Why offering clients only one benefits administration technology platform isn’t enough
Would you ever walk into a client’s office during renewal and state: “Big Carrier A is all you need because they cover all of the lines you need”?
Of course not!
Valuable benefits consultants assess, shop, and deliver the best products at the best price across multiple carriers. In other words, they offer a custom, tailored solution. This is your value proposition as a employee benefits professional, and why clients trust you.
So why wouldn’t you take this approach when offering clients or prospects a major benefits administration technology offering?
Don’t limit yourself and your clients. Focus on providing them with the best benefits experience possible, and allow benefits technology experts to drive recommendations for client tech needs.
The benefits consultant’s dilemma
Benefits consultants increasingly feel pressure to offer their clients a technology solution—any technology solution. As a result, some firms do their own technology research, invest in a product, and encourage their clients to adopt that solution.
Based on what we’ve learned from the firms who have done this (somewhat) successfully:
- The firm spends at least $10–200k per year, depending on the solution.
- The solution requires a full-time employee who becomes the subject-matter expert on that solution.
Because of this, firms can generally only afford to invest in one technology solution.
Once the firm has invested in this technology, consultants bring it to their meetings. They hope to hook prospects and retain clients by checking the tech box. Because the agency has to generate a return on their investment, they push clients onto that platform even if it isn’t the right fit.
Although the goal was to create a value-add by offering clients a benefits technology solution, adding a software product to the offer brings new challenges:
- The firm now has an additional burden that drains time and resources—and adds a deficit to their bottom line.
- The employers they work with are limited to one solution.
It sends the wrong message to prospects and clients
By offering only one technology solution, the message you’re sending to prospects and clients is:
- We don’t have a solution based on your needs, just based on what we have decided to use.
- No matter your size, demographics, or the complexity of your benefits offering – this is what we have. We have to make this work.
- This is your only option if you work with us.
This is not the message you want to send to employers. You won’t attract or retain with this messaging. Tech solutions should fit your clients, not the other way around.
Client satisfaction hinges on one internal resource
Ongoing support and maintenance are key for a successful benefits administration technology solution. The expectation is for the broker to support and manage the technology solution for the client.
Unless the firm already has an experienced specialist on staff, they’ll need to either hire a subject-matter expert (SME) or train an Account Manager or other existing resource who will be the primary contact for handling all client tech issues. This is costly and hard to pull off.
The SME needs to have:
- Technical ability. They need to be familiar with the specific software solution for implementation, training, and ongoing support. Not to mention the expertise to build and maintain EDI files, payroll connections, and other integrations.
- Benefits knowledge. This might require time and training investment on the part of the firm, and will often require a benefits expert to guide and check the employee’s work (which is an additional burden on the current team).
- Commitment and drive to serving clients. Their workload will fluctuate, but will always be stressful during the fourth quarter.
- Loyalty to the agency. The SME holds the keys to the product and entire tech experience, making them a constant flight risk. If they’re awesome at their job, other firms want them; if they can’t handle the pressure, they’re looking for work elsewhere. If a firm ever loses someone in this key position during OE season (or any other time of year for that matter), they will almost surely lose clients and will never want to repeat that experience again.
- Great customer service. This person has a major responsibility within the agency for client retention, but is often chosen primarily based on their technology background. A bad experience with this employee equates to a bad experience with the firm.
Ultimately, the SME’s limitations become the firm’s limitations. Don’t risk your business on one employee.
Secure and build your book by offering best-of-breed benefits administration technology
You are a benefits expert—so focus on being awesome at it! ebm is a team of benefits technology experts. We make it easy for you to deliver a variety of technology solutions to your clients. We take the burden off of your shoulders by serving as your benefits technology team.
When you work with ebm, we perform a full assessment with your clients to deliver exactly what they need. We offer a variety of best-of-breed benefits technology solutions and manage the implementation, ongoing maintenance, service and support. Our reputation relies on your success.