How Remote Agents Working Virtually Improve Sales Efficiency

Joe Orr, EVP Insurance, Clearlink
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Joe Orr, EVP Insurance, Clearlink

Joe Orr, EVP Insurance, Clearlink

Virtual platforms that allow sales agents to work remotely yet remain connected are breaking the call center mold. While brick-and-mortar call centers are still essential for many insurance carriers, more and more sales agents are working remotely with positive results. The right virtual platform for remote sales allows for the same collaboration, instruction, and visibility into employee activity experienced in traditional call centers—with some platforms offering even more insight via machine learning increasing sales efficiency.

Today’s virtual platforms don’t just connect sales agents to the caller queue and record call time. They provide a collaborative environment where sales coaches can monitor calls and provide real-time advice. These platforms collect call data with audio and speech-to-text recording and, through use of machine learning algorithms, make that data useful. And they allow sales agents more flexibility in terms of home work environment.

Based on our experience running brick-and-mortar call centers and using virtual agents, here are four of the ways the right machine learning virtual platform for remote agents can increase sales efficiency.

  Increasing sales efficiency through a machine learning virtual platform  

1. Increased Access to Structured Data

An advanced machine learning virtual platform not only collects data through speech-to-text translation but also uses accelerants to turn the conversations into structured data. Rather than having to listen to a random sample of an agent’s calls in order to evaluate their performance, sales coaches receive structured reports showing what agents handle well and where there are opportunities for improvement. If agents find themselves at the same roadblocks over and over again, the data will show that, and coaches can jump in to provide assistance or additional training.

Some platforms also provide a chat area for agents to converse and ask one another for advice. These watercooler conversations in a brick-and-mortar call center aren’t captured, but they are with a virtual platform, giving coaches additional insight to the difficulties agents face. If the same questions keep getting asked, sales coaches take this into account for quick syncs and training updates.

  An advanced machine learning virtual platform not only collects data through speech-to-text translation but also uses accelerants to turn the conversations into structured data​  

2. Higher Agent Availability Rate

When comparing our brick-and-mortar call centers and virtual agents, we’ve found that the availability among virtual agents is significantly higher. There are practical reasons for this: no getting stuck in traffic on the way into work, no weather troubles making the commute difficult, no long lines in the cafeteria causing agents to come back late from lunch. Work-from-home agents are also more likely to work if they are feeling a little under the weather compared to those required to come into the office.

In addition, agents working from home tend to be on the phone more consistently than those working in a call center. The solitary environment leads to less socializing—and any socializing that does occur is done in the platform’s chat area instead of away from the computer. Even if virtual agents don’t have a higher percentage of sales in relation to the amount of calls they receive, they make more total sales because they take more calls.

3. Refined Hiring Practices

When you hire agents to work remotely, you are not tied to geography. No matter how many great candidates may be available near your brick-and-mortar call center, that number is eclipsed by the qualified candidates you have access to if you’re able to hire nationwide. In one of our recent hiring pushes, we received more than 6,000 applicants for virtual positions. For our brick-and-mortar center, we generally receive no more than 600 applicants.

When you have ten times as many applicants for the same number of positions, you’re going to be able to hire better people. We use the Berke Assessment as a first cutoff, using the test to determine whether or not candidates are likely to succeed as sales agents. With so many applicants, we’re able to hire the highest scorers, leading to more success down the road.

4. Improved Employee Satisfaction

In our experience, the highly qualified candidates that apply for remote positions do so because they like working from home— the freedom it affords, the convenience, and, in many cases, the solitude. Employees who are looking for this type of position and find one that works for them are more satisfied with their jobs. Higher satisfaction and higher qualification at hiring combine for more efficient and effective sales reps.

From the Present to the Future

The above-listed factors improve sales efficiency in the present—start using virtual agents now and you’ll start seeing these results. As machine learning and AI continue to improve, so will the virtual sales platforms for remote workers. Data will be better organized and more quickly put into use. AI chatbots will get better at providing reps with quick responses to customer objections. Callers may be routed to agents best suited to respond to their needs and personalities. The possibilities are endless as the technology continues to grow. And as we find better ways to integrate machine learning and the human touch, customers and companies will both reap the benefits.

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