A Qualitative Look at the Costs & Benefits of In-House vs. Outsourced Appointment Scheduling

It's no secret that regularly meeting with your existing customers is vital to any insurance agency's business model (increasing retention, cross-sells, and referrals).


Not only is it vital for a successful business, but it's also crucial to ensuring your customers are adequately covered.


There are two common approaches to setting these annual(or semi-annual) review appointments:


1) Setting appointments in-house (by either hiring a new staff member or adding the task to existing staff members' plates,

2) Outsourcing to a third-party appointment setting service (like engagex).



I fully realize we're a bit biased in this area since we have some skin in the game - of course, we think you should outsource appointment setting to us!


However, we also understand that some agencies can be just as successful doing it in-house.

Happy couple sits with their insurance agent

If you're trying to decide which is the better approach for your agency, this blog post is for you.


We're giving you an informal qualitative cost-benefit analysis/breakdown for both approaches so you can take a look at it yourself and decide how to approach appointment setting in your agency.


We're classifying "Costs" as any effort, time, energy, resources, etc., that you put into the approach, and the "Benefits" are the positive results of that effort.


Without further ado, let's jump right in!



Overlapping Costs & Benefits


Some costs and benefits will be a reality no matter your approach, so we'll cover those first.


Costs


Regularly identifying which customers to call


Whether you set appointments in-house or outsource the task, you'll have to take a little bit of time to decide which customers you want to reach out to in the coming month. There's no getting around this one.



Identify calendar availability


You'll have to keep your calendar up to date with available times for these appointments.



Spending time meeting with your customers


This is a given, but either way, you'll have to meet with your customers for these appointments. You'll need to prepare for the appointments, conduct the meetings, identify action items and follow-up steps, etc.

If you haven't held appointments like this before, you'll have to spend time learning what works and what doesn't.



Benefits


Increased Retention


By meeting with your customers regularly, you cultivate and deepen relationships that will last much longer than they would otherwise.


Cross-Selling Opportunities


Customer insurance reviews are an excellent time for identifying opportunities to turn a mono-lined customer into a multi-lined customer.


Another happy couple meets with their insurance agent

During a review meeting, you may find that a customer's existing coverage doesn't meet their current needs, and you can help get them the appropriate coverage.

Obtain Referrals


When you're talking with your clients about their life changes, it will be natural to ask about a family member or friend who has also experienced similar life changes and might need further coverage.


Educating your customers about all the different products or services you have available prepares them to refer their friends to you when it comes up in conversation.




In-House Appointment Setting


Costs of In-House Appointment Setting


Hiring Additional Staff


Even if you plan to add appointment setting to the plates of your existing staff members, things get busy, and inevitably, appointment setting efforts get put on the back burner unless you hire additional staff.


Hiring a new staff member isn't cheap. You'll also have to account for sick days, benefits, vacation time off, and more.



Train Staff on Appointment Setting


Training your existing and new staff members on appointment setting calls is no easy task, even if you're trained on how to make these calls.



Write a Script


Whether you want a general script like we use or a more specific script, you'll have to come up with an effective one.



Identify Common Objections & Responses


Along with nailing down a script, you'll have to know common objections and questions and, just as importantly, how to handle them.


Luckily, we've got a free PDF download of the most common objections we see and ways you can respond to them. Check it out here:

20 Objections to Customer Insurance Review Appointments
.pdf
Download PDF • 269KB

Find & Utilize Click-to-Call Software


Calling without click-to-call software wastes precious time. If you're going to set appointments in-house, finding software that saves you time is vital.



Quality Assurance


You'll need to set up a way to monitor the appointment setting phone calls to be sure that your customers are getting the best experience possible.


insurance team training for appointment scheduling

Reschedule & Follow-up With No-Shows


Things come up, and appointments don't always go as planned. You'll need to have a process to reschedule appointments and follow up with clients who simply don't show up.



Higher Chances of Burnout Among Staff


When your staff members have to make these calls, their chances of burnout increase, especially if they're overwhelmed with other tasks. Check out this blog post to learn more about employee burnout and what you can do to prevent it.


