The pandemic has heightened employer interest in voluntary and non-voluntary benefits

Source: LIMRA Will Employers Make Changes to Workplace Benefits Due to COVID-19? Based on data from May and June 2020

What's the ultimate goal of a hybrid selling process? Creating a customer journey in which technology doesn't replace the traditional knowledge of a financial professional but rather enhances it. It can give you the tools to explain products more clearly, speed service, and makes it easier to access essential information. Hybrid selling should allow customers to move seamlessly back and forth between online self-service and a trusted human interaction as needed. By eliminating lower-value work, it can potentially help a brokerage achieve significant productivity gains. Here are five guiding principles to help you create that kind of customer experience:

1. Have an informed point of view

While brokers may be wary of new Fintech (and Benefits Tech) platforms, their understanding of the insurance industry, deep client knowledge, ability to personally respond to concerns, reinforce advantages, and explain details for clients is an important part of the customer experience that platforms are likely working to match. While you may not be able to crunch numbers or process claims faster than a computer, you can provide sound guidance based on a client’s unique circumstances and draw from your professional knowledge and experience.

2. Commit to continually improving the online customer experience

Technology – and user expectations – are evolving every day. You can assume that no matter how sophisticated your digital customer experience is today, it may be lacking tomorrow. Conversely, if you're currently trailing the competition, a constant improvement mindset may help you leapfrog them sooner than you think. But with so many ways to invest your digital budget, where do you start? Keeping in mind that you're building a hybrid sales process, here are areas of focus to consider that can help create a more compelling customer experience:

  • Digitize formerly in-person presentations, using digital illustrations and tools to inform and sell
  • Adopt electronic aids like e-signatures for keeping the purchase process on-track
  • Use social media creatively to both prospect and create additional engagement touchpoints with existing customers
  • Look to APIs and other technology to streamline processes and personalize communications for clients
  • Invest in a customer management platform to keep track of all interactions with current and potential clients across different channels

3. Provide quick access to an in-person financial professional

User-friendly technology is essential – to a point. When people want real answers, they don't want to start looking around for FAQs or roll-over definitions – and they don't want to talk with a chatbot for anything more than the most basic of requests.1 Interactive voice response and web callback are also likely to leave customers dissatisfied.2  When clients need clarification (or aren't sure what they need), they want to talk to a person as soon as possible. The top 3 most satisfying channels for users3 are:

Speak to a financial professional  97%
Live chat 92%
Call back  87%

Effective implementation of these channels isn't primarily a technology issue. A live chat plug-in is easy to add to your site (if you don't already have one), and the other two communications methods are presumably covered. Channel access is more of a management issue: you need to create processes and workflows that efficiently route client communications – whether they come in by phone, email, text, or paper – to the most relevant person. And, that person has to be empowered to quickly get back to the client with a satisfying answer. But technology still plays a role: to keep track of interactions and create the kind of personalized experience clients now expect, you'll need a customer management platform for any account that has more than a single point of contact.

4. Become an educator

Effective product education has always been an important aspect of selling personal insurance products, and it's even more important in the group insurance realm. At the first sale level, much education about the need for voluntary group benefits will continue to be done personally, in meetings between you and your client. But at the second-sale level, employees need a different kind of education to understand how hospital indemnity insurance can help them, or to differentiate between critical illness and cancer insurance. Most of that education won't be provided with personal communication, so you may want to consider providing access to a full suite of digital presentations, content, and tools to help employees make their choices. That means working with insurers who share a similar commitment to quality employee education and provide access to helpful resources.

5. Make implementation frictionless

In the new hybrid model, it's not enough to be a skilled consultant and educator. You also have to be a doer. There should be no let-down in the relationship when it comes to case implementation. Clients and HR employees are also consumers, and they've grown accustomed to having things they order online appear at their door with a word to their virtual assistant. Once you guide a client to the strategy that is right for them, you should look to  implement their case seamlessly. So take advantage of advanced new AI-driven implementation aids that can help make new business enrollment submissions faster, easier, and more accurate

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