Technology is present in so many ways in our daily lives that we sometimes lose sight of it. All of us are touched by technology in some form or another: in our personal lives, at work, in dealing with the authorities, etc. Its use is everywhere. Most visibly, phones are becoming increasingly “smart” and social networks such as Facebook are fundamentally changing the ways that people stay connected.
Various industries are also incorporating technology into their businesses, in most cases with their own characteristics. However, we can identify two broad areas where technology is used, although using one does not rule out the other:
- In customer interactions: using technology to facilitate or increase sales, to stay (or at least try to stay) at the top of customers’ minds, to inform and provide customers with product or service overviews or choices, or to provide customers with greater convenience or create unique experiences.
- As a way of working: to increase efficiency and reduce costs, and to facilitate different working preferences, such as remote working and collaborating.
No businesses are immune from today’s rapid and relentless shifts in technology. This applies equally to classical retail businesses and to sophisticated service providers. Even in academia, top-end universities are using technology to facilitate recruitment, teaching and research.
However, although different businesses target different groups of people, the needs within these sub-groups remain substantially different. The “one size fits all” model is never the answer: there are simply too many differences between industries and within customer segments. Even within one industry and customer segment, there are ongoing changes that require constant adaptation to fit the current situation.
What does this mean for the employee benefits sector?
The insurance industry, and in particular the employee benefits sector, is naturally included in this phenomenon.
First of all, for employee benefit businesses, there are two key areas that need to be looked at when reflecting how best to incorporate new technology to assist our clients. These areas focus on the needs of the employer or company, and also on those of the employees or plan members.
Technology can support both in various ways, as well as having a particularly valuable role to play in the exchange between the two:
Simplifying work for employers
Many tasks consume time and resources for employers when setting up and maintaining an employee benefit scheme. More and more companies are looking to tools and platforms that allow them to “self serve”. Technology has played and will continue to play a crucial role in making this a reality and simplifying administrative tasks, such as the enrolment of plan members, keeping data up to date, employee communications, etc.
Providing convenience for employees
Employees have different needs. What is important to them is timely access to their plan information, and the ease of making changes to their investments when necessary, for example. Such expectations have been fuelled by their experiences in the retail sector.
Secondly, the technology used by solution providers can also meet new expectations when it comes to services that offer additional value to customers. These can include:
- Easy claims processes, such as paperless claims submission
- Connection across the world (between employers and employees)
- Anytime access to information
- Education on benefits and its impact on employees
- Automated processes
In addition, technology also “forces” solution providers to become more efficient and to examine their businesses more carefully, from product design to processes to services, so as to stay ahead of competition. Due to customers’ increased expectations, such competition will eventually lead to enhanced product and service offerings as well as to more attractive pricing. The beneficiary is always the customer.
Technology adoption in the Swiss Life Network
In the Swiss Life Network, we see the adoption of new technology as crucial to the satisfaction of our customers. There are two key elements that we are focusing on:
- Networking on all levels, with clients as well as between Network Partners. Interconnectivity is what binds the Network closely together. We connect employers with their employees, employers and employees with solution providers, and our various Network Partners with one another.
- Services that bring additional value to clients. This is an important element of our value proposition, and includes services such as online and on-the-go services for employees, and comprehensive database access for employers and partners.
Some of our Network Partners are at the technology forefront in their respective countries. This issue of the Newsletter will share just a few illustrations of what they are doing:
- In Canada, Great-West Life enables plan members to submit healthcare claims directly from their smartphones;
- In Chile, Cruz del Sur shortens the reimbursement process through using a variety of technology platforms;
- In Denmark, PFA Pension has created a fun and interactive platform for people to easily relate to pension matters;
- In Switzerland, Swiss Life has launched a platform for small businesses to do everything benefits-related online.
No matter how powerful technology is today, or how much more powerful it becomes in future, we believe that its adoption will only be meaningful and successful when we use it to support our customers and match their needs. This is our guiding principle, not only in technology adoption and implementation, but also in all other business areas. We are in a people business. It is the people behind the sophisticated systems that make them work, and no matter how advanced technology becomes, people will always be the most important element in our world.
Swiss Life International Marketing and Communications
Marketing and Communications Swiss Life Ltd - General-Guisan-Quai 40 - P.O. Box - 8022 Zurich - Switzerland - Tel.: +41 43 284 77 77