Why You Need to Prevent Burnout at Your Agency (and how to do it) (7 min. read)



Benefits of In-House Appointment Setting


Busywork for Non-Licensed Staff Members


If you have non-licensed staff members, it might make sense for them to make appointment setting calls since their capacity to handle other tasks is limited.



Customer Familiarity


Your staff members will likely be familiar with many of your customers. In many cases, this can benefit you if you know how to handle specific customers.



Staff Familiarity


It can warm them up to the appointment if your customers are familiar with who is calling them.


Keep in mind, though, that this can also be a detriment to setting appointments - often, your customers might want to go over everything right then and there, which somewhat defeats the purpose of getting them in for an actual appointment.

insurance team member speaks with customers over the phone to schedule appointments

You won't have the time to prepare for their review, which will turn out to be less thorough.



More Freedom for Script Customization


When you handle the calls in-house, you'll be able to customize your appointment setting process fully.


You'll have to spend the time to customize it fully and figure out all of the logistics, but it works for some agencies! You can decide exactly what your appointment schedulers will say and how many times you'll reach out, etc.




Outsourced Appointment Setting


While there are other appointment setting vendors, we can only speak for ourselves. There are likely some similarities between other vendors and us, but for the sake of this post, we'll focus on the costs and benefits of using Engagex specifically.


Costs of Outsourcing


Payment for Services


One of the costs is, well, a cost! Our monthly subscription starts as low as $122 to have us call 50 households (up to 3 times each) and set as many appointments as possible. A much lesser cost in comparison to hiring a new staff member.



Brief, Direct Communication w/ Your Account Manager


Once you've set up your calendar, notes, and other settings via the Engagex Agent Portal, you'll need to communicate with us if appointments don't show or if you'd like us to reschedule any specific appointments.


This is done by either marking it on your calendar via the Agent Portal or sending a quick email to your account manager if that's more convenient for you.




Benefits of Outsourcing


Free Up Your Staff to Sell and/or Conduct Reviews


Outsourcing your appointment setting allows your staff members to focus on prospecting and servicing your customers.


When expected to set customer review appointments on top of all their other duties, it often falls by the wayside and doesn't bring about the desired results. (They'll also thank you for not making them make these tedious phone calls.)



Reaching Your Hard-to-Reach Customers


We have callers from the morning until the evening working on getting a hold of your customers. This gives us a higher likelihood of reaching those customers who are hard to reach during business hours.


Many agents share the sentiment that we're able to schedule appointments with the customers they haven't been able to reach in years!



No Preconceived Notions About Specific Customers


Your staff members are probably familiar with many of your customers, which can be a benefit (as discussed above). However, what about those customers who make your staff members cringe when they have to call?


Our callers have no preconceived notions or ideas about how a specific customer might react to a phone call, which ensures that we will contact all of your customers with equal thought and care, and none of them will fall through the cracks.



Monthly Reports Readily Available


Our online Engagex Agent Portal has capabilities to pull various reports for your records. You can easily run and pull the reports to refer back to and to see how effective the appointment setting is. Our reports are also helpful for updating customer contact info and noting the last time they were contacted.



Professionally Trained Callers


We thoroughly train our callers for this specific type of call. Appointment setting is more complex than you might initially think. Our callers have one job and one job only - and they do it well.


call center agents speak with insurance customers to schedule appointments

Consistency: Calls continue even when your staff gets sick, has vacation time, family emergencies, etc.


When you outsource your appointment setting, you don't have to worry about getting behind on calls when unexpected absences from you and your team arise. Whether you're extra busy in office or out of the office on vacation, we're calling for you and setting appointments.



General Script Allows You to Pivot


The script our callers use to set appointments is general enough for you to steer the meeting in the direction best for your customer and their coverage.



High Success Rate


Ultimately, a combination of extended calling hours, consistency, professional callers, and no preconceived notions, among other things, bring higher success rates than most in-house teams can produce for the amount of effort they put forth.




There you have it! The cost-benefit for both approaches should enable you to figure out what will be effective for your agency's appointment setting process. Because each agency has unique variables, there's not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution.



Did we miss anything in the analysis? Any costs we didn't think of or benefits we missed? Let us know in the comments below, or shoot us an email.


And don't forget to share this article with your colleagues who might be interested in the topic!

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