Bridging the Service Gap with Technology

WHAT SERVICES EMPLOYERS WANT MOST FROM BROKERS IS NOT NECESSARILY WHAT THEY ARE GETTING

Each year, Zywave sends a survey to employers asking what they are looking for from an insurance broker. The results of the survey provide valuable insight into the constantly evolving broker-client relationship. Further, the insights from the survey provide brokers with a sort of roadmap for how to drive retention and growth through the execution of strategic and meaningful service offerings to clients. This year, we surveyed nearly 1,000 employers, representing a range of industries and sizes across the country.

Each annual survey yields distinct results and noteworthy findings that represent the changing marketplace and evolving client needs, but we continue to see one particular trend year after year: A growing number of employers’ expectations are not being met by their current broker. Whether those expectations are demands or desires, there is a notable disparity between what’s being asked for and what’s being received.

The discrepancy between employer demand and broker supply is particularly important during renewal season. Here’s why: Renewal season for one broker is prospecting season for another. The downside to this concept is that if a broker isn’t currently providing the services that his or her clients need and want, it makes it that much easier for a competitor to pilfer the business. Simply put, relationships (a key component to driving retention) are at risk. The upside to this, however, is that it also creates opportunity for prospecting. If a broker has the ability to meet an employer’s needs (and can demonstrate and deliver on it), his or her chances of winning new business improve.

KEY FINDINGS

Depending on whether a broker provides some of the services below, these findings will expose possible threats to a broker’s book or reveal potential areas for strategic prospecting.

The Service Gap

Whether employers are looking for a strategic benefit plan or wellness resources, nearly half aren’t getting what they want from their broker.

Most In-Demand Services

Brokers should ask themselves if they are meeting these demands for clients. Given the significance of providing compliance-related resources, guidance and information, it’s almost non-negotiable as a service offering.

• 98% of employers say it important that a broker provide legislative updates and guidance.

• 97% of employers say it’s important that a broker answer compliance-related questions.

Communication

Up from 68% in 2015, nearly three out of four employers want to hear from their broker at least monthly.

FINAL THOUGHTS

One particular piece of data from the 2016 survey results can be used to sum up an important and somewhat obvious theme to all of the findings: More than 80% of employers are looking for a trusted advisor rather than an insurance salesperson. Gone are the days when quoting plans and providing some assistance with billing and claims issues was enough to win–and keep–a client.

A challenge that many brokers face, even if they are aware of the service gap, is how to keep up with increasing client demands, particularly as they relate to providing complex, compliance-related service offerings, and staying on top of consistent and relevant communication. Brokers who are leading the way in bridging the service gap–those who are winning new accounts and raising exit barriers around current clients–are leveraging the power and efficiency of various technology platforms.

Feeling the squeeze of resource constraints, simply given the sheer volume of work, is nothing new to a benefits broker. As such, it’s critical that time and money are being invested where it counts the most. As part of 2016 year-end and 2017 strategic planning, brokerages should make a deliberate effort to determine the most significant gaps within their own service offerings and then explore which technology platforms can fill those gaps in a way that will yield the most return.

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