I remember what my first employer in the health insurance industry told me. “Benefits,” he said, “is all about relationships.” If I could only find a button on my keyboard that forms those relationships. Any successful broker will tell you that growing and maintaining their book of business requires more than an efficient sales process and healthy metrics; growth also requires an understanding of the human element. Before anyone buys what you are selling, the old adage goes, they buy you. Perhaps that helps to explain the strong reaction that brokers are feeling towards companies like Zenefits. In a recent article in Employee Benefit Adviser, Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad noted that “they almost never do in-person visits…Everything is over the phone and online.” If the traditional broker model required telling clients, “I’ll be here with you every step of the way,” this new digital model seems almost to be saying the opposite - “It’s like I’m not even here.” It would be one thing for a broker to feel threatened by technology – anyone can have technology. It’s another thing altogether to tell a broker that their invaluable interpersonal skills are no longer worth having. For many brokers, the very first thing that they sold was themselves (now, if I could just find a button that does that). The reality is that structural changes to the benefits industry, caused in large part by the ACA, have forced brokers to seek out more efficient quoting and enrollment processes. When choosing what parts of the process to throw out, brokers must be careful to separate the baby from the bathwater - throw away the paper applications, but keep the relationship. In some ways, the benefits industry is simply going through the same disruptive progress that every industry in America has gone through at some point, ever since John Henry called out a steam-powered hammer. The old school bumps up against the new school, with both camps presuming they have something that the other is lacking. FormFire provides brokers with a digital platform to keep and strengthen their client relationships. The strength of a benefits technology system is found not only in the people who build it, but also in the people who use it. So why not construct a digital system that puts those in the driver’s seat that are the most experienced? For more than a decade, FormFire’s digital platform has relied on brokers to do the driving. Brokers can create a personalized landing page on their own website and customized group communications to strengthen their value proposition (i.e., “Welcome to the ABC Insurance Benefits Administration Portal”). Brokers guide clients through a clean, fluid process and select/control the mix of products for applicants to review & select. FormFire’s Sell tools lend themselves well to “digital enrollment meetings,” but brokers who prefer face-to-face meetings find that FormFire’s marketplace interface is a great opportunity to counsel applicants as to their best medical and ancillary choices. A digital interface is only as strong as the people who are using it, and no button on the keyboard can by itself earn the trust and respect of clients. Brokers who have switched to FormFire-powered processes find that their relationships have grown stronger, even if there is no longer a stack of paper to deliver.