Welcome back from spring break! Earlier this week, I shared with you the first two of four common goals employers have when looking for benefits administration systems. You can read about the first two goals (the desire for one system and the ability to customize) here if you missed them. I know you are all dying to know the other two, so I won’t beat around the bush any longer. Here they are!
Common Goal #3 – Ease of use for employees
– This has gotten a lot better recently. Benefitfocus really challenged the industry with their great user experience four years ago. By now, a lot of other vendors have caught up to them – but since this is a huge part of Benefitfocus’ identity in the market, they continue to prioritize resources for design and technology. Even the most traditional firms are catching the ease-of-use bandwagon. The current ADP’s Workforce Now and Vantage products have improved their user interface considerably from previous versions where enrollment events were confusing or intimidating for employees. They’ve also invested heavily into UX (User Experience) with a swanky and gritty Innovation Lab in New York’s Silicon Alley. The programmers and other hipsters are transforming ADP’s HR Tech for mobile and the Millennial consumer at a breakneck speed.
– To help you evaluate a vendor’s efforts, the use of video, avatars, and decision support are three areas where vendors are differentiating from each other. For example, if voluntary products are part of your offering, pay attention to how those last three innovation areas are able to support them. Will decision support cover both core benefits and voluntary?
Common Goal #4 – Customer service
– This has been the most frustrating aspect of the Benefits Administration space. Service has continued to be negotiated out of our industry (credit for this fantastic insight and turn of phrase goes to our friend, the infamous Rhonda Marcucci). In addition, a lot of the victims in the merger and acquisition war have been some of the best servicers in our industry (SHPS, Aliquant, Workscape, etc.). Alas, good soldiers all – too bad that overly good service makes it difficult for a business model to succeed! That being said, we’ve seen some vendors aggressively address this with either fees at risk or even more innovative methods. We have one national vendor that agreed to offer all Lockton clients a segmented implementation and service team to improve our customers’ consistency of service. Other vendors are also very responsive to Lockton’s agitation as we have a sizeable book of business with each.
– We feel the best vendors are willing to put Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in place to help their clients rest easy after contracts are signed. Not everyone is able to do this, but it’s certainly a way to objectify a subjective process. Speaking of subjective, there are even a couple vendors who do away with many of the technically measured SLAs and just focus on customer satisfaction. It’s an up or down vote and it controls at least 2% of fees paid. That certainly won’t bankrupt anyone, but it does show a willingness to put customers’ satisfaction above profit margin and that is a beautiful sight in our book. Give us a holler if you’d like to have some recommendations in this area of the vendor landscape as it changes frequently!
How do these goals differ from your organization’s when looking at replacing your benefits administration system? Did we channel your inner frustrations – or do you have some unique needs not captured here? Please share by commenting below. Please follow me on Twitter @HRTechKaiser for more insights and the latest news in everything HR Techie!