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Scaling the future: the competitive advantage that lies in scaling super fund comms and compliance

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Scaling the future: the competitive advantage that lies in scaling super fund comms and compliance

SECTION 1

Can you confidently attract and retain members?

Superannuation funds are under pressure, perhaps like never before. Increased scrutiny arising from the Royal Commission has put more importance on meeting regulatory and compliance obligations, building public trust, improving governance and culture.

Then there’s the economic instability created by the coronavirus pandemic, which has impacted asset value, increased market volatility and risk, and resulted in unexpected drawdowns.

Beyond that, changing consumer demands mean funds must focus on delivering product and service innovations to satisfy increasingly sophisticated member expectations.

Under these tough conditions it is super funds that proactively invest in their their business process efficiency and capacity—particularly around customer communications—that will be poised to engage members, and gain an edge over competitors.

Looking for opportunities to scale in the current environment is wise because it helps funds address a myriad of challenges including:

A greater need to reduce operating costs
More competition for new members
Higher rates of churn among existing members
More demand for responsive and personalised service

Scaling is the epitome of ‘do more with less’. It enables funds to generate value more effortlessly because revenue arises from approaches that add few costs but create a big impact to employee and member experience, and continue to generate value over time.

That’s also why scalable approaches are smart for funds of all sizes. Whether your focus is on attaining mega fund status, merging to achieve growth, or better targeting a niche—scaling enables you to lift productivity, cut costs, reduce fees and improve performance.

Efficient and scalable systems help funds, both small and large, to produce the results and relationships that underpin a great employee and member experience, despite leaner operating budgets and more hoops to jump through.

One of the most important facets of competing at scale is being able to keep members informed and engaged through timely, effective and quality communication at every interaction. Customer communications that are inefficient or ineffective hinder your chances of keeping current members happy as you concurrently attract more and handle a growing compliance burden.

In the pursuit of sustainable growth, every interaction with members matters. Clear and consistent customer communication processes that can seamlessly expand as your fund scales will give your organisation greater confidence under strain. For example, changing the frequency and expanding the channels of communications for members is key to retaining loyal members. And this does not have to come at a high cost of serve.

“Super funds have an immediate opportunity to meet the growing unmet advice needs of Australians, but must first ensure they have a strategy and operating model which enables them to deliver services their members need efficiently, at scale, and in the best interests of members.”

—KPMG, Super Insights 2020

SECTION 2

Why customer communications management (CCM) is a secret weapon when it comes to scaling

In the superannuation industry there’s been a growing focus on building larger funds, which has also driven a number of mergers. While size may support economies of scale that can help funds manage compliance and lower fees—these gains still hinge on the underlying approaches being effective and scalable.

Smaller funds can fast-track the maturation of business processes and compliance measures, and reach more members more easily, by introducing scalable systems. After all, scale is critical to the ‘disruptive innovation’ that has allowed start-ups to compete with, or overtake, larger incumbents in many industries.

The efficiency that come from scale is also about cutting the cost to serve and optimising member experiences at every touchpoint. With approaches that leverage digitisation and automation, and enable agility, any fund can amplify its efforts without a significant increase in spending or headcount.

Scale also enhances a funds’ ability to deliver on members’ expectations for transparency and choice. By scaling its processes and systems effectively, a super fund can more readily expand and adapt their capabilities, products, and services to meet changing customer preferences.

 

CCM is a powerful way for super funds to enable scalability.

By leveraging their CCM systems, super funds benefit from scalable approaches to managing the customer experience across inbound and outbound:

Giving members the right information at the right time
Implementing frictionless inbound interactions that empower members and reduce manual effort
Generating accurate communications that help you adhere to regulatory reform
Enhancing a free flow of communication to help create more loyal members

Consider this scenario: a customer completes a web form with fields that dynamically adapt depending on their responses, and ensures they are provided with accurate declaration information. The form is linked to back end systems and approval workflows that expedite and automate processing of the form and communications back to the member. This kind of scalable approach allows a member to skip the phone queue and achieve their goals with minimal fuss. At the same time, the fund is able to tick off compliance, reduce administrative costs and time, and gain a reliable audit trail.

Keeping members accurately informed requires future-proofed systems that can handle evolving compliance mandates, product changes, and a growing number of communications channels.

An example of this is the proposed change to the Electronic Transactions Act 1999, which would deem the provision of an email address to be consent to interact via electronic communications, effectively making the default form of communication for superannuation funds electronic.
Members would have to opt-in to interact via paper. Funds would be wise to prepare for this, should the Act be changed.

5 ways scalable CCM solutions drive super fund growth

Better CCM practices help scaling super funds:

Legislation changes regularly, and the prudential watchdog (APRA) has a raft of initiatives planned to maintain the resilience of the financial system—which includes addressing underperformance in the superannuation industry, and ensuring funds can demonstrate value-for-money member outcomes.

Campaigns or acquisitions that boost member ranks must be backed by regular, informative communications if you expect to build lasting relationships. Smoother onboarding and inbound interactions result in fewer member issues that can be resolved faster. Automated workflows and reliable distribution of communications enables teams to focus on effective messaging and personalised touches that members crave.

Scaling communications helps funds reach more members with less effort and expense by streamlining and integrating inbound and outbound content delivery across multiple touch points. Centralised management of the member experience also avoids the risk of silos and miscommunication within your team.

