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Pension websites fall short at customer education

Close-up of an array of UK fifty pound notes

Financial service providers’ websites are failing to help the sector address one of its biggest challenges according to the Head of Marketing at Moneypenny – pension education.

Hannah Stringer, heads the marketing team at Moneypenny, which provides outsourced communications support to thousands of financial services businesses across the UK. She believes financial companies could do more to make websites ‘engage with people in an authentic way’ – a solution which could tackle the pensions blind spot that will see many people miss out on the retirement they hoped for.

She said: “Greater financial knowledge means better education and that has to start with a concerted effort to tackle the British view that ‘we don’t talk about money’. The only way this can be addressed is by adopting a more real and honest dialogue with customers and giving real consideration to the customer journey.”

Research published earlier this year highlighted the importance of online channels for customers – particularly for the over 55 age group (54% of whom prefer to access information via websites) and also the 18-34 age group(54% of which prefer mobile banking apps).  With the average time adults spend on line per day increasing dramatically (4 hours 2 minutes per day in April 2020 – a 30 minute increase on seven months earlier) – it’s surprising that live chat – where website visitors can ask questions and seek advice in real time- remains underutilised by the sector.

Hannah continued: “One of the most striking factors about live chat is that people are willing to divulge more about themselves using this medium than any other. Their perceived ‘silly questions’ which they might not want to voice over the phone, are much more likely to be asked because of the relatively anonymity of live chat. This, combined with the option to have live chat windows pop up on certain pages or after certain time limits, presents a powerful opportunity for pension providers. It can help to stimulate conversation and disseminate important information in a more effective, engaging and dynamic.”

A recent survey by Moneypenny revealed that financial institutions are still falling short of customer’s care expectations – with  25% of customers believing Covid is being used as an excuse for long call waiting times and poor service. Hannah believes this is part of the issue.

She added: “Customer care must be prioritised and that lives and dies by how easy it is to get in touch. When people have an enquiry they want it dealt with there and then. It’s true of the phone, but even more so online. Financial service providers have been slow to recognise the inherently impatient nature of customers which has led so many other sectors to improve customer care. If you’re trying to educate a whole generation of people into making better financial choices you must improve communication on customers’ terms and embrace all channels.”

Live chat is used widely in many other professional services sectors – particularly in legal, lending and accountancy – because of its ability to improve customer care with well-timed pop-ups, as well as to keep volume away from the phones and generate new leads. Hannah believes the pandemic has created an opportunity for pensions providers.

She said: “The pandemic has changed the rules of engagement. We’ve all been spending more time online which for the older generation in particular, has improved their technical proficiency and made them willing to engage through new channels. Greater use of online channels by pensions providers could really drive better engagement with the over 55 customer – after all we already know websites are their preferred place for information and they’ll be making more critical decisions about their pending retirement.

“It helps to solve the longer term issue of how you create more financially savvy future generations too.   Today’s young people are fluent in instant messaging and expect that from all the brands they engage with – including financial institutions. Using these tools now would help pensions providers to reach out to future savers, build rapport and provide greater financial education without delay.”

Now more than ever, consumers are focused on ensuring they’re getting the most out of financial products, whether it’s a credit card, insurance policy or pension. By ensuring information is easy to find and understand, providers can help people organise their finances and build happy, loyal customers in the process.

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