Why Does No One Want to Pick up the Phone? Set the Process
Why is it that it seems like no one wants to answer the phone at insurance agencies these days?
“The phone is the reason we exist. It is not something that is an inconvenience, although it might be in the moment, you might be thinking, the last thing I wanna do right now is talk to somebody, it’s part of our process, right?”
You definitely know this scenario: you’re working in your insurance agency, the phone starts ringing, and no one wants to answer it. Everyone feels like they’re too busy, they have too many things on their plate, and everyone thinks that phone call is an interruption that someone else can get to.
If you feel like this describes your agency perfectly, you’re definitely not alone, and it definitely doesn’t just feel this way.
It’s the truth.
In so many agencies, answering the phone is like a game of hot potato. It’s like the phone has radiation coming out of it when it rings, and everyone wants to avoid answering it.
But as we discussed in yesterday’s video, every time the phone rings is a potential opportunity. It’s a customer calling you instead of your competition, and it means that you have the opportunity to really showcase your skills as an insurance agent.
Ultimately, the last thing we want to do is avoid phone calls.
So the best way to address this phone issue? Setting up a process.
The Importance of the Phone
Let’s quickly recap why these phone calls are so important to begin with, even though at the surface, they may seem inconvenient.
And, we get it—when you’re in the middle of your work and you want to get things done, you don’t want to be interrupted.
So the phone rings, and agents want to just let it ring. But remember that these phone calls can present opportunities to cross-sell, upsell, acquire new customers, and help your current customers.
The truth is that that ringing phone is why we as insurance agencies really exist, and when it rings, it’s anything but an interruption. It’s the work we really need to be doing.
But when the attitude at an agency is to let the phone ring, then two things happen.
The first is that there are those agents who are quick to pick up. But they then get the brunt of the calls, and can end up completely overloaded. Then, there are the ones who are “wait and see.”
And of course, then there’s leadership, who assume that agents know to pick up the phone.
But really, this isn’t something that should be assumed. So what can you do instead?
Set up a process around answering the phone.
Create Your Phone Process
If your team is struggling to answer the phone, you need to create a system around your phone that makes sense.
What does this sort of system look like? First, identify who is first in line to answer, and then second, third, and fourth.
We’ve found that the best way to judge that is by rings. One ring means that reception should answer, two rings goes to the backup person, three rings means the next tier answers, and so on.
What happens if the phone keeps ringing? The fourth ring should go to a leader or manager, which should have everyone on alert. If a leader or manager has to pick up the phone, we know that everyone else should be on the phone, or else, there’s a problem.
If you do find that there’s a problem, where can you go from there? You can turn to the metrics, pull up call reports, and look at your phone situation from that perspective.
Also, when you do address phone issues, don’t address it as a group, or else agents can hide amongst each other, and ignore the issue. The best way to approach phone pickups is to discuss it with individuals, and those individuals should clearly have that responsibility in their job description. If it’s not in their job description, there’s nothing to hold them accountable.
A System of Tiers
At the end of the day, remember that if your agency is struggling with agents picking up the phone, you need tiers. You need a front line of defense, a system of agents who are backups, and as the last tier, your managers.
The phone should also be in agents’ job descriptions, and when you address it, it should be addressed on an individual level. That’s because when you talk about it in a group, agents can hide and keep doing the same thing.
Don’t forget: the phone is the reason we exist, and it’s not something that’s an inconvenience, although it might seem that way at the moment.
And if our client isn’t calling us, then who are they calling?
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