Money Moves

Insurer promotes consultative selling

By Wing Kei

This is a fortnightly series of articles focusing on the banking and financial industries

Macy Lim, senior manager, personal insurance, Dao Heng Insurance Co Ltd
Photo: Johnny Kwok

Increased awareness among the general public about the need for long-term planning and prudent financial management has caused insurance companies to become far more confident about future business prospects.

The new mood has also persuaded Dao Heng Insurance Co Ltd that consultative selling, which allows tailor-made services to be offered for individual customers, is the way forward. The process generally starts with a customer relationship officer who researches sales opportunities when handling inbound calls and also conducts outbound telemarketing activities.

"Doing telemarketing for personal insurance products involves playing a proactive role," says Macy Lim, Dao Heng's senior manager for personal insurance. "The ultimate goal of our training is that staff learn to listen and respond appropriately."

Ms Lim adds that consultative selling involves providing customer support and explaining new products. The customer relationship officer must therefore understand the full range of insurance products available and have a strong drive to sell. "This is not like a standard sales role," she says. "That is why we give new joiners specialist training in the necessary skills."

Demand within the industry for good customer relationship staff currently exceeds supply. Dao Heng therefore accepts the need to provide comprehensive training programmes which are updated when new products are introduced. "We intend to promote life insurance products later this year and will be hiring and training staff as part of this initiative," says Ms Lim.

She dismisses the idea that working in a call centre is a routine and demanding job. Instead, she highlights the opportunities for career development and for learning the business by meeting the insurance needs of many different customers.

"There is a cost involved in handling every phone call received from customers. Therefore, we want our staff to make every call count and to enhance the relationship with the client. We expect genuine interaction, not to have people who simply repeat questions or answers like a robot," Ms Lim notes.

The company now employs about 20 customer relationship officers. On-the-job experience usually begins with selling travel or household insurance products. This follows specific training modules and is done under close supervision. Once staff are familiar with one range of products, they move on to something new. The whole process may last for about six months before a recruit is fully competent to handle every type of enquiry or product.

Ms Lim adds that a customer relationship officer with two to three years of solid experience and a proven record of sales achievement may be promoted to team leader. This can lead on to positions in management after a further five years or so of relevant experience and good sales performance.

Taken from Career Times 29 July 2005, p. A2
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