Every year, it costs more to convert fewer health insurance prospects. The current approach to open enrollment isn’t sustainable. Luckily for payers, the status quo isn’t the only option.
There is a better way to drive more health insurance conversions at a lower cost than current conventional processes. It requires some disruption to the ways things have traditionally been done. Changes made to associate staffing, training, and licensing can alleviate inefficiencies and allow associates to focus on what they do best while deflecting other communication elsewhere.
A Smart Seasonal open enrollment strategy combines people, process, and technology with a disruptive way to approach the open enrollment periods. Here are four ways to reimagine open enrollment:
1. Find the right labor mix
The demand for workers in the U.S. is at critical levels. Higher hourly wages are required to attract and retain the onshore talent needed to meet open enrollment service levels. With unemployment below 4 percent and hourly wage growth up 19 percent in the past six years, it’s hard to find and keep good labor without investing in them.
Yes, licensed onshore associates are required, but not for everything. The right combination of markets and staffing structure can meet the labor challenge and optimize results.
It’s possible to remove some of the burden from onshore licensed associates by deploying lower-cost, offshore resources and self-service for simple service inquiries that do not require a license. These associates can manage a large portion of calls and can qualify true sales inquiries that are then sent to licensed, U.S. employees.
In addition, create a hybrid model of brick-and-mortar and @home associates in the U.S. Retain these associates all year, to reduce annual ramp and training requirements and improve knowledge and expertise.
Home-based workers aren’t constrained by geography and are more likely to be interested in a flexible schedule, working full time during open enrolment periods and part time the rest of the year. They are more likely to become experts and more effectively drive conversions.
The right labor mix will result in lower overall labor costs, engaged associates, improved workforce flexibility, reduced ramp costs, and higher sales conversions.
2. Invest in an optimal people strategy
The secret weapon of any company is its people. The best people provide the best member experiences. That’s why it’s important to invest strategically in the right wage structure and engagement approach to lower attrition and deliver higher performance.
A Smart Seasonal approach recommends investing in higher wages for U.S.-based, licensed associates. It will be a tighter, nimbler group of employees who are focused on complex sales-related interactions. Higher wages will attract and retain high performers, saving costs in the long run on talent acquisition and training.
So what’s the correct wage range? It’s different for each company, based on multiple factors like geography, competition, and even job level stress. Our healthcare experts work with individual payers to help determine the wage sweet spot for each situation.
In addition to wages, we recommend health insurers execute an integrated engagement strategy for onshore, offshore, and @Home workers. It should be a holistic approach to the member experience, not siloed groups working on their own.
Finally, a good people strategy is always evolving. Investment in digital learning and continuous improvement will keep employees engaged the challenged. From AI-powered training scenarios to career-path courses, these seemingly simple programs will go a long way to make your workforce more effective through reduced associate attrition, improved employee NPS, and accelerated speed-to-proficiency.
3. Empower associates to drive conversions
The right tools and processes can supercharge open enrollment outcomes. For example, call flows can be modified to focus on conversions, scripts can be regularly updated based on call history insights, and real-time sales coaching can leverage analytics and 360-degree associate understanding to boost strong skills and improve weak ones.
4. Implement technology to accelerate results
While associates ARE the experience, the right technology removes friction from both sides of the interaction.
For members, customized quote microsites can help steer open enrollment inquiries to self-service tools at the outset, reducing the stress on live associates. Members are greeted with a site that includes a sales associate’s photo and contact information, as well as details about insurance plans discussed and instructions for signing up.
In addition, co-browse and omnichannel capabilities empower consumers in their chosen channel. And call-back assist tools shorten customer wait times and improve NPS. During peak call volumes, callers have the option to hang up and receive a callback when an associate becomes available, in the same order that the original call was received.
For associates, insight from voice analytics helps to refine interactions and deliver improved outcomes. AI and machine learning tools for associates can put knowledgebase information in the associate’s hands in real time to drive CX and efficiency. And AI learning program use bots for digital, simulated learning in a gamified environment.
This mix of human and digital technology creates a perfect balance of positive member experience and streamlined operations.
Learn more about how to deploy these and other aspects of a Smart Seasonal open enrollment strategy by downloading the white paper, Open Enrollment: A Smart-Seasonal Approach Beats Conversion Targets.