It’s safe to say that these are unprecedented times. With over 80 million Americans under orders to stay home from work, and many more self-isolating to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many insurance agents suddenly find that going to the office isn’t an option.
That’s doesn’t mean the end of your business, though. Agents have been increasingly opting to work from home in recent years as technology has improved. In fact, remote jobs have increased by 173% since 2005. With the right technology and expectations in place, working from home during COVID-19 is not only possible but a chance to decide if it’s right for your business permanently.
Here are some tips for working home efficiently and how to digitally serve your clients during the quarantine.
While it is possible to create a team dynamic during remote work, it does take creativity and intentionality. Using the right tools and techniques ensures that transition is as smooth as possible for your workers.
Communication is critical to making remote work successful. Email is not enough to get the level of contact needed for a smooth transition. While too many communication channels can create chaos, a few set ones can help you and your team.
Slack is a popular communication channel for businesses. It allows all of your team to communicate in one space and integrates with multiple platforms that you may already have. It makes file sharing a breeze and is mobile-friendly, as well.
Video conferencing is a necessity to keep up with team members, inform them of any changes, and allow group discussions. It can also be useful for complex or sensitive conversations that could be misconstrued over text. GoToMeeting and Zoom are both video conferencing platforms that are easy to set up and use.
Documentation is an essential aspect of the insurance agency. Document sharing will help make remote work easier for your team to get the information they need quickly. Google Docs, Quip, Hive, and DropBox are all popular options for sharing important documents and information across your company.
Workflow management tools also help coworkers stay in sync with one another. Presence indicators let you know when teammates are available, busy, or away from their desks. It also records team calls for those who can’t make a particular meeting.
You may have the best technology in the world, but without your team’s buy-in, it will be useless. With the amount of transition that your workers undergo as a result of COVID-19, they may be hesitant to add new technology on top of it all.
However, you can help ease the transition and increase the use of remote technology. Get the team’s input on the platform they would prefer. Agree on which patterns to use as a team, so they have a say in what technology they want to use.
Next, provide thorough training on any new technology. Your coworkers may feel overwhelmed with all the changes that they are going through, so training will help them have more confidence.
Lastly, make it a habit and hold them accountable. Establish expectations for how often they need to communicate and when is the best time. For example, you may require weekly check-ins via video conference, and use Slack for urgent communication. Let them know when the best time is to communicate with you, such as afternoons, but how they can reach you if they run into an issue at any other time.
It is a stressful time, and remote work has the potential to damage your coworkers’ connection to the team. Find ways to help boost their morale and create a team spirit.
Consider remote social interaction to make sure you maintain a team spirit with your workers. During video conference calls, take a little bit of time to discuss non-work items and check-in to see how everyone is functioning. Consider hosting a virtual pizza party, where you arrange to have pizza delivered to team members during a conference call.
Your team members are not the only ones experiencing the stress and anxiety of COVID-19. Your customers will need you more than ever if they have questions, become sick, or run into issues with payments. Make sure that you have the technology to maintain a high level of customer service.
Many insurance agents will find themselves busier than ever. Whether because of new technology, because of concerns about the Coronavirus, or regular business, customers will likely want to talk with you. Use communication tools that make it easier for them to contact you.
Google is currently offering its Hangouts Pro for free. Hangouts allow you to easily have video calls to chat with clients and share your screen to explain information. It’s easy to access and customers can connect directly through their phone.
Now is also the time for creating secure online payment options. Customers no longer have the luxury of stopping by your office to make payments, so consider adding services such as ePayPolicy, PayPal or Stripe to your agency.
Signatures are also a critical aspect of insurance impacted by remote work. Online services, such as DocuSign, enables your customers to sign insurance documents on whatever device they choose.
Offering a mobile app to your policyholders can help you service your clients remotely and efficiently. It improves the functionality for your customers and allows them to have more control over their insurance policies. They have a digital insurance wallet with access to their ID cards, the ability to make payments, submit claims, and contact your agency in one tap.
Remote work provides you with the perfect opportunity to improve your technology and create better systems for your agency.
We hope you are safe and healthy!
Independent insurance agents use Agentero to boost their revenue, save time, and deliver a superior customer experience. We integrate with your current technology to modernize your operations and position you for growth. Check out our website to learn more.