panicked customer screaming at them over the phone, all that training can instantly fly out the window. At that point, it becomes almost impossible for the frontline employee to meet the customer’s expectations.
Fortunately, technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing and sentiment analysis are available to help customer-facing workers be more effective.
An Intelligent, Insightful Assistant
With an AI-based customer interaction platform, frontline workers talking on the phone to an upset customer will receive prompts for the appropriate responses based on a real-time analysis of what the customer is saying (and how it was said). Helping frontline employees optimize their responses to customers – both in terms of information provided and empathy conveyed – increases the chances of a positive outcome and reduces employee stress.
All Information On A Single Pane Of Glass
Another way a customer experience platform can improve employee performance and job satisfaction is by simplifying their user interfaces. Frontline support workers typically work with multiple systems, which means they may have to open many computer screens simultaneously for a single call. (If you think dealing with an angry customer is difficult, imagine trying to do so toggling between 20 or more screens while being berated.)
Modern contact center platforms can be integrated through middleware with multiple systems to bring together all the relevant data a frontline employee needs to serve a customer onto a single pane of glass. The result is more efficient, less stressful interactions with customers and faster resolution of problems.
More Efficient Management And Training
Supervisors of frontline employees want to help them improve their performance by customizing development tracks and training modules. This typically requires managers to listen to every call to gauge where these workers need to improve. AI can determine whether frontline workers speak too softly or too loudly, their levels of product knowledge, whether they’re conveying the right amount of empathy and other variables that impact effectiveness.
AI also can detect when a customer crosses a line and begins abusing the frontline worker. This enables supervisors to be notified in real time so they can step in and save the employee from further abuse.
The “Great Resignation” has impacted numerous industries in which the majority of positions are customer-facing. For insurance companies, this growing aversion to frontline jobs makes it even more difficult for them to attract, train and retain quality customer support workers. An AI-enabled contact center that provides these employees with tools to do their jobs better and reduce their stress levels is one way to minimize the costs and disruption of constant turnover.
Ilya Filipov is the director of industry strategy for financial services, insurance, at Talkdesk. He may be contacted at [email protected].