How will Wealth, Life or Pension providers find and win new business in the digital age?

Richard HowellsA generation ago, if you needed to grow a customer base you would put a fleet of new salesmen on the road – if only business was that easy nowadays.

A new reality of fierce competition, the cost of regulation and suppressed margins mean it’s not affordable or effective to go door-to-door. Any drive for extra business must be cost-effective, scalable, and seek out customers in the places they inhabit – and that inevitably means going digital.

Customers expect high-quality services delivered digitally. For that reason alone, digital should be a central pillar in everyone’s strategy for future business.

In fact, the challenge is two-fold: first, you must adopt the skills and knowhow that allows you to present a meaningful digital offering; secondly, no customer is actively looking to buy pensions or life assurance, they’re ‘nice-to-haves’ rather than ‘must-haves’. Because of this, you must work doubly hard for recognition and acceptance amongst new digital audiences.

It could be argued that pension providers don’t need to bring in new customers, just serve their existing base more effectively by knowing more about them to offer better products and communications. But that could leave a big proportion of the population underserved.

With the government moving the risk from state to individual a massive opportunity exists for Wealth, Life and Pension products. With that opportunity comes a responsibility – and market-need – to educate people on how they go about owning their own financial affairs.

A mixture of education, improved digital services, and a change in society’s behaviours when it comes to financial holdings – particularly retirement funds, is an important foundation for change. In turn this is likely to improve customer engagement and help close any savings and protection gap.

Customers need to trust you to the extent that they feel comfortable deepening a relationship. However, this trust takes time to build and requires consistency across the various channels the customers are interacting on. The sooner organisations make steps towards delivering a consistent experience across all channels the sooner they will reach a level of trust and brand loyalty with customers that will unlock cross and upsell opportunities. These opportunities will be best harnessed by developing a better understanding of an individual’s circumstances and working together as businesses and customers change.