This week, Call Centre Helper visited AllClear Travel Insurance in Essex, managed by Linda Davis.
A merry festive call centre
|AllClear Travel Insurance Fact File
|Avaya/Plantronics Supra Elite
|Spreadsheets based on Call Centre Helper’s Erlang Calculator
|Homegrown and Green screen
It was hard to ignore the festive atmosphere which welcomed us as we walked into the AllClear call centre; there were two Christmas trees, desk dividers trimmed with tinsel and even a handful of agents donning tinsel-wrapped headsets.
Christmas had come early at AllClear, with the majority of the decorations having been put up in late November.
A niche market product
The call centre’s flagship product is their travel insurance, which has been on the market for 13 years. It is a niche market product targeting people living with medical conditions, as well as the mature market who would find it difficult (if not impossible) to find insurance anywhere else.
Overall, the business is predominately sales and customer service, as all claims calls (dealing with lost luggage and medical assistance) are outsourced.
Agents have to maintain high quality calls to receive their commission
One of the most interesting things about AllClear Insurance is their bonus scheme. They run two bonus schemes side by side, one for standard commission and another for quality. However, if the agents don’t meet their quality targets then they don’t receive their commission.
The quality of calls is scored on a sliding scale of Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. Each level determines the number of calls that are regularly monitored (12 per month for Bronze vs. 1 per month for Platinum). The quality level also determines whether or not the agent will receive their commission and the rate that it will be paid at. For example, a Silver agent will receive no commission whilst a Gold agent will.
Any breaches in protocol – flagged up in monthly call monitoring sessions – result in an agent being bumped down a level for the subsequent month. The agent can then redeem themselves at the next monitoring session and have their previous quality level reinstated.
“We believe this system is fair,” said Linda Davis, manager of AllClear. “We expect our agents to deliver high quality customer service and our commission structure reflects this.”
Top 3 motivation techniques we learnt from AllClear Travel Insurance
- “Top Performer of the Month” competition – Each month the floor managers host a competition to reward a top performing agent. At the end of each month, the winner receives a high street voucher and also has their name entered into a prize draw for a chance to win a TV or holiday at the end of the year.
- The “advent calendar game” – This is a Christmas-themed incentive which allows agents to open windows on a specially designed advent calendar for every policy they sell. Behind each door is a prize such as having an extra 60 minutes added to their lunch break.
- “Key-word bingo” – This fun little game is one that can be adapted to any call centre. Agents are given scoring cards marked with key words usually heard during calls (i.e. medical conditions and holiday destinations). Then, like normal bingo, every time an agent hears one of these words, they tick it off on their sheet. The first one to complete a line or a full house wins a prize.
Extra training during quiet periods
Unsurprisingly, selling travel insurance is a seasonal business, with most policies being sold in the lead-up to the summer holidays. This results in an annual pattern of the call centre being bombarded with calls from January through to September – they see an approximate 240% increase in calls in January each year – and calls drying up dramatically between October and December.
In light of this, the call centre staffing levels fluctuate between 65 and 50 agents, depending on the season. Whilst this does make staffing the call centre a challenge, the management team have developed a well-honed strategy to handle it; they hire agents on 6-month (January–June) contracts and take advantage of returning university students looking for summer work.
Then when the call centre quietens down (from October onwards) the staff are trimmed back from 65 agents to around 50, and an intensive training periods begins. This consists predominantly of refresher courses to keep the remaining agents sharp for the next wave of incoming calls in January.
Given the nature of the insurance industry, there is no shortage of training material during the winter months, as the agents have to make sure they know their 13 available policies inside and out, as well as understand a vast array of medical conditions.
The ability to recognise the names of medical conditions is an especially important skill for the agents, it helps instil confidence in their customers but more importantly ensures the customer has correct cover for their travels.
An unusual collection of technology
We encountered an unusual collection of technology at the AllClear call centre as agents were using modern Symon wallboards and Avaya phones and headsets, alongside old-fashioned green screens. Yet agent feedback is that they actually find this system easier and faster to use than the more modern desktop display, once they have got the hang of it.
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