This blog will look at why an enrollment and administration platform is superior to a software solution for most applications – and how it’s effective in creating a great customer experience.
Those of us who work around the edges of the insurance and benefits industry are used to our jobs being difficult to explain to outsiders. The insurance lexicon is already overcrowded with complex insider vocabulary words, and each word tends to have a unique meaning based on the audience you’re addressing. When you lump those in with the technical terminology, it gets really confusing (and probably boring) for the layman.
That’s why I tend to forgive people who jump to the conclusion that Genius Avenue is a software provider. After all, our product is partly based on a proprietary software solution, but the technology is actually a very small portion of what we do.
We combine that proprietary enrollment and administration system with our fully integrated payment processing solution, web hosting, and USA-based support teams, including customer service, marketing, and billing and collections. This allows us to provide a full service, turn-key platform that can empower sales, enrollment, and administration for any insurance or benefit product, brokerage, or association.
Genius Avenue’s integrated platform solutions are a prime example of the adage, “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.”
What is a platform?
We’re throwing the word “platform” around quite a bit in this article… and to be fair, we tend to write about platforms A LOT. So, let’s take a moment and talk about what a platform is – and isn’t – as well as what it does.
The definition of a platform, according to Platform Revolution by Parker, Alstyne and Choudary, is “a business model that uses technology to connect people, organizations, and resources in an interactive ecosystem in which amazing amounts of value can be created and exchanged.”
Here’s an even simpler definition: A platform is a technology that empowers connections. Platforms are ubiquitous. You probably already used two or three this morning and may be using one to read this blog. Amazon, eBay, Apple, Google, Airbnb, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Lyft are all platforms.
While that seems easy to grasp, there are common misconceptions about platforms that can lead to misnomers, misunderstandings, failed initiatives, and bad investments.
What a platform is not:
It isn’t software.
Software is a task-oriented set of digital tools.
Software companies love to call their applications “platforms”, but they’re really only a single component of the broader technology ecosystem needed to create a thriving platform business.
While your email software application can connect brokers with groups, it’s only one small part of the communication needed to create a transaction.
The biggest offenders are the eCommerce software programs. They DO empower and enable sales, but they shouldn’t be mistaken for true platforms.
No single software investment will scale your business like a true platform can.
It isn’t a “solution”.
Technology “solutions” are a set of software tools or related services that are sold as a single problem-solving package. (Think Enterprise Resource Planning and Human Resource Management systems.)
Essentially, solutions are just big software systems designed to address more complex problems.
Securing a Human Resource Management solution could, and quite probably should, increase your efficiencies and create ROI, but it doesn’t establish an ecosystem for increasing value and connections.
It isn’t just technology.
It’s critical to note that there’s another use of the term “platform” that applies solely to technology. Techopedia.com defines it as “a group of technologies that are used as a base upon which other applications, processes, or technologies are developed”.
Again, these groups of technologies can be critical to the creation of a platform business model, but they shouldn’t be confused with a true platform. They’re just the systems that a platform can leverage to create the connection.
What goes into a good enroll and admin platform
With the vocabulary clarification behind us, we can now dive into what you get when you partner with a company like Genius Avenue that provides a platform solution rather than just software.
Empowering the Customer Journey
Genius Avenue’s Sales Enrollment and Administration (S.E.A.) Advantage platform was created to be a solution that enables the bulk of the customer’s journey with any insurance or benefit product, group, or association.
The Customer Journey, according to this very good definition by the folks at SurveyMonkey, is “the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer.”
You can think of the customer journey in the following stages:
Awareness – The customer is learning they have a problem or need.
For example, a couple that just learned that they’re going to have triplets may suddenly be aware that their two-seater Mercedes will not be able to adequately solve their upcoming transportation problems. They now have awareness that they’ll need a new car to support their family.
Consideration – The customer is comparing solutions for their problem and learning to discover the option that best solves their problem.
Sticking with our example, that same couple might be comparing and discussing the virtues and differences of minivans vs. sport utility vehicles or station wagons. They might be looking at cars on the road, asking friends for advice, reading articles and reviews, and looking at videos on YouTube.
Decision – The customer has narrowed their options and is now ready to go with a solution.
Our (soon-to-be overwhelmed) parents have decided on the vehicle make and model they want to purchase. They’re now comparing prices, thinking about new vs. used, and deciding if they want to order their car online or go to a local dealership because the ease of the transaction is critical to their final decision.
Delight – This phase is frequently neglected, or flat out ignored, in some customer journey maps, but it’s possibly the most vital component. In the delight phase, a good company does everything they can to make sure the customer is having a great experience with their chosen product. This includes every interaction and communication the company has with the customer post-purchase.
In our automotive example, the delight phase is the couple’s experience as owners of the vehicle. This includes the post-sale delivery experience, oil changes, repairs, recall notifications, and how well the vehicle performs its primary function of family transportation.
As I mentioned earlier, the S.E.A. Advantage platform was created to support the bulk of the customer journey. Here’s a graphic that demonstrates how we support the customer and advance and accelerate sales at each phase:
Basically, our platform solution empowers everything from Consideration to Delight and renewal.
