Adam Gehris, Broker Delivery Manager at ConnectYourCare, talks about the questions brokers ask most, what services and technology his team offers, and how brokers can best prepare for next year and beyond.
Carla: Hello, my name is Carla Wardin and I'm the host of the "ConnectYourCare" podcast. I'm talking today with Adam Gehris, broker delivery manager. Hello, Adam.
Adam: Hi, Carla.
Carla: Adam, can you tell me about yourself and your work?
Adam: Sure. Thanks for having me, Carla.
Carla: Thanks for being on. I really appreciate it.
Adam: No problem. Well, as you have already stated, my name is Adam Gehris and I am the broker delivery manager here for ConnectYourCare. I've been with ConnectYourCare for going on six years now and I started my career here as a call center representative within our participant call center and quickly moved up into a leadership position within that department.
During my time as a leader within the care center, I did have the opportunity to work with clients and the brokers directly in addition to just the participants. So this is where I first realized that I wanted to get into a client and broker management.
When I saw the broker delivery manager position was available, I immediately jumped for that opportunity. This role is within our small to medium business department, and I knew that would be the department where I'd be interacting with the broker community the most.
Carla: Interesting. So, in the small to medium broker department, what interested you particularly about this area?
Adam: The biggest thing that interested me about this area was just being able to work on the client and broker side of the house. All my experience in the past had been working just solely with the participants. So, as I moved up into a leadership position within the care center and have the opportunity to talk and speak with clients and brokers, I knew immediately that that's where I wanted to be.
Carla: For someone who is listening that isn't completely familiar with the broker role, what does a broker do for businesses and clients?
Adam: Essentially what they do is they are... If a group doesn't want or doesn't have the capability to go out and find benefits and vendors on their own, the brokers will be the ones that are actually going out into the marketplace looking for third-party administrators, looking for the different types of vendors that provide the different products and/or insurance that each employer would need.
Carla: It's so nice to have someone who knows more than you help you along the way on something like that.
Carla: So, in your leadership role now, what are your main responsibilities?
Adam: So I manage ConnectYourCare's ongoing support team for all clients and brokers within the small to medium business marketplace. I would say my main responsibilities are to ensure that every client and broker has a great experience with ConnectYourCare and to help drive continuous technological enhancements and efficiencies through continuous process improvement.
Carla: Oh, so that's great. I'm glad that we're ensuring that everyone is having a good experience. What types of things do you do to make sure that they are having a good experience?
Adam: So our team provides ongoing support for existing clients and broker partners. We make ourselves available to take any calls and emails Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time all the way through 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
And really we are there to help provide any broker that's calling or emailing us with best-in-class service that we're known for and just overall educational purposes to show existing and brand new brokers, I should say, all the different resources and innovative tools that CYC has to provide.
Carla: That's great. How do you like working one on one with people in this area?
Adam: Well, nothing quite beats a face to face, one on one meeting, which has become quite challenging in 2020. Even before COVID, we all tend to communicate with email, IM through our phones and texts. Now, with the surge of online meeting tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, that has somewhat fulfilled the need for the face to face meeting, but whether your one on one is with your team member or with a broker, they are one of the most important tools that I would say that you had as a manager. They provide you with the opportunity to ask strategic questions such as, "Are we focused on the right things? What can I do to better support your needs?" and so on.
So from a rapport point of view, they are how you show employees and brokers that you value them and you care about them. The ideal goal is to show your commitment to helping your employee or broker develop and grow and also look at how you can best work with them to get the things done and meet their needs while also ensuring they have the right tools for them to be successful.
Carla: I would like to work one on one with you. That would be really great. The face to face type of service is something that people are always looking for. Like you said, even if it's not actual face to face, just that interaction through Zoom or through these meetings really helps. And what do brokers contact you and your team about the most?
Adam: So right now, due to the season that we're in, I would say that brokers are contacting us the most around how to renew their clients for the upcoming plan year. So as you know, most clients that have their benefits plan year on a calendar year are most likely going through open enrollment at this point in time or soon to be.
So brokers are really just calling in to see how they can get their plans renewed and also how to ensure that other participants who have recently gone through or are currently going through open enrollment can easily be enrolled into the product offerings of their choice.
Carla: Well, good. That's an easy one then if you know what people are mostly calling about. You know how to treat them. And we talked a little bit about already the challenges in 2020. What other kinds of challenges are brokers facing this year?
