Businessolver Blog

5 Questions to Ask About AI at Benefits RFP

5 Questions to Ask About AI at Benefits RFP
Posted on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 by Sara Vidoni

Looking to integrate more AI to drive results in your employee benefits program? Here’s what HR teams should consider when assessing the right benefits AI for their business and employees.

It’s safe to say that AI has changed everything about the way we think about the future. From planning a vacation to shopping for something on Amazon, AI has already planted a foothold in our daily lives. And today’s workplace is no exception.

According to Gartner, 81% of HR leaders have considered an AI solution to help with efficiencies. Another 76% believe that without AI, their organization will lag in success compared to their peers.

The data paints a clear picture for HR: AI is here to stay and employers have a lot to gain from AI technology.

But not all benefits AI technology is created equal. It’s important to work with a technology partner that understands your needs and can deliver results with scalable and meaningful AI. Here are some questions you should be asking to get to the root of your prospective AI technology partner’s capabilities.

1. How can AI help drive personalization and engagement year-round?

First, it’s important to understand that personalized benefits communication leads to year-round employee engagement. In our Benefits Insights Report, we found that over 2.1 million members chatted with our AI personal benefits assistant, Sofia. Besides enrollment questions, employees asked her about their medical and dental benefits, life insurance, HSA, and 401(k) plans, throughout the year, not just at annual enrollment.

It’s easy to casually throw out buzzwords like “personalization” but it’s important to ask your next potential vendor to dig into what they mean by personalization, and how AI helps drive that. What we found from our Benefits Insights data is that when employees were reminded about their benefits at relevant times, 17% of them engaged or took an action following that reminder.

Here’s what we recommend asking:

  • Can the AI tool promote or recommend benefits in the moment based on an employee’s eligibility or enrollment status?
  • Can the AI serve up data and insights that track engagement trends and metrics?
  • What percentage of employees who see benefits reminders served up from AI take action? How does that compare to when AI isn’t in play?

2. What kind of data can AI help bring forward to inform HR’s strategy?

HR can’t be expected to read their employees’ minds (although it would be so nice to have that power sometimes!), yet the success of HR’s strategy often hinges on having a meaningful impact on the needs of employees. AI can help bridge that gap by pulling forward meaningful insights from the thousands of data streams flowing through your organization. Not only can this save you literally thousands of hours, this support can also help you weave more empathy into your organization. But what do those capabilities look like in AI and what should you and your broker or advisor be asking about to understand the true value of a potential partner?

We recommend starting with the basics and working up to more complex issues:

  • Can the AI identify trends in real-time to help you understand where employees are getting stuck or feeling confused?
  • Does the AI technology include a virtual benefits assistant that can help answer questions in real-time?
  • Can the AI provide personalized nudges and benefit reminders for employees? If so, what does the success rate look like?

3. How should AI be able to support HR?

Being able to unlock insights on a broad scale is undoubtedly helpful, but the second part of informing HR’s strategy should be the value of being able to drill down to the granular level. For every interaction that your employees have within the system, you should be able to recall the interaction, whether that be the chat history, or on-demand recording, or the transcript of the call.

In a service center environment, every minute counts. At RFP, ask how AI plays a role in assisting with communication. One example might be AI summarizing the call, and therefore saving time for service representatives. This is not only helpful for HR in identifying employee’s knowledge gaps, but also ensures a necessary level of transparency.

4. How does AI drive efficiency for HR?

Behind every good AI tool is an extensive knowledge base. It’s critical to understand how the technology vendor’s AI pulls information. “If/then” models are not true generative AI. They are likely powered by a spreadsheet on the backend that must be manually maintained. But not all knowledge is created equal—with AI, it’s important to understand how the model is trained and whether or not the knowledge base it’s working with is capable of providing true efficiencies for HR and their employees.

Large language models programmed by machine learning experts have an element of simulated cognitive function. They can identify the “question behind the question” and provide answers from a proprietary knowledge base, client-specific document banks, and member-specific information in the system, such as their benefits guide, to provide real-time answers, ensuring a high level of accuracy.

Getting at the real reason behind why a member is asking for support is not only efficient but empathetic. In a member’s moment of need, the last thing anyone wants to do is sift through their benefits guide for information. It’s extremely helpful if the AI can serve as a front-line single point of contact.

5. How does AI improve employee benefits self-service?

The question of self-service ties in perfectly to the question about efficiency. Employees only need their benefits information when they need it. Months after open enrollment, there’s a chance that they may have forgotten what their deductible is or will need to know what their current FSA account balance is. Counting on AI to be that initial go-to for anything benefits-related empowers employees to self-serve and get the answers they need, without having to wait to speak to a human.

Emergencies don’t always happen during business hours. And employees might not have a chance to dive into their benefits details during the workday. It’s important that AI is always on, nights and weekends, to answer those important questions when member’s need them the most.