From the moment a consumer lands on your website until they renew (and beyond) it’s in our hands. Because our partners are not bogged down with enrollment or day-to-day administration, they can put more of their energy into driving awareness, pushing sales, and providing quality products.
Here is how we do it.
Our S.E.A. Advantage platform is assembled from several components, which I already mentioned earlier in this blog. We’ll go into more depth about each piece and how they all come together to support your product, group, or association.
Our technical backbone was built to support some of the most complex insurance and benefits products on the market. Because it was built in the regulatory environment of the insurance industry, the system that powers S.E.A. Advantage is robust, secure, and, most importantly, VERY flexible. A lot of software solutions and platforms brag about their versatility, but our system features more than 750 configuration options, which is why we can confidently state that we can support almost any product, group, or association.
Integrated payment processing
All Genius Avenue products come with their own internal billing processor built into the system. What’s even better is that our Genius Pay solution is incredibly versatile and can support multiple payment methodologies with no additional coding or integration.
Genius Avenue’s S.E.A. platform partners enjoy having our team do the grunt work of member management. Our billing team is based in Arizona and handles everything for our partners, including issuing invoices, collecting premiums and dues, reconciling payments, and handling commissions and downstream payees. They act as our partner’s billing team and treat every customer with respect and integrity.
Customer support team
Our CS team is also based here in the Southwest, and they spend their whole day acting as our partners’ customer relationship agents. This incredibly dedicated team is focused on making sure consumers and members have great experiences. They issue documents, answer questions, and solve problems on behalf of our partners.
Since we support the Consideration and Decision stages of the Customer Journey, it’s vital that our team can support marketing initiatives. Our digital marketing group helps our partners with everything from enrollment support documents to social media campaigns that help drive sales and engagement. We also leverage the marketing group’s expertise in creating websites for our customers, including full D2C consumer sites, landing pages, and microsites.
This aspect of our platform is the hardest to quantify but possibly the most critical. A Genius Avenue partnership is built on trust, understanding, and a commitment to mutual, long-term success. We help our clients with strategic decisions, ranging from simple sales flow changes to product definitions; and we can even help launch entirely new products. We always act as trusted partners and fiduciaries for the companies and associations we support, but due to our decades of combined experience in the enroll and admin space, we’re also advisors who can support strategic decisions.
As you can see, there’s much more to a platform than just a software subscription.
We’ve created an ecosystem to support the customer journey, streamline administration, drive enrollment, and increase renewals. But the question of why it’s superior to off-the-shelf software still remains somewhat unanswered. Well, not for long.
More Than the Sum of its Parts
Why platforms are better for enroll and admin
Let me go back to our earlier definition of a platform, which was:
A business model that uses technology to connect people, organizations, and resources in an interactive ecosystem in which amazing amounts of value can be created and exchanged.
That last section about “amazing amounts of value” is what we want to focus on now. Here’s why you should consider a platform over an off-the-shelf software solution.
Low integration lift – no compromises
All the good technology bits I mentioned in the last section apply here. Our extensive configuration capacity means that the actual S.E.A. software system will fit almost any product, association, or group… and if it doesn’t meet a specific need, we can modify it. You don’t have to adjust your product or customer experience to fit a limited solution. We adjust to meet your expectations, rather than forcing you into our preconceptions.
This probably goes without saying, but you don’t have to go through the hassle of setting up our system on your machines or training employees to use a new tool. Our team learns about your needs, adjusts the system to support your group or product, and turns on your enrollment and administration platform. From day one, billing and customer service are up and running.
Outsourced and streamlined
Because we support marketing, billing, and customer service functions, our partners can control their internal overhead and limit the number of outsourced vendors they must contract with. That streamlining and optimization always results in savings for our partner groups and allows them to rely on one partner rather than a myriad of disparate solution providers.
No hassles and no technical debt
Part of the reason why our customers love our platform is because they don’t have to deal with it. Because our team supports the bulk of the customer journey, our partners don’t have to learn or maintain software, deal with upgrades, or train staff. You don’t need to have programmers on staff, or even on call, or deal with a software investment that might be losing value or exposing your company. We provide full transparency via easy-to-read reporting portals, which is the only login our partners have to deal with.
Multiple contract options
Just as there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all enrollment and administration solution, we recognize that one billing model won’t work for every product or association. Most of our partners contract S.E.A. Advantage on a Per Member, Per Month (PMPM) or Per Employee, Per Month (PEPM) basis, which we like because it allows us to scale with you and support groups of any size. But we also work with some clients on a monthly subscription rate basis or on a sliding membership scale, depending on the needs of our partners. The gist of it is that we’ll work with you to find the best arrangement for all parties.
Most importantly, our platform scales with you to support your business as it grows. You don’t need to upgrade your subscription or increase your server capacity. We handle it all for you.
As you can see, most software can’t offer the value, ROI, breadth of service, or flexibility that a platform partner can.
I hope we’ve helped expand your knowledge of enrollment and administration, the customer journey, platforms in general, and a bit more about our specific approach.
Genius Avenue is always looking for good partnership opportunities, and we’d love to talk with you about your group, product, or association’s unique needs. If we’re not the best solution, we’ll let you know. Just click HERE to start the conversation.
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