May 1, 2024

How modern, tech-forward ben-admins are winning in the SMB space

A new wave of modern ben-admin software platforms are competing on experience and winning. These are some of the innovative product strategies they're deploying.

Melissa Cruickshank

Companies like Ease, Rippling, Gusto, and Zenefits are proving that a technology-driven, user-centric approach to benefits can win against incumbents that offer the status quo at a lower price. With 70% of employers citing benefits digitization and systems integration as a top priority, we’re seeing even more ben-admins emerge to ride this wave.

So if you want to be the next easy ben-admin that brokers and employers love, how do you do it?

1. Rapid carrier network expansion

Access to a diverse carrier network is essential for meeting the unique needs of SMB employers and staying competitive in the marketplace. Through strategic partnerships and API integrations, modern ben-admins are quickly and efficiently expanding their carrier networks, offering employers a wide range of benefit options tailored to their workforce demographics and preferences. And increasingly those benefits options are expected to be integrated and accessible within the product experience. For example,  66% of employers prefer carriers that connect to their software over price.

In the past, this required building and scaling a large EDI operation or offloading that work to an EDI vendor (also expensive). For smaller groups, they were stuck with portals and forms. But today, with API connectivity solutions, a single integration can enable seamless data connections with virtually any carrier and support both small and large groups with fewer limitations. For example, our customers are quickly activating multiple carriers within days and reducing operational costs by 60-70% against EDI – you can learn more here.

2. Using technology to prioritize ease, speed, and automation

Many brokers and employers are prioritizing software that’s easier to use, especially if it helps them provide a higher level of service. In an industry where it can take several weeks (or months) to set up and enroll a single group, there’s a lot of room for technology and automation to offer a differentiated experience. We’re seeing many ben-admins deploy new technologies that reduce these processes to days, often minutes.

A sleek, intuitive user interface can go a long way, but what really matters is how data is managed behind-the-scenes. One of the biggest advantages newer ben-admins have is the ability to leverage APIs to integrate a wide range of third-party systems and services (eg payroll, HR, and ben-admin). When data flows seamlessly between the carrier network and the ben-admin system, powerful new features and capabilities can be extended across a full suite of HR services. For example, complex administrative work like payroll deductions, ACA compliance, and maintaining employee records across systems can be automated.

And for benefits administration specifically, real-time enrollment and eligibility processing, automated data synchronization with carriers, and granular insights about enrollment statuses and issues, are just a few of the differentiated features these platforms are offering that other EDI-focused solutions can’t.

While many platforms make claims about “syncing” data with carriers, the market is quickly understanding the limitations of legacy, file-based systems and the friction they cause customers. Offering a full-service ben-admin that plays nicely with other HR systems falls apart if the data can’t be trusted, standardized, or transmitted efficiently.

This is why 75% of brokers pitch benefits tech when going after new business because the technology behind the scenes is increasingly more important in purchase decisions.

We'll be diving deeper into this topic and more in this live fireside chat featuring Gusto, a modern, all-in-one HR, payroll, and ben-admin solution.

3. Enhancing accuracy and reducing data errors

Most brokers and employers want to focus on the client/employee experience. They don’t want to be responding to a firehose of issues or going back and forth with carriers, especially during stressful times of year like open enrollment. This is another area where modern solutions are differentiating from the status quo. 

Traditional ben-admin solutions either have to manage a high volume of errors from batch-file processes, manual data entry, and discrepancies themselves or kick a lot of that work out to their customers, either way it’s a bad experience and operationally expensive to scale. 

With newer technologies like APIs, ben-admins can eliminate the need to manage EDI files all together (read that again!) and deploy powerful automation that ensures data is accurately transmitted, often in real-time. Our ben-admin customers are cutting ticket volumes from these errors in half or more. This not only improves the efficiency of benefits delivery for their customers but also enhances data integrity, minimizing the risk of coverage discrepancies, billing errors, and compliance issues ie all of the stuff no one wants to deal with.

It’s shocking how pervasive these data issues are, and even more shocking how expensive it is for employers each year. A recent study found that 90% of employers experience at least 1 enrollment error each year, costing billions in aggregate from downstream billing issues and administrative costs. This is alarming, but it’s also a major opportunity to differentiate.

Modern API technology can automatically prevent and detect these issues before they impact members, which offers a better experience than having to parse EDI error reports, staff large client services teams, or having to pass that burden to customers. If you want to see what an automated reconciliation experience looks like, check out a recent demo.

Proving the value of a better experience

By delivering superior functionality, user experience, and seamless connectivity across a broad network of carriers, many ben-admin platforms are proving the value of investing in innovative solutions over the status quo. And the value proposition extends beyond time savings and efficiency gains to improved employee satisfaction, retention, and more valuable carrier partnerships. 

Noyo is proud to power carrier connectivity and a modern enrollment experience for many of the innovative ben-admins making waves in the SMB space.

If you’re looking to innovate and standout, learn more about our technology solutions or drop into office hours and ask our solutions team anything that’s on your mind.

If you do benefits, you need Noyo

The future of employee benefits is faster, easier, and more automated. Are you ready?