Vendor Teams and Why They Matter

Susan Muris, Consultant

Let’s be honest, the vendor you chose to provide any services to your department and your employees is extremely important.  But the vendor that insures your employees’ healthcare and the experience your employees have with it is crucial.  It can ensure a confident and positive environment for Human Resources and your employees, or it can create negative experiences that can be hard to overcome.  After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression. 

As we all know, choosing a vendor can be a tricky process.  The procurement process is lengthy and many things are evaluated and re-evaluated.  Cost is probably the biggest factor, but account management practices are close behind.  Although all carriers will tell you they have the strongest customer service models, and will provide references to back it up, you still may not know exactly how the team that services your account will fare when the rubber meets the road.  Even with the best presentation, the best references and the best service model, you can still be disappointed.  Trust me, a great proposal from a great carrier can turn into a very bad situation with the wrong account team.  I have seen it happen many times. 

I’ve learned through painful experience, that identifying the strongest team prior to the selection of any vendor is your best bet for success.  Once competitive quotes have been identified, the next conversation with the sales rep (and your broker) should be how to identify the best and most experienced team for the client, before final considerations and decisions are even made.  If you are struggling with a vendor team that is already in place, ask to be reassigned to someone else and most importantly insist on being a part of the selection of the new contact.  Sometimes just a quick conversation with a prospective team member will tell you everything you need to know.  

The bottom line is all carriers offer the same basic services (for the most part), but the most successful relationships I have seen in my experience are with those vendor service teams that know how to navigate their internal ‘red tape’ at their respective companies, and leverage their resources to create the best experience for their clients.  I have worked with many vendors in my career, and the success of each one relies heavily on who your contact is.  I have seen every carrier succeed and every one fall short based solely on this one factor. 


About the author:

Susan is a Consultant with Craford Benefit Consultants in the Charlotte, NC office. She has 14 years of experience in the industry with both carriers and consulting firms. Susan’s primary responsibility is to drive long term health and welfare strategy for her clients while ensuring seamless coordination of all plan components. Additionally, her duties include vendor management, renewal marketing and negotiations, compliance, building strong wellness initiatives, and communication strategies. Susan has strong experience with complex multi-site employers under both fully insured and self-insured contracts and brings creative and collaborative solutions and strategies to her client partners.

Prior to joining Craford in 2007, Susan held an account management role with Cigna Healthcare for 2 years. She also brings experience as an Account Manager for a broker firm as well as a Sales Assistant for UnitedHealthcare. Susan is a graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a degree in International Business and Spanish.

Susan believes in the importance of providing a high level of service and enjoys building solid, long-term relationships with her client and vendor partners.