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Keep it per­son­al this enroll­ment season 

How to find the balance between technology and service.

Jack Douglas Headshot

By Jack Douglas, Vice President of Worksite Sales


Some of you probably remember when companies began using Interactive Voice Response (IVR). In theory, this once-amazing technology would identify a caller’s need and quickly send them where they needed to go for help. In practice, it often means long wait times and jumping through annoying hoops before you actually speak to somebody.

I hope I’m not showing my age here.

But the point remains: Despite the challenges that come with using technology correctly, there simply is no going back to “how things were before” once innovation shows us a better way of doing something. The same is true of worksite sales. While the transition to electronic and virtual enrollments was already underway before last spring, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated it exponentially. And now, employers of all sizes have adopted digital methods for their enrollment processes.

Today’s employees want – and deserve – to have it all, but we need to walk a fine line between leveraging new technologies and maintaining the level of service and accessibility that no doubt helped us win the case in the first place. We also must remember what we’re really doing: providing people with a source of stability when they need it most.

Here are a few tips for finding a balance between “digital” and “personal” so we can provide the best enrollment experience possible:

Meet employees “where they are.” What does that mean? While technology continues to streamline the enrollment journey, many employees will still want a guide along the way that can explain the coverage options available to them.

Last year, Assurity acquired an enterprise license to BenSelect, a best-in-class platform. If an employee takes the self-service route, BenSelect provides that guidance so they can make coverage decisions best suited to them and their loved ones. If they’re not ready to go it alone, BenSelect accommodates agent-/enroller-assisted enrollments, too.

Position voluntary as an essential part of the employee benefits plan. Voluntary products are no longer “supplemental” – they have become essential. Give them the attention they deserve in the enrollment education process. Take the time to show them how an accident expense or hospital indemnity plan can help an employee with out-of-pocket expenses not covered by their health plan.

Educate year-round. People can spend an average of 40 hours a year shopping for shoes, yet less than 20 minutes making their benefits choices – often in the last 20 minutes of the enrollment period. You need to communicate the need for coverage with your groups’ employees – not constantly, necessarily, but consistently – so they aren’t overwhelmed by all that information during open enrollments. Assurity’s one-minute educational group product videos are a quick, easy and effective way to do this.

We’ve got to take that education a step further, though. As Eastbridge President Nick Rockwell shared on a recent episode of Focus on Voluntary Benefits, employees need to know not only what coverage options are available to them, but also the value in their coverage – when they can and can’t use it, for example – so they’re prepared when the time comes.

Now more than ever, it’s important to present voluntary benefits as essential. While we’re doing that, we need to remember to “keep it personal.”

Jack Douglas is Vice President of Worksite Sales at Assurity. He leads a team that has been named Voluntary Sales Growth Leader by Eastbridge Consulting Group for three consecutive years. Before joining Assurity in 2020, he held sales, marketing and development roles with Allstate Benefits and Colonial Life. Follow Jack on LinkedIn.