With all the talk of the metaverse and self-driving cars and smart homes, it’s easy to feel like human experiences are being replaced by technology. And while technology certainly can make our lives simpler, it shouldn’t feel cold or disconnected. When it comes to insurance, technology can improve important processes, such as benefits administration, but it’s critical that the tools are developed with people in mind.
“Ultimately, the benchmark for successful technology comes down to whether it’s helping the humans in an organization do what they need to do,” wrote Dan Higgins and Nicola Morini Bianzino in the Harvard Business Review. As plan administrators dealing with new hires, terminations and changes to employee coverages, you need tools that allow you to support your employees during important life events. Being able to do so with ease and confidence is critical to your success – and their well-being.
That’s what makes the human element of technology so important. Benefits technology needs to be designed so plan administers can save time, employees can take advantage of their protections and employers can fulfill the promises they made when they chose to offer those benefits.
“Benefits are about people. It’s all about helping people. Benefits are too important to be complicated,” said Tim Arnold, president of Colonial Life.
Take paying bills, for example. Reviewing invoices, checking to see that recent employee changes are reflected on your bill, making those changes and then waiting on the revised premium can be time-consuming. And that’s before involving another department responsible for issuing checks. Streamlining this process for organizations of all sizes will save time, reduce errors and ensure employees never experience lapses in coverage.
With that in mind, Colonial Life looked at their online benefits admin tools, including the Colonial Life for Clients portal, and implemented real-time invoice reconciliation, which is a fancy way of saying: you can make employee changes directly in your online invoice, see your updated premium right away and then pay right in the portal. No one knows your organization better than you do, so your involvement is critical. And if an issue does arise, or assistance is needed, there’s always a member of our team at the other end of the phone who can listen to your question, understand your needs and point you in the right direction.
Not everyone shares the same comfort level with technology, which is why designing tools with all users in mind allows everyone to get the most out of their experience. Higgins and Bianzino wrote, “technology should remove friction and allow people to do their jobs.” When benefits providers are designing their tools, they need to, as Higgins and Bianzino put it, “put the needs of people at the center of strategy and decision-making.”
“When our clients go online,” Tim Arnold said, “they should feel empowered. They should feel supported. They should feel comfortable. Anything short of that, we have more work to do.”
While jetpacks and virtual reality are certainly in someone’s future, the future of benefits is less about flying and more about simplifying. Designing tools with our clients in mind – to save them time, make their jobs easier and allow them to spend more time with their employees – is why our clients who go online have some of our highest customer satisfaction scores.