HESTA's Georgie Obst

Tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are driving members’ expectations of customer experiences which presents a major headache for superannuation funds.

Georgie Obst, HESTA’s general manager – campaigns and customer growth –  told CFSM delegates on Friday that funds need to do whatever they can to exploit new technologies to help cement their position as their members’ most trusted financial services brand.

“That’s a very good role for the super funds to play particularly in the current environment,” she says,

What’s shifting she went on to say is that members now expect funds to leverage personal data to the members advantage.

Mario Garrido, head of brand behaviour change at AustralianSuper, agreed with this asessment arguing that people’s expectations of a personalised service are extremely high as a result of their interactions with other service providers.

“Members want to know what funds are doing with all the data they are collecting. They know we have access to big data and they want to understand how that drives big relevance, big wisdom and big health,” he says.

The panel also discussed the hot button topic of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning– technology that is shaping the way financial service providers engage with customers.

HESTA has very ambitious plans for AI, argues Obst, adding that at the heart of HESTER’S work on AI is how the new technology will add value to the financial future of its members.

That said, the CX specialist cited a McKinsey report which claims that many companies have invested heavily in chatbots, but the technology has failed to drive down costs in other areas.

“For instance, people are still calling the call centre,” Obst notes.

“So while we have ambitious plans they are commensurate with where our members are at the moment.”

The panel agreed that despite high level of automation in the superannuation industry, human interaction is key.

Says Garrido: “Robots more cannot show empathy, cannot be creative with regard to problems solving and can’t display passion the way humans do.”

He pointed out the world’s most sophisticated organisations understand the importance of the human element as well as how best to drive efficiencies by putting robots in place.

“As human interaction diminishes, the value of human interaction will increase,” he argues.

When it comes to customer engagement and retention, panel members agreed that the use of big data was unique for superannuation funds.

As such, when they looked outside of the industry for inspiration, there isn’t much to draw upon since funds are not interested in cross-selling, upselling or designing “sticky” mass market products.

 

Elizabeth Fry has been a financial journalist for more than 25 years and has written for a number of publications, including CFO, The Financial Times and The Australian Financial Review.
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