Benefit consultants: Your clients and prospects are experiencing a major case of technology regret. They bought a BenAdmin platform that was supposed to solve their problems—open enrollment, managing employees, maintaining eligibility—but it hasn’t delivered.
While the importance of benefits technology is nothing new, it’s more urgent than ever amid the shift to permanent remote work. Employers recently experienced an exceedingly rough open enrollment, so now is the perfect time to discuss solutions that automate many of those painful, manual processes.
So what are benefit consultants supposed to do? Do they stay out of the technology conversation altogether for fear they make the wrong recommendation? Or do they go all-in and try to add a “benefits technology expert” to their team?
Let’s explore these two paths traditionally available to brokers—and how a third option opens the door to a win-win-win solution.
No longer an option: Ignore the tech, focus on benefits
The first path some brokers choose is to avoid the tech conversation altogether and focus solely on being the benefits expert. While this allows you to focus on what you know best, this approach leaves the door wide open for benefit consultants who are willing to have that conversation.
In fact, your prospects are getting advice to avoid brokers who can’t have the technology conversation. In SHRM’s Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Benefits Broker, the following advice is put forth for HR professionals: “Ensure your broker understands the HR technology landscape. You’ll want to know whether they can assist you in building and maintaining streamlined, efficient and high-quality HR processes.”
When you avoid the technology conversation altogether, your clients may likely end up using either a “free” system provided by one of their carriers or an enrollment firm, or perhaps an add-on BenAdmin module in their existing payroll system. More often than not, these options offer subpar functionality that can’t support the varying complexities across the spectrum of available benefits, may lack data integration capabilities, and tend to have cumbersome reporting tools with limited options for accessing data. This creates a need for manual workarounds and duplicate data entry – which results in time-consuming processes for HR while increasing the potential for human error. Not to mention, it handcuffs the employer to specific carrier(s) or vendors.
Ultimately, the employer becomes frustrated, leading them to seek out a benefit consultant who will better guide their technology experience.
The in-between option: The technology impersonator
On the other end of the spectrum, some firms have tackled the growing need for benefits technology by licensing a specific platform and attempting to manage the solution in-house.
The benefit consultants that embark down this path often begin by thinking the solution will be a value-add and a viable option to support the needs of employers across their entire book of business. It seems like a win-win: the employer receives a technology solution for free, and the consultant looks like the hero for delivering this solution.
The problem is: maintaining a benefits technology solution is a full-time job and requires a separate set of expertise that goes beyond just having knowledge of benefits. Unfortunately, many benefit consultants don’t recognize this until they’re in over their head struggling to properly implement and support their clients on the technology.
This leaves clients with a platform that just isn’t delivering. Their technology solution has created a new set of pain points, leaving them with technology regret (and not too happy with you as their consultant).
Option 3: Pairing the right benefits technology with the right technology partner
Progressive benefit consultants are choosing a different path: partnering with a technology firm that can provide the right software solutions for their clients along with full technology service and support.
The right benefits platform
Not all technology is created equal. Each benefits platform is different from the next. The benefits technology landscape is crowded and with so many options, it is essential for to help employers cut through the noise and choose solutions that are the right fit for them.
One of the primary issues employers encounter with benefits technology—and often the source of all this tech regret—is when systems don’t speak to one another. HR is left to hodgepodge workflows from onboarding to payroll to benefits and more, which requires redundant data entry and more manual processes and paperwork.
The right system varies for each company, but the true value for the HR professional comes from systems that can integrate (share data) and automate tasks. Implementing the right benefits platform helps to increase HR capacity and create efficiencies through streamlining and automating manual processes.
The result? Better communication, easier access to information, a greater degree of accuracy and data integrity, and the ability to make data-driven decisions.
The right technology partner
So how do benefit consultants help their clients find the right benefits technology solutions? That’s where the right technology partner comes in. Rather than you trying to do all the legwork yourself to vet various solutions, the right partner will perform a thorough discovery process with your client to assess their needs, challenges, and goals and identify solution(s) that will be the right fit.
With the right solution identified, the right technology partner will also be equipped with the right team of experts to configure, support, and maintain the solution. By setting clear expectations and providing complete transparency around system functionality, possible limitations, and timelines, they will be deliberate in setting up your client for success as they implement and launch the new platform.
When your clients have questions on the benefits technology—and they will—you want them to receive timely, reliable information. Currently, the bar is set so woefully low when it comes to customer service; people expect to have an automated message indicating “longer than average wait time,” or to not get the right answer at all. That’s where you can stand out.
Through working with a trusted partner, benefit consultants can avoid disruption altogether. Partnering with a technology firm allows you to provide your clients with a best-fit, fully-serviced BenAdmin solution – without having to license a platform or dedicate staff to learning, implementing, and maintaining it. You don’t have to worry about being the technical experts, and your clients finally receive the reliable solutions and dedicated support they’ve been looking for.
Let us be your benefits technology team
ebm provides kick-ass client service and best-of-breed software. It’s a win-win-win partnership: you gain access to our toolbox of benefits technology solutions that will set you a step ahead of your competition, your clients gain solutions that are right for their needs along with a dedicated team of benefits technology experts, and we take on all of the service and maintenance of the software.
This is what employers need, and progressive benefit consultants can provide it.
Learn how partnering with ebm for benefits technology can help you attract, win, and retain business: https://getebm.com/brokers/. We have a 95% client retention rate and when clients stick with us, they stick with you.