Adam: Sure. So businesses today are heading into obviously an increasingly virtual world, especially now that many employees are working remotely. For benefits brokers, this means online open enrollment, remote client onboarding, and digital resources have become necessities. To succeed, brokers must have the ability to adapt by embracing technology. Now, more than ever, brokers need to have a virtual strategy and the right tools to get ahead of the curve. That's why we share our solution BROKERcommand, which is a robust and easy-to-use tool design to help brokers manage clients virtually through an all-in-one online platform.
Carla: How have brokers been using this so far? How is BROKERcommand working out for them?
Adam: We've gotten a lot of feedback saying it is very, very easy to use. It's very user-friendly. It allows them to create proposals, generate proposals very quickly and get them out to clients, and to easily onboard them through the tools. So we've gotten nothing but extremely positive feedback from the users thus far.
Carla: Good, that is wonderful. And in using tools like this and preparing, what are brokers doing or what do they need to do to prepare for next year and years to come?
Adam: So even before the pandemic changed the way that we all worked, adaptability and technology were always essential for benefits brokers to thrive. The future of benefits-brokered services is online and the brokers who will succeed are the ones that adopt new technology and the tools for virtual business interactions.
While the industry has been heading virtual for years, there were and I would say still are a lot of brokers that use conventional methods. With the changing work landscape pushing all businesses and processes into the digital world, brokers have to balance the needs and abilities of their clients and providers' demands of new technology. This requires the implementation of effective tools that will cut down on tedious, time-consuming administrative tasks to free them up for the more important work.
Carla: Oh, anything you can do to get rid of tedious tasks, people are going to be in favor of for sure.
Carla: And I like how you said that the future is adaptability. I know that I am trying to be very adaptable, trying to be flexible, trying to be patient. So it's not just for brokers; that seems for everyone going into this year and next. That's something that we can all work on.
Carla: You talked about the season right now of renewal. What is your busiest time of year for your team?
Adam: So the busiest time of year for us is always going to be in January at the beginning of a new year. I would say that's due to the majority of clients do have their plans going live on January 1st ever year so they had those calendar year plan years. So while the brokers may have the busiest season during the annual enrollment season, which we're in now, we really see the most incoming volume the first quarter of each new year due to all the plans going live.
Carla: Well, good. You've got a couple of more months until you head into the busiest part of the season for you.
Adam: Yep, we are gearing up.
Carla: And you mentioned that you've been in this. What changes have you seen during your career doing this?
Adam: So even though I'm less than two years into my career with brokers, I have seen the growth and innovation of ConnectYourCare's strategy when it comes to the broker community. When speaking with brokers, it seems they are more and more looking for a one-stop-shop for all their consumer-driven healthcare needs. ConnectYourCare is consistently looking for ways to provide innovative technology, a diverse selection of different products, and best-in-class customer service for participants as well as the brokers and employers.
Carla: So as a one-stop-shop, hopefully, what kind of resources does ConnectYourCare offer to them?
Adam: Well, ConnectYourCare does offer a multitude of different resources that we can provide to the broker community. If you look at our website, you can find our blog, which houses many different educational articles. You can also find different trend reports throughout the industry, ebooks, I would say the most current legislative news and much, much more.
Carla: Yes. I do love our site for that. And also in doing this and in this service, what in particular does ConnectYourCare do to set itself apart from other broker services?
Adam: Well, I would say that we live in a world where everyone wants something now and brokers aren't an exception. They want new clients up and running quickly, which means they need the tools and technology better, quick, and easy.
CYC continues to push innovation, and CYC's latest development of BROKERcommand that I mentioned earlier delivers what brokers are looking for and more. Not only is it quick and easy to add new clients, brokers can now gain valuable insights through the data and analytics that is featured.
The latest version of BROKERcommand features different dashboards, automated alerts, and custom reporting which provides brokers and clients visibility across various stages of the client life cycle, including proposals, onboarding, implementation up to renewals.
Carla: Thank you so much. Thank you for sharing your knowledge about this, thank you for sharing your knowledge about the team and thank you most of all for your time, Adam.
Adam: Oh, yeah. You are more than welcome. It's been a pleasure.
Carla: I've been speaking to Adam Gehris, and for more information, you can always go to connectyourcare.com.
Carla Wardin is the host of the ConnectYourCare podcast, Exclamation of Benefits. Carla brings her broadcasting and technology experience to talk to experts about the latest innovations in the benefits industry. Carla is an author, speaker, and marketing communicator from Michigan, where she and her husband are raising three boys on a dairy farm.