Five things CEOs should know about the latest benefits platform technology   

As in so many areas of business, technology is radically transforming the benefits platform landscape. But there’s good technology and there’s bad technology. Seamless technology and non-integrated technology. Essential, intuitive technology and bells-and-whistles technology.

You get the idea. The key is to find the right technology. Here are five of the latest developments to keep an eye on:

  1. Integration = efficiency. The right benefits platform technology includes such things as ACA compliance and private exchange capabilities. Keeping up with ACA-driven rules and regulations is a massive chore all by itself for any size company, and these changes affect countless aspects of benefits administration. Thus it is best for both to be administered on the same platform. Capabilities often associated with private exchanges, such as defined contribution and employee support tools, will bolster your benefit strategies today and in the future.
  1. Communication is key. Benefits platform technology must now have smart communication capabilities baked into it. As the ACA and other external forces continue to change the world of employee benefits, it becomes ever more vital that businesses keep their employees up to speed on their benefit options via their employees’ preferred communications channels. Case in point: A recent workplace survey found that when employees received benefits communications through their preferred channels (i.e., email, web, mobile, etc.), 70 percent were very confident in their selections. When employees didn’t receive benefits communications through their preferred channels, less than 40 percent were very confident in their selections.
  1. Optimizing the user experience. Gone are the days when employees accessed their benefits exclusively by mail, interoffice memo or an HR benefits fair. Today employees expect to be able to instantly access their benefit options, health savings account, 401k balance, and this month’s wellness incentive via the same platform anytime, anywhere, and on any device.
  1. Emulating the “Amazon Effect.” When an employee accesses his or her benefits — via phone, tablet, desktop, laptop, or watch — he or she then expects a retail-like experience akin to ordering a book on Amazon or browsing rug styles at Overstock.com. Similarly, benefits technology must now include capabilities such as easy-to-use cost-comparison and decision-support tools. These user-friendly tools help customers make the right benefits choices that suit their needs, budget, and lifestyle.
  1. Tailored human engagement has reached a new level. To retain the still-important human factor in an increasingly self-service tech world, leading-edge technology partners are now employing customer service avatars and other voice recognition capabilities.

    The best of these provide targeted, real-time, in-depth answers to questions that customers are actually asking. Using voice or text, human avatars guide consumers through the decision-making process. This improves customer trust, engagement, and brand loyalty — just as “live” customer service always has.

Kismet Toksu is president of eBenefits Solutions in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.