There is a pithy saying often found on motivational posters and office note boards: Don’t trust words, trust actions.
While over-used yet sporadically followed, it can’t really be argued against.
There has been a flood of words from the Hayne Inquiry and, according to media reports, little action to inspire trust.
The predominant obligation for financial organisations in the wake of the Inquiry’s report is to rebuild the public’s trust by understanding needs, setting expectations in line with these needs through clear member communications, and then fanatically delivering consistently to these expectations at every stage in the member journey.
This is not about “wowing” the customer, this is not about going “above and beyond”. Real trust is built through actions – consistently delivering and fulfilling our promises at every point in the customer journey.
This cultural change all organisations must strive for can begin by treating regulatory compliance not as a necessary evil but as a proactive approach that will ensure they meet the appropriate requirements, while also gathering the information they need to improve the customer experience in both the short and long term.
Members provide the best evidence of how well an organisation complies with regulation.
Capturing their voice, and documenting their understanding of how procedures measure up, is the clearest way of proving that a business is not only compliant, but also treats members fairly.
Using a Customer Experience (CX) program to proactively approach compliance and customer treatment can confirm adherence to regulation and of course simultaneously delivering a positive experience for members.
Ensuring that customers purchase products that are suitable and meet their needs is one of the most contentious issues driving the push for new regulations.
Here is one example of how an organisation can guarantee the customer knows what they are getting:
- A customer requests information about a superannuation product or seeks comparisons via the company’s website
- Within 24 hours, the customer receives a document via email summarising all the salient features of the product they are interested in – e.g. fees and benefits. All are laid out very clearly for review.
- As part of that communication, the customer answers a few questions which will identify any risk that they have not understood the key attributes associated with the product. In addition, there is a final question which asks, quite simply, whether they want to proceed.
- Based on their response, customers can be identified that are at risk of not understanding what they are buying and a potential “mis-sell”, an alert is triggered within the organisation. A member of the customer care team will then make a call to the customer within 24 hours to explain and discuss any parts of the product that the customer wasn’t sure about.
- The customer care representative will then run through the questions again to ensure the customer is now sure about each element and is happy with their account. If there are still any areas of confusion or doubt, the representative can either recommend another product that’s more suitable or, if necessary, cancel the order.
It’s a simple process but the benefits are far-reaching.
At a customer level, it is reassuring to have a summary of what can be a fairly complex purchase, particularly with a proactive follow up to resolve any niggling doubts.
This helps get the relationship off on the right foot – vital when these are long-term products – and provides a cooling off period, or safety net for any customers who need it.
From a business perspective, there is an immediate benefit in getting the relationship with the customer off to a good start.
From a regulatory perspective, the process provides an audit trail of the customer interaction that proves the company took every reasonable step towards confirming that the customer made the right decision and that they fully understood that purchase.
How to take action now
- Ensure members understand the level of risk of the fund
Follow up initial inquiries and purchases via surveys to check whether the level of risk is fully comprehended.
CX can enable a two-way conversation with members at different life milestones and follow up with specific advice on the back of that feedback.
2. Educate members on the product and fees they will be paying
CX can avoid mis-selling by asking members targeted questions about what they have bought. This can identify potential risk from confusion and trigger follow up calls to clarify or modify the purchase.
This will not only provide valuable member feedback, it will also put on the record that every regulation and process was followed.
3. Encourage additional investment
Superannuation funds have a duty to their members’ financial security to encourage an increase in funds under management.
The challenge is how to get the message across that their future financial wealth depends on increasing investment at a time when public confidence in the industry is compromised.
CX can identify those members who are relatively happy with their investment and ready to increase it.
4. Reduce the risk of churn
Certain key points of any year can prompt members to re-evaluate their financial health by looking elsewhere for better deals.
CX provides a constant listening post that can flag these signposts, enabling proactive strategies to address members’ concerns.
Ultimately, it is all about building trust by doing the right thing by the customer – by listening to them, understanding the expectations we have set and taking action if there is a risk of misalignment – both with the individual member and then rolling out the lessons learned across the business.
And if that process ensures that companies avoid fines and penalties from regulators – well, so much the better!