I was in a meeting about a month ago with a broker and we were talking about business when he mentioned how he was always paying attention to outcomes. It got me thinking about how sometimes when you wander through life or business you tend to take your eye off the ball. You do things and go through the motions and forget about what the objective is to whatever action you are taking. What is the expected or desired outcome of your action?
In my business we help brokers and their customers find and implement technology to simplify the administration and communication of the HR and Benefits. What I am finding is that the utilization of technology in the HR area is not much different than in many other areas. The technology is under-utilized and the desired outcomes are often not met. There is an opportunity for a third-party to help these employers make a difference. And those that provide this type of results based support will reap the benefits.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How many employees really understand their benefits?
- Do employees know what products like critical illness or voluntary disability are?
- How many employees are properly insured?
- Should an employee pay off their credit card first or buy the right amount of Life Insurance?
- Should an employee buy a lower deductible for health insurance before buying the right amount of disability?
The internet and use of mobile devices creates an opportunity for third-parties like insurance companies or benefits brokers to reach a large group of people in an easier way. The internet can effectively be used to educate people and provide information on demand. Yet, for the most part, this does not happen in the benefits industry because few carriers or brokers have recognized that this is their job and therefore have not developed the capability to engage the employee in an effective way via the web and mobile.
I am often told by brokers that they are not technologists. Any broker that has heard me speak about technology will have heard me say that technology is just a tool to solve a business problem. Benefits brokers have been in the business of helping employers enroll their employees in benefits and communicate benefits. Now that these things are done via the web does not absolve them of their responsibility.
I remind them that understanding the tools of your profession is your business. My analogy is that if I hire a realtor to sell my house that realtor needs to know how to take pictures of my house and upload those pictures to the web to sell my house. That does not make my realtor a technologist or a photographer. It makes my realtor a better realtor. The same goes for a benefits broker. Understanding the technologies impacting your business makes you a better broker. It doesn’t make you a technologist. In my opinion the failure of brokers to realize this has been a major part of the problem.
Many brokers are too focused on making themselves “sticky” with the client using technology. I have a broker a week looking for a technology solution where if the client were to fire them they could turn off the technology. In my opinion trying to “tie” the client to your firm with technology is not in the best interest of the client. It certainly does not pass the test of being a trusted advisor. Other brokers will point out your motives. I believe there is an opportunity is to do something special so your clients won’t leave you and it does not require you to tie them to you with some technology. This strategy often results in the broker being tied to some technology vendor with some big financial obligation.
I laid out a vision of what is possible by leveraging technology in my article titled, “What Would Steve Jobs Do If He Were a Benefits Broker Today?” See my article here: https://joemarkland.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/what-would-steve-jobs-do-if-he-were-a-benefits-broker-today/ . The technology is available today to make the administration and communication of HR and Benefits much better. The problem is that most employers either don’t have the capacity, capability, or the vision to deploy technology in a way where the outcomes are at a minimum desired, but at a maximum, awesome. They need help. Those that help the client in this area with the client’s best interests in mind will find that they will win more business. You can make a difference with technology in 2015.