Creating a compelling customer experience in the Super industry

A colleague and I recently co-presented at the Superannuation Fund Back Office Forum on creating a compelling Customer Service Experience in the Superannuation Industry. Here is a summary of our presentation.


My story – a Strategy of Mutual Avoidance

We took a light hearted approach to outline the problems in the industry and offered my personal experience with superannuation as an example. My story involves wasting money by paying multiple fees to multiple funds due to lack of education about super. This is definitely not a one-off experience by any stretch. My entire experience can be summed up by the acronym SOMA – a Strategy of Mutual Avoidance. I don’t want to talk to them; they don’t want to talk to me.

We outlined a few key problems with the super industry from a customer experience perspective:

  • It’s not sexy
  • The reporting is archaic and delayed
  • The engagement level with members is low

Picking up on this last point, there is confusion and a lack of education among members resulting in low engagement, lack of interest by members, and an industry wide customer satisfaction score of 34% according to one benchmark survey. The highest score was SunSuper at 54%.

Learning from other industries

We focussed on companies outside of the financial services industry that are providing a compelling customer experience since there does not seem to be an obvious leader in the super industry. In fact, it seems the status quo is the rule. We looked at Xero (cloud based accounting software), Netflix, Amazon, goCatch (an online personal taxi dispatch app), and Personal Capital, a US based company that offer virtual financial advice and aggregates all your financial information into one spot.

It may be true that super is not sexy (to the majority anyway), but neither is accounting (again, to the majority). However, Xero breaks that mould, and aims to make accounting sexy. Their motto is “Do beautiful Business” and they have created an almost cult-like following. Don’t believe me – follow them on Twitter or check out their Facebook page.

DEEPER – five elements for a compelling customer experience

We offered up a five elements of a compelling customer service strategy we called DEEPER. Yes I know DEEPER is 6 letters but there are too many E’s and PREED or DREEP just don’t cut it as an acronym. We couldn’t use an iceberg analogy with PREED or DREEP either, but it is a great analogy for DEEPER!

The iceberg analogy also ties in nicely to the first two letters – Deliver a (mass) personalised service Experience. In the super industry QSuper is trying this; they have recognised 36 different customer segments and are customising communications for each one. It seems customised to the person receiving the email, but they are only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Outside of financial services, Amazon and Netflix are doing an amazing job of this with their recommendation engines.

The second E stands for Engage your customers (create a tribe). Again Amazon and Netflix do this, but given their product not many do it better than Xero. As mentioned they have a cult-like following. It is a cult-following of accountants (enter joke here) but it is a real tribe.

P stands for Proactively Communicate and advise. The idea here is don’t be a hammer searching for a nail, or a solution looking for problem. Personal Capital, a US company, allows customers to aggregate their financial information and then offers virtual advice by their financial planners. Amazon and Netflix could easily fit in this category as well with the recommendation engine.

The third E is Employ omni-channel sales, customer service and/or service delivery. Amazon does this really well, both the sales omni-channel (allowing sales across computer, mobile and Kindle) and their service delivery omni-channel (Whispersync technology). Whispersync allows you to move between devices and keep your page.

Finally R is Reduce friction in your transactions. Xero with their bank feeds and Amazon with their one-click purchase both do this well. goCatch is another example. They digitise the entire experience of getting a cab. You enter your credit card into the app and once logged on can see cabs in the area, enter your destination and ask for a cab, see which cabs are interested and can see the cab on approach. Once you arrive at your destination you pay the driver through the app and can give them a rating.

Start simple – 3 options for improvement

We finished by going through the touch points of my Super lifecycle over 8 years and drilled in to 3 areas where simple changes that do not require a huge investment in IT could begin the engagement process:

  1. Entering the fund – a great chance to reach out, avoid SOMA, and start the relationship on the right foot
  2. Changing Jobs – assuming the customer stays with the fund how about a nice, big THANK YOU!
  3. Birthdays – a simple birthday card wouldn’t be too much to ask for would it? Maybe with a picture of a birthday cake sliced into asset allocation pieces?

Don Hicks
Senior Consultant

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