Benefitfocus OE Success Week: Empowering Our Associates to Empower Our Customers

Benefitfocus OE Success Week: Empowering Our Associates to Empower Our Customers

In June 2016, Benefitfocus held its first ever Open Enrollment (OE) Success Week, an event for its newly-formed Customer Success Organization (CSO). As the now third-annual event approaches during the week of April 23, 2018, I sat down with Annmarie Fini, Senior Vice President of Customer Success, to learn more about the unique open enrollment planning event and what it means to Benefitfocus.

Q. This is Benefitfocus’ third OE Success Week. Tell us a little about the event and how it got started.

A. There were a few things happening in the spring of 2016 that gave us this 'aha moment' around starting OE Success Week. First, we had just consolidated all of our teams responsible for the end-to-end customer experience into one team, the CSO. Looking back, it seems like we’ve always been one organization, but in reality, we weren’t at the time, and that created some challenges for our customers and our teams. For example, we identified opportunities to further streamline processes for handing a customer from implementation to ongoing support.

We happened to be creating our new organization and looking at how we could enhance our model while we were planning for One Place, our annual customer conference. One Place is always an incredible experience for our customers and our associates. Year after year, we get great feedback about the information that's shared, as well as the connections that are made through networking events, so as we wrapped up One Place, it just seemed so obvious that we needed something like One Place for the CSO, and so OE Success Week was born!

The most important things we needed to accomplish during that first OE Success Week were making sure all CSO teams understood how we had transformed our model and their roles within it. Each associate plays a role in delivering customer success, and we wanted to give them opportunities to collaborate and build relationships across teams that were formerly different organizations. At the end of the event, we asked the CSO for feedback and were excited that when asked if it should become an annual event, the answer was a resounding yes. And it has!

Q. How has OE Success Week changed since the first event?

A. Last year the event grew to include both the CSO and our Technology Solutions Organization (TSO). As we thought about what's required for a successful open enrollment experience for our customers and the consumers they serve, we recognized that it’s as much about the product as it is the service, but what's most important is the data. Open enrollment data needs to accurately flow between employers and carriers to ensure that consumers have the proper benefits and accurate paychecks. This requires collaboration from our CSO and TSO teams. Bringing them together for OE Success Week was an important step in aligning our teams around our pursuit of world-class data.

We’ve also moved the event to take place earlier in the year. We recognize there's no way to make sure all associates have every piece of information they need for a successful open enrollment season during one week, but we use OE Success Week as a launching pad. Following the event, there will be follow-up trainings, discussions, process deep-dives, etc, and moving the event from mid-June to late April gives us plenty of time for those activities to make an impact before open enrollment season. We make it a point to review and refresh processes, tools and training every year so it aligns with the things our customers have told us are most important to them all year long. We put our associates’ development and learning first, which then helps them put our customers first.

Q. Do you have a favorite event or moment from previous events? What are you most looking forward to this year?

A. One of the sessions we added last year was a customer panel. How can you talk about OE success and customer success without hearing directly from the customer? Luckily, at Benefitfocus, we have a powerful community of benefits and technology practitioners who are happy and willing to share their point of view with us. Many of the associates who work more behind the scenes may not interact with customers on a daily basis. During OE Success Week, we ensure all associates hear the customer perspective, which really helps bring that work to life for them.

Another part I love about the event is the group picture we take. It's become a tradition that we gather in a corner of the parking lot to take a massive group shot. (The parking lot is the only place all 1,000-plus of us will fit!) That picture is more than just a group photo though; I’m inspired by seeing all of our team members together in one place, working towards a common goal: serving our customers. I think about all the knowledge, the creativity, the innovation and the commitment to our customers present across that team, and I’m excited by the possibility of what we can all accomplish together.

We’ll have the customer panel again this year, as well as the group photo. I can’t wait for what we’ll learn from our customers, and then, all in one place, I look forward to seeing the team that will deliver a successful OE to those same customers.

Q. What do you think Benefitfocus associates gain from the event? What about Benefitfocus customers?

A. I strongly feel that an investment in our associates is an investment in our customers. Through OE Success Week, associates have opportunities to learn, to ask questions and to build relationships with other CSO and TSO team members. The knowledge and relationships they take from the event will help them better serve our customers. Following OE Success Week ’17, one associate described it as "a truly unifying event. Clear vision. Clear commitment. Great sessions run by subject matter experts.” This is what we are working towards again!

Learn more about how Benefitfocus stays committed to customer success in this video featuring Western Kentucky University.