Retirement Income  

What mobile phone firms can teach pension providers

What mobile phone firms can teach pension providers

Pension providers are being advised to look to other flourishing sectors to learn vital lessons about how to adapt and grow in 2017.

The industry can take tips from both the telecoms and retail sectors, according to Joanna Hall, financial services UK lead at North Highland Consulting.

Speaking to FTAdviser, she said a key difference of the pension sector is the volume of customer interactions on a day to day basis.

She said: "While customers are frequently in touch with their mobile networks to check their billing, and data allowance via an app or enquire about a handset upgrade in store, customers in the pensions industry are far less likely to do so because of the nature of the product.

"Likewise, in the retail sector customers are consistently stimulated by new product and interactive shopping experiences both online and offline. Pensions industry offerings are far less frequent and therefore traditionally customers would not expect this service."

Ms Hall said that as we enter 2017, what will impact the pension sector, and make it dovetail with other markets, is customer demand for personalised levels of service and experience.

She said this demand has arisen alongside the digital revolution and subsequent transformation that organisations have been forced to action in order to stay afloat.

"Yet amongst this flurry of activity and progression, many providers and advisers within the pensions industry have continued without implementing meaningful change.

"The longer term nature of pensions and related investment products has meant that customers have been less inclined to notice lack of communications and engagement."

According to Ms Hall, one thing that unites companies across all sectors is the quest for customer loyalty, the kind which leads to repeat business and ongoing financial return.

Companies are being forced to put themselves in the customer's shoes, considering the way they prefer to receive information and give a consistently engaging experience through their various channels including social media and apps.

"The telecoms and retail sectors excel at this, having broken down their organisational silos and organised their channels so that they can provide a consistently good customer experience."

John Lawson, head of financial research at Aviva said the firm has previously noted the insurance industry has been stuck in the stone age when it comes to digital, but it is doing all it can to change that as it knows its customers are increasingly expecting to interact with them digitally.

He said: "We already have the MyAviva app. If you have an Aviva policy, such as a pension, then you can sign up and monitor your policy from your smartphone or tablet.

"The app will also show the customer what other policies are available to them and how much they’ll cost, including a discount for being an existing customer. A colleague of mine recently lost his car keys and was able to make a claim on his policy through the MyAviva app."