Adopting technology to foster better customer relationship and facilitate growth

Research indicates that three-quarters of brokers have tried digital technology, but few report they were fully satisfied with their experiences. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

Compelling benefits packages were long seen as the key to recruiting and retaining top talent. But as the Great Resignation has put more pressure on companies to compete in a tight marketplace, employers seek broker partners who can meet their needs quickly and efficiently. For brokers, the right technology can help them foster better client relationships and facilitate business growth.

Related: The intersection of benefits and technology: How brokers can position themselves as true partners

Digital tools are not new, but in the last couple of years, they have become must-haves for brokers to conduct business the way they need to – and the way that their customers expect – in today’s hypercompetitive world. The right technology can give brokers a competitive advantage by enabling them to better serve employer clients, work more efficiently and fuel business growth.

For the best benefits, select the right technology

However, all technology is not the same. For decades, companies have relied on systems consisting of multiple computer applications hosted on local servers, each needing to be updated individually when there were changes. Locally hosted data also led to silos of information that could be different from server to server. The modern marketplace needs systems that host information in the cloud rather than locally, providing brokers with efficient enrollment, instant access to quotes, and dedicated support teams from anywhere, on any internet-connected device. More than half (54%) of businesses expect that benefits administration technology will play a bigger role for them in the future.

Advancements in payroll and benefits administration feature advanced applications, quotes, customer onboarding and other capabilities all accessible from the cloud, enabling a broker to service more clients more efficiently than ever before. One-third of companies completed their entire enrollment digitally in 2020, while nearly six-in-10 (58%) completed a portion of the enrollment online, according to BenefitMall research.

While our research indicates that three-quarters of brokers have tried digital technology, few report they were fully satisfied with their experiences. In order to optimize the benefits of cloud-based technologies, brokers should look for solutions that offer the following five features:

Automated quotes

A technology-based quote tool should be a top priority. Generating quotes is one of the most time-consuming tasks for a broker. Producing accurate quotes requires a significant amount of time to identify and compare an array of different products and options, and complete required paperwork that is time-consuming to prepare and file. By contrast, a technology-based tool can generate digital quotes for medical, vision, and dental insurance much more quickly.

Beyond the time savings, such a tool also reduces the actual labor involved in preparing quotes and eliminates the paper chase. Rather than two or three people spending a complete day just to generate a quote, a single staff member can input a few numbers to produce the quote in a fraction of the time, freeing the rest of the day – and that of the other staffers – to provide consultative value and serve other clients.

Smart applications and forms

Applications and forms change at least annually, sometimes more often than that. With legacy systems, a broker wastes a significant amount of time making revisions and ensuring that the applications and forms are updated with the latest dates, disclosures, and other information. Smart applications and forms, by contrast, are automatically updated without manual intervention, enabling brokers to spend time on strengthening client relationships and building new business.

Smart applications and forms combined with customer segmentation technology can automatically send the right forms to the right clients, rather than a broker taking his or her time to ensure that clients get only the forms they need.

data security

Hackers are more aggressive than ever in attempting to gain sensitive information about companies and their employees, including benefits information, and are using a variety of malware to gain access to this data.

Unsecured benefits data can cause a tremendous amount of damage to individuals as well as to an employer’s and a broker’s brands, reputations, and teams. So, it is extremely important to identify a platform that offers complete 360 ​​data encryption in transition across multiple networks and at rest.

Customer experience

Brokers need to offer clients easy access to clear, concise and accurate information, enabling employers to easily understand offers and make quick decisions. Clients have no interest in spending endless hours poring over benefits documents in an attempt to understand nuances and pick out key details.

Legacy solutions and outdated reporting tools are too cumbersome for brokers and their customers alike. They don’t integrate well with more modern solutions and present information in unclear language. Modern platforms, by contrast, provide proposals, quotes, and enrollment solutions in easily understandable formats.

Easy access to information

Customer experience is a process. It does not stop once a customer is enrolled. A broker needs to increase or at least maintain a client’s confidence in the decision, or the business will be lost at renewal time. Clients want to be able to securely access information 24×7 without waiting endless time on hold to talk to an agent. And they want to be able to see benefits information, payments, etc., on demand, with a simple, though secure, log-in process.

Today’s clients expect instant access to their benefits programs – or they will take their business elsewhere. Look at your own insurance provider’s digital access. Does it meet your expectations? Can you easily find the information you want? Can you understand your benefits? Your prospects and customers ask the same questions.

Changing tides of technology

Modern, easy-to-use technology has become as critical as the benefits packages themselves for today’s employers. Technology will continue to be pivotal in the growth of a broker’s business. Brokers who fail to provide modern, digital solutions will find it difficult to compete against brokers who adopt these solutions. Now is the time to embrace new technology, in order to continue to grow and thrive as the market evolves.

Scott Kirksey is the CEO of BenefitMall, which partners with a network of 20,000 brokers and more than 120 carriers to deliver employee benefits to more than 140,000 small and medium-sized businesses. For more information about BenefitMall, visit www.benefitmall.com.

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