How to help clients expand benefits with technology

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One of the key advantages of benefits administration software is that it removes the administrative costs associated with offering more lines of coverage.

Many mistakenly think it is hard-dollar costs that keep small- to mid-sized employers from offering broader, more competitive benefit packages, but many products can be offered at little-to-no cost to the employer.

Rather, what keeps most small employers from adding lines of coverage, and competing more effectively with larger organizations, is the paperwork. From tracking elections, integrating with payroll, managing billing and more, many organizations don’t have the staffing power to handle the administrative burden that a broader benefit package would create.

But benefit software reduces the burden associated with increased voluntary options. Software cuts the paperwork and makes it easier for employees to evaluate their options and enroll in coverage.

This allows employers to better compete for talent. Employees feel taken care of, and brokers see increased ancillary revenue. It’s a win all around.

Best practices
Here is some tried-and-true advice on helping clients expand their benefits packages with technology.

New platform? Focus on a positive implementation. If this is your first year with a new platform, don’t immediately try to add new lines of coverage. Focus on a smooth roll-out instead, and help your clients enroll in their existing medical and ancillary options.

Why should you wait? As most brokers know, your clients have a limited amount of time blocked off for “benefits stuff.” If you are introducing something new, whether it’s software or lines of coverage, there will be a hard stop on how much time and energy your clients are willing to invest.

The advantages of benefits software are long-term. You will see the benefits for years to come, but key to that strategy is client buy-in. In other words, you want your clients to have a great experience in their first year. Spend any additional “benefits time” your clients have on training and supporting the new tool.

This isn’t a huge task – most systems are user-friendly by design – but it is an important step.

What gets a lot of brokers online is the idea of using software as a competitive differentiator with prospects. This is certainly a benefit, but another important road to your return on investment is maximizing ancillary options with existing clients.

If you implemented your platform with clients last year, by all means, propose a benefits expansion during this year’s open enrollment.

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Not only does this boost revenue in the short-term, it creates “stickiness” with the client. Your role in growing their benefits package and its effective management will be another reason your client wants to stay with you.

When introducing a new line of coverage, explain clearly how a more competitive benefits package will be an asset to your client’s recruitment and retention effort.

Help your clients determine which additional options are most wanted by employees, and illustrate the low or negligible hard dollar cost. Demonstrate the ease of adding lines of coverage with their online benefits platform.

Next, utilize the platform to effectively communicate the benefit and why employees would want to sign up. For many ancillary items, there is a significant knowledge gap. Benefits software can help educate, which leads to higher participation rates.

However, don’t try to add five lines of coverage at once. You may be visualizing the potential revenue associated with a full suite of ancillary benefits, but don’t try to accomplish this vision all at once.

The return on investment with a benefits platform is a multi-year process, and rushing the expansion won’t result in more revenue than spreading the expansion over two or more years.

Why is that? Again, clients have only allotted so much time to “benefits stuff.” Employees have allotted even less. As you already know, employees are going to spend a very small amount of time and energy to learn about new benefit offerings. Even if they are offered three, four or five new lines of coverage, chances are that they will only elect one new option anyway.

So pick the benefit your client’s employees want most. In certain cases, two lines could be effective in the second year. But only add one or two news lines at a time.

The road to helping your clients compete with large employers on benefits generally stretches over a few years when executed most effectively. You won’t accomplish the expansion in one year, so take your time and track measurable growth as you go.

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