Tips for improving phone calls between insurance agents and clients

Mike Butts profile image February 16, 2024 | 7 min read

Communication is vital in an insurance office. From agents answering questions from current and potential clients, to researching policies with brokers, to scheduling appointments with claims adjusters and everything in between. Effective communications make for a well-functioning insurance office of any size or shape.

The key communication tool in all insurance agencies is still the telephone. So how do you master your insurance phone calls and business phone system? In this post, we’ll take a look at what makes phone calls effective and how you can get a phone system that will help you and your staff be more productive and provide a stellar client experience.

What makes insurance phone calls most effective?

Let’s back up a bit and first go over what makes a phone call effective. A lot of people may first learn about your insurance agency through word of mouth or an internet search. While both may pique interest, most people are going to want to call you first.

Your staff has to be able to promptly and clearly relay information to your potential clients in a phone call. It could be about your area of insurance expertise, office hours, or how to schedule a free consultation appointment to discuss their needs.

Policy holders may be dealing with stressful situations and need help figuring out what steps to take first. If staff can calmly and efficiently answer their questions, you have yourself an effective phone call and, more importantly, a client who feels supported. If they don’t get their needs met, you may have a problem, including eroding any good impression your client might have had.

How can you make telephone calls more effective?

It all starts with clear, simple language and a friendly tone. This is especially hard to do when you are trying to juggle insurance claims, set up client visits and make your business visible in your community. We get it, you have many demands competing for your valuable time, but you also must clearly communicate with everyone who calls your office.

During especially hectic times, answer the phone and politely tell callers that it’s busy and you need to put them on hold. Or get a phone system that takes care of simple requests for you. We’ll get to that in a bit. This way you free up staff to take care of the various needs of your clients.

When talking with a client, keep calm and friendly. Answer their questions to the best of your ability. This means that your front-line staff, whether that be an office administrator or a receptionist, needs to be well versed on your insurance business. If they don’t know an answer, they should offer to schedule a call with the lead insurance agent.

Make great phone calls part of your agency’s culture

Great phone calls and great communication are a pillar of any successful organization.

When you’re hiring staff, make communication a high priority for your candidates. Ask them how they handle conflict, how they communicate, and if they can share specific moments when they’ve had to practice effective communication.

Second, make it an important part of your training procedure. Create documents that can help your staff, new and old, understand how important good communication is for your clients. Train staff how to respond to upset callers and even give them scripts they can use. These scripts can be official policy, like the greeting they say when they first answer the phone, or they can be for specific scenarios, such as when a client calls to see if a type of damage is covered by their policy.

These scripts don’t have to be said verbatim, since that can sound a little robotic and tone is an important part of an effective phone call. You want your staff to be warm, empathetic and energetic—not sound impatient, cold and short. Think about the things you appreciate when engaging with other businesses and implement those ideas with your staff.

How to take phone calls to the next level

Clearly communicating over the phone is a great first step, but there are also technology tools to improve how you manage those phone calls.

A VoIP phone system offers many advanced business features to not only train your staff, but foster effective phone calls with clients. Here are some of the many tools for this available in Ooma Office:

Integrate your phone system with AgencyZoom

When placing or receiving calls using the AgencyZoom integration on the Ooma Office desktop app, you’ll see a Caller ID Pop—a small window on your screen with details about the caller. Think of it as a super-charged caller ID.

In addition to name and phone number, the Caller ID Pop will display info pulled from your AgencyZoom database, such as which policies a potential client is interested in, as well as clients’ current policies, their premiums and starting and ending dates. When there is a caller match in AgencyZoom, a record of the call will automatically be created in your AgencyZoom database.

Record calls for training

Use Call Recording to better train your staff. Recorded calls allow you to hear how your staff interacts with callers. When reviewing these calls, take notes and circle back with staff to share tips from real situations so they can diffuse difficult situations, calm nerves, educate and offer support. Call recording can also play a big role when confirming client notes and questions that need a follow-up.

Don’t leave callers hanging

If your front staff is busy and you don’t want your clients left hanging, the Virtual Receptionist has your back. You can set it up to answer basic questions, like how to start filing a claims form. You can even create a call tree to quickly route callers to a department, or a specific insurance agent or support staff member.

Stay connected on the go

Away from the office for the holidays or visiting a potential client? No worries. With Ooma Office, you can stay connected to your policy holders and staff no matter where you are. Turn your computer into a powerful phone system with the Ooma Office desktop app, and access your business calls when you’re away from the office with the Ooma Office mobile app.

Reduce call waiting time

Want your clients to have their phone calls answered quickly? With Multi-Ring, you can have phone calls ring on multiple phones and devices at the same time, allowing the first available person to answer and help.

Send important documents with eFax

Faxing is still an essential method of communication for many insurance agencies. You can easily send a Virtual Fax, aka eFax, with just a couple taps. Administrators can access your agency’s virtual fax logs—a handy feature if you need to verify transmissions of faxed invoices.

Manage calls during peak hours

Don’t forget to get ready for the busy times, like Mondays or the days after a major storm, with Call Queuing. You can create a simple call center and automatically place callers in a virtual waiting room that can be enhanced with recorded announcements until a staff member is available to answer their questions.

Gather remote members of your insurance agency

You don’t need to limit your communication to one-on-one phone calls. With audio conference calls and videoconferencing, you can assemble your entire staff together to discuss initiatives and challenges—no matter where they are.

Use Hot Desking when remote workers visit your office

Hot Desking is a great feature for insurance offices that have an area with shared phones and desks. Agents simply dial *50 on any unassigned desk phone in your office, enter their extension number and voicemail PIN. Bingo—that phone becomes their business phone line with all the functionality they are familiar with. Outgoing calls show their Caller ID. Incoming callers hear the agent’s voicemail greeting. When the agent leaves, they dial *51 to unassign the phone so it’s available for the next hot desker.

You’re ready to improve your phone calls

Now that you’ve got the basics down, you’re ready to begin making more effective phone calls between your agents, staff and callers. Start an action plan and implement some of the ideas and strategies we’ve talked about here. If you need an advanced, affordable business phone system to take you to the next level, Ooma can help. See why Ooma is a great fit for Ida Benavides, a Farmers Insurance agent in San Antonio, Texas, and Bob Powers, a Primerica Insurance agent in Fairlawn, Ohio.

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