There is a lot of talk about Big Data and its potential to make significant improvements in terms of both product design and engagement strategies, but few providers are offering this yet.
In September our analytics solution went live, allowing larger clients to really understand how their schemes are working. This facilitates the scruitiny of different demographics, so schemes can look at engagement as a whole and also by different population subsets. This can help them identify areas where current strategies may not be working as successfully, and action and communications can then be targeted accordingly.
Given the size of our client bank across different industries we can provide detailed information about how schemes are performing relative to other larger schemes, on a range of data points such as engagement levels and contributions, right down to the extent to which people in a certain age band have a nominated beneficiary.
How has technology been used to drive member engagement through the pandemic? Checking fund values on a daily basis via an app may be counter-productive, but the crisis has highlighted for many people the importance of saving and financial wellbeing and we want to build on that.
For most members, pensions are just a part of their overall finances. In order to support financial wellbeing we recognise that advice is key, and we are keen to promote the benefits of this. If members have a relationship with an adviser we are strongly recommending they talk to them. However this option may not be appropriate for everyone, so we want to engage and offer holistic support for those for whom this is not an option.
How have you responded to the challenges created by the Covid crisis?
The Covid crisis has accelerated a number of trends that were already happening in the market. The biggest immediate change was the shift towards remote working, and ensuring we could provide the same continuity of service with our customer teams working from home, rather than in our offices. It has been remarkable what the industry as a whole has achieved on this.
When it comes to member preferences we’ve also seen an increased shift towards digital this year. This was happening before, but by June this year we had seen a 72 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of people now using our mobile app. More people are now using the app than our web-based dashboard. We have also seen an increase in the use of our secure messaging function, offered via the app as a communication channel.
But there is still significant demand for phone-based services. This crisis has shown us how people value the reassurance they can get from speaking to another human being. A multi-channel approach remains key.
How has the support you provide had to change during this crisis?
It has been clear from the outset, that as well as being a health crisis, this pandemic has had a devastating impact on many people’s finances. Many employees have been furloughed, seen their hours reduced, and may be concerned about future job security. Alongside this we have seen redundancies rise significantly.
We have ensured colleagues are equipped to offer the support needed to those worried about the impact on their longer term savings. To help identify customers who may be in more vulnerable situations, we also worked with behavioural science experts to update our call guide. This is enabling us to have conversations that result in a real understanding of the challenges people may be facing, so we can provide the right support.
One of our priorities has been to offer reassurance, during this time. There were a lot of concerns early on about the volatility of the stock market and we wanted to help customers avoid a situation where they were potentially switching out of funds at the very worst period.
Has Covid changed members attitudes towards saving and investment?
The crisis has forced people to think more carefully about their finances. While some people have seen their income reduced as a result of this crisis, others who have been able to work from home may have conversely been able to save more.
We think the Covid-19 crisis has also changed people’s attitudes towards issues such as ESG investing. Until now much of the debate around this has focused on the environmental issues (the ‘E’ in ESG). But Covid has prompted a debate around how companies and organisations support their employees and the wider community. This corresponds to the ‘social’ part of ESG. We think ESG will continue to be an important aspect of engagement, helping people understand where their pension is invested, and how companies are helping change society for the better.
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