You Had Us At “Hello”

 In Pension, Strategy

When it comes to member service, the first sign of trouble can present a golden moment of opportunity.  Consider this: research shows that customer satisfaction is higher among those individuals who had a problem with a service provider that was resolved, than with customers who never had a problem in the first place.  At the same time, expectations are getting higher for quality of service from all providers.  Companies like Uber and Apple, with instant feedback from mobile applications or “geniuses on demand,” have demonstrated the ability to harness technology to improve the end-to-end customer experience.  So what does this mean for the modern fund office?

Provide a Superior Member Experience

Taft-Hartley and public funds need to rethink their roles as bookkeepers and information administrators in order to take a more proactive role.  Instead of member services representing a cost center, consider this an area of opportunity.

The implications of service as an opportunity are twofold: train employees to be focused on better serving member needs and build a culture around proactive solutions.  Proactive service means taking advantage of every interaction to be sure that a member is informed about new programs; for example, “have you heard about our new wellness offering?” or “would you like to register for a free health screening?”  Proactive maintenance means seizing the opportunity to ensure a member’s records are up to date; “just confirming that this is your current address?” or “I notice we don’t have an updated beneficiary designation for you”…  The first time plan participants call with a question can be the moment of truth where you’ll have them at “hello.”

Technology and people are the keys to supporting a proactive approach to the customer relationship.  Modern tools can provide visual prompts to your member services team with real-time messages tailored to specific audiences; retired versus active members, for example.  Proactive messages can even flag individual exceptions on a member’s record.  Mobile applications can also encourage members to help themselves and feel in control.  Keep in mind, however, that a proactive member service model demands stringent attention to data quality.  The information that supports your front-line representatives or feeds your mobile app must be accurate and complete.  Now’s the time for fund offices to embrace the challenge to reimagine themselves in the model of these newer service providers, whether over the phone or via technology, with an attitude that says; “I’m delighted to hear that I can help you with a problem.”  Game on!

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