At Scottish Widows, we encourage customers to plan for what lies ahead. As a business we are no different which is why we are continually innovating and investing in our proposition to better support our customer needs in a way that suits them.
Digital capability is at the core of our commitment and we are leveraging our position within Lloyds Banking Group to access significant digital expertise to help transform the way we serve our customers.
We have seen many providers introduce digital capability over the past 12 months, but what is important for customers is that this is just one part of the offering they experience.
2016 saw a significant investment in our servicing capability resulting in a return to a Five Star rating. Much of last year was about building the foundations for a great digital service, we re-designed our service model and processes, making them simpler and more efficient. This is great groundwork on which to develop our digital proposition, adding further value for customers, and it is from this position that we look to drive a 2017 which will see a breakthrough of a greater magnitude in our digital offering.
Employers are already being given access to our new digital service, which simplifies the monthly contribution process and gives them a much better user experience. This has been built through iterative testing with a group of our corporate customers who worked with us over 2016 to help develop the solutions they need. It’s been a great partnership and gives us the confidence we’re designing everything around what our customers want.
In January, we launched our new Scottish Widows consumer website. Built around customer life stages, it provides the relevant information we know our customers want in a format that’s easy to navigate. It’s all about where they are on their savings journey and providing the appropriate support at that point – there’s no point in talking about Money Purchase Annual Allowance to a millenial just starting out on their savings journey!
Education and support for individuals is critical in helping them better understand what their current savings provision will deliver when they reach retirement. In December 2016 we started testing new digital services for scheme members, we have continued to expand this over the last couple of months, and will roll out to more and more customers throughout 2017.
Our research tells us customers want us to help them do three things:
Manage their pension –access valuations, update their personal details and complete transactions
Plan for their retirement – with interactive and personalised tools and calculators
Learn about saving for retirement – we’re building on all of the educational support we already offer, and will be locating our popular 30 second pension basics videos (that have now seen over two million views) in the palms of our customers’ hands.
Customers are telling us that they interact with their pension less than once a year – it will be really exciting to see the results of the testing we are carrying out around engaging employees with pensions through technology. As well as addressing our customers’ basic needs, we are trialling new and innovative ways to get people engaged and provide easy access to their savings. One experiment we’re testing is providing business cards with chips, utilising contactless and smartphone technology to direct customers to our new employee digital service. Will this provide an uplift in members accessing their savings digitally? Time will tell, and we’ll keep trying new solutions until we find out what works best for our customers.
We’ll also begin the roll out of our broader Workplace Savings solutions. With our new corporate ISA launching in the first half of this year, we will see how customers respond to viewing their pension accumulation and flexi drawdown pots side by side on the new digital interface. We’ve seen what other providers offer in this space and have designed our offering to be simple to understand and easy to interact with.
It’s likely that as a larger group of employers hit their triennial reviews, the secondary market for group pensions will begin to grow. Broader workplace and digital offerings will play a bigger role in provider selection, but only where they enhance customer outcomes, so building from the outside (customer) back in to the business is a key theme here which will continue to grow.
To supplement our digital innovation and support our engagement plans, we’re continuing our great partnership with Pension Geeks and will be bringing the Pension Bus back to the road! We’ll be teaming up to do our bit to make Pension Awareness Day an even bigger success in 2017 – though I’m not quite sure where we go from a two week double-decker bus tour? What is clear is that year-on-year the demand for delivering retirement support and guidance to the public continues to grow and we are committed to helping everybody have access to the right support.
David Holton is Corporate Propositions Director at Scottish Widows