With the number of retiring baby boomers increasing, it’s time to assess customer service in the insurance industry. Is your insurance call center ready to serve this population? Do your call center employees know how to uncover needs, recommend plans, and explain coverage? The Baby Boomers are coming, are you ready?

Preparing for this increase in service needs takes three important steps: hire quality agents, train your staff, and create an environment of continuous learning.

Step One — Hiring: What qualities do you look for?

Have you heard of the saying, “Hire the smile; train the skills?” Customer service representatives are truly the voice of your company. When you’re looking to hire new employees to prepare for the increase in service needs, keep the following five characteristics of the HEART Model in mind:

Hear and Understand: Does the prospective insurance employee show good listening skills? Does he or she ask clarifying questions to ensure understanding?

Expect the Best: Does the candidate exhibit a positive outlook? Is he or she excited about the prospect of working for your company?

Act with Integrity: Can the applicant give examples showing how he or she has responded with integrity in prior work or school situations?

Respect Diversity: Is the candidate open-minded? Ask the applicant to share how he or she would handle a call with customers from diverse backgrounds, of various ages, and with different health care needs.

Transcend Yourself: Ask the prospective employee to share some current goals. Is he or she willing and interested in learning new skills?

Step Two — Training: How do you prepare employees to succeed?

When hiring new employees, it’s important to equip them with the skills to achieve success. Call center agents need to be able to serve callers quickly in a way that leaves customers satisfied and prevents callbacks. How do you achieve these results? Provide customer service training! Training will improve customer satisfaction scores, reduce the number of call escalations, and keep insurance representatives engaged and motivated.

Step Three — Ongoing Learning: How do you set a precedent for continuous improvement?

Once new employees are meeting call quality standards, training shouldn’t stop. In order to keep your staff performing at their optimal potential, create opportunities for continuous improvement through ongoing coaching, brown-bag learning lunches, on-the-job activities, and mentoring programs. Studies have shown that effective learning depends largely on what happens after training is over. This is the stage when the ideas learned in training are reinforced and become a part of the employee’s skillset.

If you want to be prepared to serve the aging baby boomer population, implement these three steps. Agents will have the confidence to answer insurance questions and serve customers to their best ability. You will not only have satisfied customers, you will have satisfied employees.