In today’s business world, it seems like everyone is just trying to outdo one another. Large corporations make the small guys’ jobs a lot harder, marketing lingo turns skeptics into believers and it can feel as though the customer’s voice gets lost.
For small businesses, the power of relationships in the mess of it all is truly irreplaceable. One such relationship that many rely on is that of their benefits broker, like Bouchey & Clarke. This New York based firm specializes in group insurance, alternative funding arrangements, custom plan designs, compliance, benefit administration and customized employee communication and education.
I spoke to President and COO, John Millet, about what they do differently to make a positive impact on their clients. Here’s his advice.
“With all the legislative changes and regulatory changes, I think it’s a challenge for every client to stay on top of things,” said Millet.
Over the last few years, the one piece of legislation that’s raised the most questions is health care reform, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Employers have a number of responsibilities when it comes to ACA compliance and as the law continues to waver in that area of uncertainty, education plays a huge role for benefits brokers.
“Clients, just like all of us, are inundated with emails and information and it does become a challenge of making sure the relevant information is getting to the appropriate individuals at the appropriate time,” explained Millet.
Every day is different in the world of health insurance so sifting through that information to help clients make informed decisions is a difficult, yet necessary undertaking.
Not only that, but helping clients control the costs of rising health care forces brokers to get a bit more creative. Millet explained that they’ve seen a move towards the defined contribution approach and sometimes incorporating private exchange technology. Employers that have a diverse workforce want to move away from trying to pick a plan that’s right for everyone and move to a model where that allows employees to “right-size” their benefits to their individual needs. By staying on top of these trends and continually educating themselves, the brokers at Bouchey & Clarke are able to accommodate those clients’ needs.
Help your clients (and yourself) break through the world of information overload by scheduling some face time. Like most things in life, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to communication. People process information differently, but there really is no substitute for having an in-person conversation.
“One of the things that we really strive to do is be in front of our clients. We try to conduct quarterly reviews with our client’s. We use these opportunities, not just during renewal time, but throughout the year, to discuss what’s happening in the marketplace, what’s happening in legislation and also what’s happening with their business,” said Millet.
It’s so easy to get complacent in your daily methods of communication where convenience reigns supreme. But just like you would meet with a potential new client by seeing them in person, why not treat your current clients the same way? This will give you the opportunity to really understand their level of satisfaction, make possible improvements and even a chance to upsell.
“I think clients have such a variety of needs. We certainly have made the decision as an agency, really to stick to the things that we excel at, that we're experts at,” explained Millet. “Our belief is to find partners who are like-minded, and we think best in class, to partner with to help bring additional resources to our clients.”
By fostering these partnerships, Bouchey & Clarke is able to provide the best possible, well-rounded service to their clients. As Millet explained, their firm brings a strong financial element to their clients by doing financial analyses and modeling. Some compliance areas, with ERISA and HSAs, is where they incorporate the expertise of their partners.
“I think what we feel is by having PrimePay as a partner, we’ve got additional tools in our toolkit. We’re confident as we step into any situation that we’ve got the appropriate tools to meet the needs of the client or prospect,” said Millet.
In today’s age of the benefits broker you’ve got to be able to offer so many things to clients. By implementing the ideas outlined above, Bouchey & Clarke is able to do this, while keeping clients compliant and most of all…happy.
To learn more about the Bouchey & Clarke agency, click here.
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