Customer: John Clark, Farmers Insurance agent
Industry: Family insurance
Location: Georgetown, Texas
8x8 Products: 8x8 Virtual Office
Favorite Feature: Phone that works anywhere with Internet access
Initial Setup: 2 phones
Time to Deploy: 5 days
Connectivity Type: Ethernet
Primary Reason for Choosing 8x8: Recommended by district manager, portable phone supports multiple offices, service is very affordable
8x8 Business VoIP Enables Independent Insurance Agent to Work Anywhere
John Clark was living in Southern California when he got the chance to take over an insurance office in Austin, Texas. But with two young sons still in school, he couldn't relocate his family right away. Clark needed a way to work seamlessly in both states. With 8x8 business VoIP phone service, he found one.
Multiple Offices Create a Communications Challenge
Clark worked successfully as a field agent for many years, and then moved into a corporate position in Orange County, California. After three years at corporate, though, he was ready to start working as an agent again. In 2011, when an opportunity arose to take over a Farmers Insurance office in Austin, Texas, he jumped at the chance.
But the timing was awkward. With two sons in the middle of the academic year, Clark and his wife didn’t want to move them to a new school. They decided Clark would go ahead and set up his new office in Texas, and then fly back to California every other weekend until the end of the school year.
“I was going to be commuting back and forth so I needed a business office in Austin and a home office in Orange County,” he says. “I also needed calls to come to both offices so I could respond quickly to clients.”
Clark mentioned to his district manager that he was concerned about missing business calls while maintaining two offices in different states. His district manager understood his concern and immediately recommended a solution: he referred Clark to 8x8.
Portable Phones Plug in Almost Anywhere
Clark contacted 8x8 in early 2012, shortly before his scheduled move to Texas. Five days later his new 8x8 VoIP phones arrived.
“My 8x8 account manager was great,” says Clark. “I explained what I needed to do, and he got the phones out to me right away. Delivery was very fast.”
Clark initially ordered two 8x8 VoIP phones. One stays in Austin, Texas, with his staff; the other travels with him wherever he goes.
“I carry my phone in my backpack,” he says. “When I was commuting between Austin and Orange County, all I had to do is plug it in at either office. Business calls came through without a hitch.”
8x8 business VoIP also gives him the flexibility to work from his home in Texas. “When I first moved to Texas, I lived 17 miles from the office—and they were grueling miles,” Clark recalls. “There were days when I just plugged my phone in at home. Nobody but my staff knew that I wasn’t at the office. The only time people caught on is when my dog started barking!”
Whenever Clark finds himself in a place that has no jack for his 8x8 phone, he turns his laptop into a softphone using a Bluetooth headset.
“With 8x8, I can work just about anywhere,” he says. “The portability of the phone and the service is amazing.”
Austin Office Moves without Missing a Beat
A year after Clark started working in Austin, he decided to relocate his business to Georgetown, which is 25 miles away and one of the fastest growing cities in Texas.
Once again, 8x8’s portability came in handy. “We never missed a beat when we moved,” he says. “Our new location was practically empty—it didn’t even have furniture yet—but we had our 8x8 phones and Internet access. That’s all we needed to open the Georgetown office and start taking calls.”
Extension Dialing Connects Workers and Reduces Call Wait Times
As Clark’s business has grown, he’s added three part-time staff members and a third phone. 8x8’s extension dialing feature makes it easy for everyone in the office to communicate.
“I can call my employees by dialing their four-digit extensions whether I’m in the office or working off site,” says Clark. “It’s even easier than hollering down the hall.”
Extension dialing also simplifies the process of transferring calls, reducing wait times for callers who have accidents or emergencies.
“My employees can handle most calls themselves, but if a call is urgent, they transfer it to me. No matter where I am, they can dial my four-digit extension and reach me. They don’t have to keep clients waiting on hold while they try my home number and my cell number,” explains Clark.
Internet Fax Ensures Receipt of Important Documents
Another 8x8 feature that makes life much easier for Clark and his staff is Internet fax. “Internet fax is a tremendous feature that I love,” says Clark. “We all get an email notification when a fax comes in, and a confirmation when a fax goes out. There’s no more uncertainty about whether faxes were received or sent.”
The storage capacity of 8x8’s Internet fax feature has also been a boon to his business. “When you fax documents back and forth, inevitably something is going to get lost,” he says. “8x8 stores faxes for 60 days, so if a client calls and says they haven’t received a document, we can log into our 8x8 account and quickly resend the fax.”
Email Notification Expedites Response to Urgent Voice Messages
Clark’s office uses one shared voicemail box for messages. To make sure he responds to urgent messages right away, Clark uses 8x8’s email notification of voicemail feature.
“Email notification is really useful when I’m on the phone,” he says. “I can mute the call, and click the email attachment to listen to the voicemail. If it’s not urgent, I let my staff handle it; if it is urgent, I call the person back immediately. Email notification ensures I’m there for clients when they need me.”
Technical Support Resolves Issues in Real Time
Given how responsive he is to his own clients, it’s no wonder Clark gets impatient with companies that put callers through lengthy menus before connecting them with a live person. The fact that 8x8 does not treat customers that way is a huge selling point with him.
“8x8’s technical support is fantastic!” Clark exclaims. “When I call, I only have to select a couple of options before I get to the person I need. It shows that 8x8 respects my time.”
Clark also notes that 8x8’s tech support team is very generous with their own time. “I’m not the kind of guy who will read the manual,” he admits. “I can’t slow down long enough to learn how technology works.
When I need help, I pick up the phone. 8x8 stays on the phone with me until my issue is resolved. I’m very impressed with how much support they provide and how patient they are.”
8x8 Delivers Great Value
Since opening his office in February 2012, Clark has grown close to many of his clients. He considers them friends, attending church services with them and calling them at the hospital to see how they’re doing.
When he meets with new clients, he likes to sit down at their kitchen table and get to know them personally. This may seem like an old-fashioned approach, but there is modern technology behind it.
“To serve as a personal insurance agent, I need a high-quality communication system,” says Clark. “With 8x8, I can be anywhere and still be available to clients.”
In the future Clark plans to install the 8x8 mobile app on his Android phone, so he can be just as accessible without having to carry his office phone around with him.
“I’m going to be on that mobile app like a chicken on a June bug!” he laughs. “It’s just a matter of taking the time to install the feature.”
He also plans to purchase an additional 8x8 phone for an employee who wants to start working from home. His own successful experience with working remotely makes him supportive of her decision.
When asked what he considers the main benefit of 8x8 business VoIP, Clark sums it up in two words: great value.
“8x8 service works very well and is incredibly affordable,” he says. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”