Investment and pensions products are typically of high value and come with a huge emotional attachment for the customer. Investing for the future or managing retirement savings are often ‘once in a lifetime’ decisions which involve significant levels of trust.
However, the opportunity for providers to develop a bond of trust with their customers is restricted. Products tend to be isolated purchase decisions with limited chances for engagement. Occasions to talk directly to the customer are few and far between and many of these products are sold through an intermediary, further distancing the provider brand from the end customer. Customers who buy through IFAs tend to remain loyal to the adviser; so messages from investment and pensions providers can get diluted. At worst, customers could be directed elsewhere for new business without the provider ever having the opportunity to rescue the customer.
According to research from OneFamily more than half of savers - 53 per cent – don’t know who their pension provider is. If providers are to strengthen this tenuous relationship, they must impress their customers at every infrequent touchpoint.
The Pensions and Investment industry is also facing increased competition from emerging brands and technology is changing people’s research and buying habits. But the need for the personal touch is still there, particularly for significant financial investments. Identifying these moments and understanding the needs of both the end customer and key influencers such as IFAs, will help providers create stronger relationships as well as a foundation for future loyalty.
Herein lies the challenge: If customer contact is remote and infrequent, how do investment and pensions providers build relationships that create longer-term loyalty and brand advocacy? To do so they need to have a clear understanding of how their customers and their advisers are feeling, understand the moments when the personal touch is needed, identify quickly when problems occur and sharpen the performance of all those who have the opportunity to engage with and optimise customer relationships.
‘Voice of the Customer’ feedback programmes give investment and pensions providers invaluable insight into their customers’ experiences. They can:
‘Real-time’ feedback – the immediacy of VoC surveys means the feedback carries much greater validity than surveys completed days or even weeks after a customer transaction. Getting information immediately after an interaction, be it positive or negative, means more honest, accurate insight that you can act on straight away. A customer’s view of an investment and pensions’ provider’s brand is shaped by their most recent experience. Feedback surveys ensure that you know exactly how your customers feel at this ‘moment of truth’.
Prevent disgruntled customers taking their business elsewhere –‘red-flag’ alerts quickly identify a dissatisfied customer. Alerts can be sent to nominated individuals (including IFAs) who can re-engage with the customer and address their issues. Such immediate attention will reduce the chances of a customer shopping elsewhere, retaining a poor opinion of your brand or, worse, sharing their experience with the outside world on social media. It can resolve small niggles before they grow into major complaints and has proven to increase brand advocacy three-fold.
Build stronger relationships by listening to the voice of your customer – understanding what’s right and what’s wrong at the point of customer contact will help you refine your offering. ‘Voice of the Customer’ programmes identify improvements you can make to your processes and propositions. Being able to get a visceral response from a customer will help you stay one step ahead of your competitors. Plus, it will reduce failure-demand and, in turn, improve productivity.
Creating better team performance – feedback lets your teams learn from real-life scenarios. Alerts can be delivered to team leaders when conversations don’t run as smoothly as they should. With the scenario still fresh in their mind, managers can deliver ‘coaching in the moment’ to improve a team member’s skillset. Surveys can also be run with IFAs and their administration team to help you understand the needs of those who have significant influence over the decision-making process of customers.
Customer experience has become the key metric in branches, contact centres, digital teams and anywhere where brands interface with their customers. Measurement of customer experience is being used to drive service improvement, culture change, brand and marketing propositions and business success. It was Sam Walton, founder of Walmart who used to say: “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” There can be no clearer statement on the importance of getting customer experience right.