Communications expert ‘staggered’ by amount of unanswered calls

Insurance brokers are leaving 16% of customer calls unanswered for more than five minutes, according to research by call management experts Callstream.

For an average-sized insurance broker with typical sales call conversion rates and profit margins on each policy sale, more than £1.3m in profit is put at risk from these missed opportunities, Callstream estimates.

The findings were revealed after Callstream conducted ‘Mystery Shopper’ analysis of more than 200 insurance brokers’ call centre performance.

This included how long it took for calls to be answered during peak and off-peak times, the number of automated options provided to callers, the security of taking credit card payments and the ability to transfer calls from one department to another.

Chief executive Mick Crosthwaite said: “We are always staggered by the extent of this issue. The business case to invest in technology and staff to ensure customer and sales calls are answered promptly is clear, and common sense.

“But so often we find that businesses lack the basic ability even to track how long customers are on hold for or the number of abandoned calls,”

“The fact that average-sized brokers are putting at risk over a million of pounds of profit every year is terrifying – especially when profit margins are under such pressure.”

The at-risk profit calculation is based on industry benchmarks and Callstream data, the size of average UK brokers’ call centres, the number of calls each agent would receive every working day, the proportion of inbound calls that are typically sales calls, industry standard conversion rates and typical profit margins on each policy sale.

Crosthwaite added: “One of the very first impressions a potential customer has when calling an insurance broker is how long it takes to answer the call. If a broker takes too long to do so, then it reflects badly on their overall customer service.

“Our estimate is based solely on the potential losses due to missed calls, but what this analysis clearly excludes is the intangible reputational damage and loss of repeat business through inadequate customer service. The cost to brokers could in actual fact be much higher.”