Omnichannel communications is a hot topic in the business world. Time and again, business consultants encourage their clients to adopt an omnichannel communication strategy. But what does it mean? More importantly, does it apply in the employee benefits space?
In a generic sense, ‘omnichannel’ is defined as a seamless, effortless customer experience across multiple channels. Casino gambling offers the perfect example. A casino with a defined omnichannel strategy for player experience might offer typical table games on the casino floor. Games like blackjack and roulette would also be available to online gamblers through live video and audio feeds. Customers get access to the same games whether they are at the casino or playing from home.
Applying the omnichannel concept to electronic communication would entail a variety of channels, including:
- text messaging
- website posts
- social media
- group calendars
- group collaboration spaces.
The number of channels is less important than using them all. Carriers, general agencies, benefits brokers, and employee benefit managers can all make use of the omnichannel strategy.
Keeping Employees Engaged
Adopting an omnichannel communication strategy is not about doing something just for the sake of doing it. It is about keeping employees engaged. Why would companies want to do that? Because employees do not necessarily use all the benefits available to them. They also tend to not stay abreast of changes between open enrollment periods. They sign up in November and then don’t think about their benefits again until the following year.
An omnichannel communication strategy keeps employees in the loop. It sends targeted messages on an as-needed basis, reaching employees where they are. Here are just a few examples:
- Monthly Newsletters – A monthly newsletter not only informs employees of any changes to their benefits, but it can also be tailored to encourage them to use those benefits.
- Calendar Reminders – In environments where employees share work calendars, benefit-related tasks and events can be placed on the calendar. Everyone subscribing to that calendar gets the information on the selected date.
- Text Messages – Texting is the perfect tool for sending out quick reminders about benefits. Employees are always ready to pull out their phones anyway, so targeted texts can place important messages in their hands in an instant.
Keeping employees engaged is key to keeping them informed about their benefits. But omnichannel communications are a two-way street. They offer employees the opportunity to ask questions, raise concerns, make comment, etc.
Devising a Strategy
Implementing the omnichannel strategy may not be easy for people and organizations that have not tried it yet. Omnichannel anything takes some getting used to. The starting point is to devise a basic strategy to get things rolling. Once deployed, communications can be tracked and analyzed to figure out what is working and what’s not.
It is not uncommon for organizations to discover that some channels just aren’t being utilized. Like wine, one or two channels seem to get more attention than the rest. Analysis reveals this. It also helps organizations better use each channel at their disposal. The important thing is that every channel be used in some way.
A Better Benefits Environment
BenefitMall, a brokerage general agency representing more than a hundred carriers, says that the omnichannel communication strategy is an organic part of the ongoing digital transformation of the business world. They encourage carriers, general agencies, and brokers to get on board with the concept. The result should be a better benefit environment for everyone.
If your organization hasn’t yet embraced the omnichannel model for communicating, what is holding you back? If it can work in the employee benefit space, it can work just about anywhere.