5 Questions To Ask Self-Service Portal Solution Partners

Written by: Ron Scheese

Every life and annuity carrier and agent knows how critical it is to provide highly responsive service to policyholders and members.

Unfortunately, continually hiring staff – is a largely unsustainable strategy in today’s age of stagnant (or shrinking) budgets.

In many cases, this challenge can be met through the smart deployment of technology. Integrated, scalable self-service portal solutions allow individuals to easily update basic information, view policy and investment data (cash values, premium payments, beneficiary information, etc.) modify allocations and more – all without ever contacting a representative. This situation both creates value for the policyholder and reduces non-value-add work for Plan admin and Policy admin personnel.

Not all self-service options are created equal, however. Some offer limited end-user functionality, or limited opportunity for carrier/agent branding. Others are less than fully integrated with plan admin and policy admin systems, resulting in redundant manual work down the line.

Before you consider investing in a self-service portal solution (or building your own, in-house), be sure to ask these five questions:

1) What is the user experience like?

Leading self-service offerings (like Andesa’s fully integrated Self-Service Portal) offer customizable and intuitive end-user interfaces, accessible from thin, web-based clients. The point, after all, is to make simple information updates and data access easy on the individual; an overly complex, difficult-to-learn UI undermines that goal from Day 1.

2. What security measures are in place?

Self-service solutions should be hosted in private and redundant environments, either on internal servers or in a highly secure “cloud.” All interactions should be encrypted, and secure logins should be employed – ensuring that only authorized users can access private data.

3. Is the solution in real-world use?

The Self-Service Portal is a proven system offered by a company with more than 30 years of experience in the space. Here is how a VP of Executive Benefit Operations at a major U.S. life insurance carrier describes how his division is using the Self-Service Portal to mitigate the need for call centers, improve the experience of end-users, and ensure ongoing data accuracy: “Dealing with end participants represented a new paradigm for us, which required us to examine how best to service this client-base. With the Self-Service Portal, we’re able to provide plan administrators and end clients with a streamlined interface, advanced tools and access to detailed policy information, any time.”

4. Can the solution be branded?

Today’s best self-service offerings boast a simple pass-through web portal that supports the style and branding of a carrier’s customizable banner. A branded portal increases trust for the end user, improves adoption rates and significantly increases (and speeds) overall ROI.

5. Will the solution integrate with my other toolsets?

For maximum efficacy and efficiency, any self-service solution should either come from the same vendor as policy admin, plan admin, illustration and new business processing/application fulfillment solutions, or offer simple entry and exit points for integration with external toolsets.

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