In a truly digital economy, are Life and Pensions markets meeting customer expectation?

Forty years ago, the customer expectation in the Life and Pensions market was that once a policy was sold an agent would come to the door at regular intervals to collect premiums – well, it’s not quite like that anymore.

The rapid development of the digital economy in areas of retail and banking has set a high level of customer expectation.

Customers no longer benchmark their ability to access the services of a provider against other providers, they benchmark against the digital services of Amazon, Apple and other online experiences.

Compared to these customer-centric organisations, the processes of Life and Pensions providers might occasionally seem outdated and slow.

With no recognised standards across the industry, different firms are at different stages of their digital journey.What does digital transformation look like? Find out more

Inconsistency is a challenge – not just between businesses, but sometimes within the same business.

For the customer, this inconsistency can be discouraging. Those that hold policies and investments with several different companies won’t fail to miss the differences in how varied the customer journeys are between their providers. Furthermore, are any of the providers truly satisfying the customer’s expectations?

Individuals holding two different policies with the same provider could be further confused if a newer product is served through a digital process, but an older one is still paper-based.

Converting to wholly digital processes might be a big challenge but, with competitors and the public already moving in this direction, it would be a much more significant challenge for providers to grow their business and stay relevant without changing.

So, what’s the starting point?

Providers could start looking at key processes and finding out what customers think about them, and then trying to automate from there.

In the first instance, it’s not about making overnight, wholesale changes; it’s about making good decisions and incrementally improving the digital proposition and the customer experience.

Following this, the next stage will be to phase out ‘swivel chair technologies’. This is where a provider outsources inputting details from documents to a system to third parties. Not only is this labour intensive, there’s a risk that the data won’t match.

Beyond digitising offline processes, the next step can be to look at making new systems smarter and more streamlined. Decision making software and technology can help a host of processes to work together, when initiated by the customer, in real time to a set of customised rules.

Not only can decision making software enhance the customer experience, it could reduce the dependence on staff, allowing them to be focused on tasks that add more value to the customer.

These changes make customers happier by improving processes, reducing costs and allowing resource to be focused on the customer.

If a process can be improved by reducing costs and the chances of errors occurring, at the same time as improving the customer experience, it’s a win/win for the customer and the business.