The innovation and creativity you need is right in front of you


Posted on: February 7, 2020 by Magnus Schoeman

The life and pensions (L&P) industry is not synonymous with elegant, seamless customer journeys. A legacy of ageing systems and complex business processes (exacerbated by a strict regulatory environment) has resulted in what can often be a slow, frustrating experience for consumers. Journeys can sometimes be described as ‘clunky’ and a far cry from the seamless, omni-channel interfaces that policy-holders are accustomed to from other areas of their life (e.g. online retail and even personal banking).

Technology has a vital role to play in addressing this issue. By designing new systems with an unerring focus on customer and user experience, it’s realistic to expect L&P to demonstrate huge improvements in the quality of customer journeys that are delivered.

But technology is only part of the answer. Unless the frontline teams that are responsible for day-to-day customer contact are appropriately empowered and equipped, customer experience will never radically improve. So how can this be achieved?

Embed a culture of experimentation

Frontline teams are ‘at the coalface’ and best placed to spot the small changes that can make a disproportionate difference to their customers and advisers. However, these teams need to be given the right tools and skills and be able to try out new ways of working without fear of ‘getting it wrong’. By creating customer experience labs, academies and development opportunities, you embed the right skills for employees to run ‘test & learn’ sessions routinely, making it possible to break this cycle and unlock a huge source of pent-up innovation.

Walk the talk

It’s not just about the frontline teams. Senior and middle management also have a key role to play. Nothing kills an innovative culture more than top management saying ‘yes, but no’, leaving a feeling that ‘they won’t listen’ or ‘they don’t understand’. Trust your teams to come up with great proposals and resist the urge to come up with the answer for them or tell them what should do instead. Most of all, celebrate success. A few years ago, one of our teams came up with a way of replacing lots of form-filling by customers to making one simple, quick call. It could have been argued that this was a minor change, but we saw it came out of the ‘test & learn’ process and publicized it widely as a success.

Make it fun

Inevitably, one wants ideas from teams that are already busy delivering service to their customers. In order to engage and come up with improvements, injecting some fun into the process is a good starting point. Creating an appropriately playful culture can have the benefit of reinforcing a climate where experimentation is the norm and failure is recognized as part of the learning process. Initiatives like innovation competitions can be a great way of creating some buzz and allow employees to come forward in a supportive environment and pitch their ideas.

To really get the ROI from the next technology investment, don’t forget the customer service teams. Demonstrate commitment to a learning culture by giving them the license to explore and, above all, signal a fresh approach that really listens to the frontline.

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About Magnus Schoeman

Global Client Executive
Magnus is currently a client executive responsible for the relationship with a global life insurance client.   In a previous role, Magnus was the Atos client executive for the partnership with Aegon. Ultimately accountable for all the of outsourced activities of administration, underwriting, claims, IT and transformation of Aegon UK’s Protection business, Magnus was responsible for all aspects of the partnership and the overall P&L for the account.Magnus joined Atos from the UK Post Office where he was responsible for managing their largest service contracts in payments and front office BPO (including Department Work & Pensions and Royal Mail Group). Before this role, Magnus worked in IT services and BPO in Sopra Steria. His background spans 20 years of experience in leading client relationships through growth and transformation in a range of sectors (Financial Services, Insurance, Health, Transport & Logistics, Industrial Minerals).Magnus is a visiting lecturer at Cranfield School of Management where he specialises in innovation management.

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