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The new reality of client engagement

Here are some suggestions on how you can approach future enrollments with optimism and better understand the client’s perspective.

Virtual client engagement is no longer a thing of the past.

Managing accounts virtually is a very present reality when it comes to how we in the Insurance industry conduct business today. Because of this, it has become imperative that companies master this virtual learning curve faster than ever before. The whole world is adapting, learning new strategies for every new situation. Many of our valued clients find themselves in triage mode, meaning open enrollments were extremely different last year and will continue to change going forward.

Due to this shift in our marketplace, we are seeing the following changes:
  • Scaling down of benefits

  • Value-added services or additional compliment offerings

  • More tactic-based audiences

Below are some suggestions on how you can approach future enrollments with optimism and better understand the client’s perspective.
  • Reframe or rebrand open enrollment by changing your language. Use words that create client opportunity. We have traditionally used words like “requirements” and “mandatory,” creating a burdensome sense of obligation. Given all the shifts our clients are faced with today, these may be perceived as negative tones during future enrollments.

  • Help the customer consider multiple choices. There are a variety of plans that may meet their personal needs. There may be changes in the household or mindset shifts around COVID-19. Keep in mind possible changes in family dynamics, including new babies, upcoming surgeries, or even a COVID-19 diagnosis.

  • Sharpen your skills around HDHP, PPO, and HMO conversations. Particularly with the younger generation, bring as much clarity as possible about these plans and discuss what’s best for them and their families.

  • Consider reintroducing voluntary benefits. Some employees may opt-out due to panic and financial strain. Some may need to be reeducated on the benefits of these ancillary plans in the context of their own lives.

Once you have established any or all of these new methods, understanding how we can engage and create a solid virtual enrollment strategy is paramount. Below are some best practices for creating a virtual remote enrollment that’s fresh and exciting, bringing a new perspective on client engagement.

Keep in mind that virtual open enrollments can save time and money. You can be in multiple offices, cities and states all in one day, engaging twice as many employees in this new virtual environment.

  1. Conduct short virtual benefit meetings. Even in the age of COVID, benefits fair-style events are still possible with a little creativity and planning.

  2. Use breakout rooms for video conferencing. Break-out rooms allow attendees to speak with specific vendors one on one. Think of each room as a “table” in a benefits fair.

  3. Host multiple short presentations on specific topics. This enables employees to join the session relevant for them. Keep it short and impactful – 30 minutes max (to avoid video fatigue).

  4. Use an auto-scheduler. This allows employees to easily book certain time slots with you or your team members. Encourage the use of telephone, video conferencing (like Zoom) chat software (like Slack), or email. Promote your team’s availability via SMS, email, intranet, and meetings.

  5. Make recordings available for review or non-attenders.

    1. Make a quick demo for any potentially confusing parts of the meeting

    2. Leave plenty of time for questions

    3. Host virtual office hours and post FAQs

    4. Aim for no more than 12-15 questions.

    5. Phrase questions and answers in a conversational tone.

    6. Address COVID-related coverage and concerns.

    7. Create a texting campaign to keep employees on track

    8. Open rates for texting is 90% vs emails at 20%

    9. Be more strategic about using email

    10. Attach additional data for Open Enrollment.

    11. Provide open enrollment FAQ sheets or checklists

The most important thing is to communicate hard news with intent, empathy, and transparency. Any adjustments to plan designs, rates, and potential company changes must be fully fleshed out and presented to customers. Your clients will appreciate your care, attention, and understanding during these unique times.

When every client you work with during an enrollment is handled carefully and efficiently, your new policyholders are more likely to stick with you for the long haul — and you’ll promptly be rewarded for the investment of your time.

Lisa Hutcherson is known for building teams and developing strong long-term client relationships. She has served as a contributing member of Aflac’s National Advisory Board, the Sacramento Association of Health Underwriters Executive Board and is a John Maxwell Certified trainer, coach, and speaker.

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