Several months ago, we began changing the way we think about operations at Gravie. We started to characterize operations work not as operations, but as service delivery. This has at least two benefits. First, it circumvents the usually painful conversation about what operations actually means. (E.g. Person 1: “What do you do for work?” Person 2: “I work in operations.” Person 1: “So… what do you actually, you know, do?”) Second, and more importantly, it puts the proper focus on the purpose of operations, which is to deliver outstanding service to our customers. Understandably then, service delivery (RIP, operations) spans almost all functional areas of our company – from giving the Gravie advisors the right tools and processes to answer our members’ tricky questions about health insurance to developing new infrastructure to allow our finance team to help members more easily pay for coverage.
In addition to delivering service to our individual members, we serve our employer partners as well. But whether it’s serving members or employers, we’re always looking for ways to improve what we do and to find new ways to add value. A company’s internal monologue about innovation becomes exponentially more valuable when it’s externalized into a dialogue. We can do all the planning and hypothesizing we want about what people like and how we can best serve them, but there’s no substitute for direct feedback from our customers.
With that belief, we created the Gravie Employer Roundtable. It’s a new forum to engage with our employers – to hear from them about what’s going well, what problems they’re facing, and what’s important to them in the world of benefits – to help us understand how we can better serve them. Because we heard that “feedback is the breakfast of champions,” we hosted the inaugural Gravie Employer Roundtable over breakfast in Gravie’s offices last Wednesday. Five of our employers – small and large, for-profit and non-profit, from tech to produce – joined us for an excellent and productive conversation.
In a future blog post, I’ll write about what we heard from employers and how that feedback relates to the service Gravie provides. In this first post, though, I’m going to begin with some more universal lessons we learned about what makes for a successful roundtable conversation:
- Employers love their employees. It was inspiring to hear the passion with which our employers talked about their employees. It is clear they care deeply about offering them the best benefits possible. This made our roundtable successful for two reasons: (1) it reminded us that when it comes to benefits, our commitment to offering our members unparalleled choice and service is aligned with what our employers care about and (2) it meant that our employers came to the discussion because they were genuinely interested in the subject matter – rule #1 for hosting a roundtable.
- Don’t be too scripted. When hosting a roundtable conversation, the goal is a natural, open conversation. When people care about the topic, there will be no shortage of discussion, and it’s often easier to get to know people when the setting isn’t too formal.
- Ask a mixture of open-ended and specific questions. By asking open-ended questions, we received a variety of responses and it was easier for guests to share ideas they had brought with them. At other times, steering the conversation with more pointed questions led us to insights that we wouldn’t have otherwise reached with less specificity.
- Give the group something concrete to react to. Some of the most engaging discussion was spurred by our sharing of future roadmap initiatives and offering a demo of a new website experience. It’s clear that we learned more – and the conversation was more enjoyable – because we shared something tangible for people to discuss.
- Breakfast is good. It’s nice to have conversation over a shared meal, and a breakfast gathering is a great way to start the day.
We’re excited that our first Gravie Employer Roundtable was a success, and we plan to expand the program in the future – with breakfast, of course. Next time, the menu might have to be biscuits and Gravie.
About the Author – Ben Simmons, Gravie Operations Manager
As Operations Manager, Ben’s job is to help Gravie run smoothly and efficiently. He works to put the right planning, processes and tools in place to best serve Gravie’s members and employers. Additionally, he leads new business initiatives. In his free time, Ben enjoys singing, traveling, and pretty much anything outdoors.
Register here for our free webinar: Welcome to Your Future – Employer’s Guide to Modern Employee Benefits on Wednesday, June 8, 12pm CDT.