Proposed changes to how you design and share product-related information necessitates watertight governance across the entire lifecycle of financial products. Reliable customer communication systems with the capacity to scale make it straightforward to issue new products with minimal risk.

Satisfy members’ desire for responsive, personalised service and real-time capabilities across all inbound and outbound interactions. Frictionless experiences across an omni channel marketing landscape is easier when your back-end systems can handle variations in volume and outputs.

“Trustees must understand their members’ needs and create an experience, product and service to meet (or exceed) these. Greater agility is required to develop new capabilities and offerings and deliver to members quickly.”

— PwC, Superannuation Matters Edition 1, 2020

SECTION 3

The factors that inform how to scale

What factors should influence where you focus your efforts to implement more scalable customer communications?
The signs point to significant compliance changes over the coming years for super funds, and adherence will be closely scrutinised by financial regulators. Inbound communication matters just as much as outbound when it comes to compliance so the forms and processes you develop to engage new and existing members must be compliant, and able to be rapidly updated.

CCM systems that offer automated business processing will give scaling organisations greater agility, allowing them to quickly react and adapt through:

  • Dynamic response processes and easily customisable templates
  • Tools to assess and process customer documents during onboarding processes
  • Oversight of customer complaints across all channels
  • Intuitive web forms that make capturing the correct information easier
  • The ability to integrate and use data from other systems (e.g., CRM, billing)

As an example, AFSA is recommending a productivity measure that would make advice more accessible to members via a Record of Advice (RoA) rather than the more comprehensive Statement of Advice (SoA).

If adopted, this would include a set of rules about when a RoA or SoA should be used and, more importantly, what content should be included.

Using a CCM solution to assemble, personalise, send and store—on the fly—RoAs or SoAs from agreed and mapped pre-approved content would give any super fund a compliance productivity edge.

Scale requires reducing manual processing and removing barriers to members being able to access the information and service they need. For instance, a PDF on a website isn’t scalable since it needs to be manually updated in the back end.

If only some parts of a process are digitally enabled, human intervention can create bottlenecks and frustration. Customers dislike having to re-explain their issue or request. They want their problem solved the first time they make contact and expect consistent and personalised service no matter which channel they use.

An integrated approach allows for fully digitised and frictionless interactions across the customer lifecycle. Seek out functionality that helps you to:

  • Capture data that enables you to understand customer journeys
  • Automate processes with fail safes for exceptions, e.g. fee waivers
  • Define business rules and embed these into your processes
  • Achieve real-time records of interactions across multiple channels
  • Eliminate information silos giving staff a single view of the customer
  • Establish communications audit trails to support continuous improvement
Improving how your team works together internally to deliver a great member experience is essential. A lack of clarity about roles, responsibilities or what’s required to produce a quality and compliant piece of communication is a drain on productivity and the antithesis of what’s needed to scale.

Implement a system that centralises customer communication management from end-to-end and improves collaboration by:

  • Unifying communication and customer experience management
  • Tracking shared content and changes to content
  • Automating approval workflows to get appropriate responses/decisioning faster
  • Giving teams visual, collaborative online tools to prototype new content and share tasks
  • Allowing communications to be tested within a shared environment
  • Provide a complete audit trail of all interactions for regulatory requirements
Investing in foundational cloud-based systems that deliver a vast improvement in the speed, scalability and effectiveness of your communications and compliance management ensures you’ll achieve a positive return.

Well-designed approaches streamline the work involved in creating and distributing accurate, informative outbound communications. In addition, it both simplifies and improves the quality of inbound interactions, resulting in a reduced burden on customer service and fewer errors or oversights. Great digital experiences let members handle simple tasks on their own—that’s cost-effective but it also reduces frustration (and by extension, churn, which creates a significant expense).

Costs can also be reduced through:

  • Integration and simplification of workflows, enabling your fund to move towards 100% digitalisation of communications and business processes
  • A reduction in manual handling of tasks and interactions through tailored digital experiences
  • Elimination of duplicated effort – for instance, omni channel templates that render communications based on the member’s choice of delivery method
  • Supporting high-volume communications such as batch letters and volume printing
  • Supporting on-demand member interaction based on enquiries and/or applications
The relationship between a super fund and its members is built on trust. Connecting with, educating, advising and listening to members are essential for a fund to maintain this trust.

Member engagement is experiencing a shake-up due to digital platforms such as websites, social media, mobile and voice. Having more ways to reach members can also mean more ways to disappoint and disillusion them if you’re not careful.

Focusing on digitising your omnichannel interactions ensures that you leave members with positive emotions and confidence in your organisation’s ability to manage their retirement savings.

Prioritise:

  • Leveraging data to customise communications in meaningful ways without the effort, based on their history with your organisation and unique attributes such as demographic or language
  • Digitising and automating personalised experiences to ensure tailoring messages doesn’t result in onerous back-end processes
  • Capturing data and use it to segment your members, analyse the success of different campaigns and communications through advanced BI tools
How you manage communications is already a formal lever for driving accountable and compliant behaviour. Embracing a digital, scalable approach to member communications can help super funds to double-down on creating a culture where great communication is valued and further nurtured.

Consultancy PwC points out that ‘Member outcomes are shaped by how your people behave. So too are operational, financial, people and risk outcomes.”

To turn culture into a strategic advantage, funds should focus on achieving the best possible outcome across select, high impact behaviours. In other words, desired behaviours that are likely to:

  • Signal that something new is happening
  • Spread organically throughout the organisation
  • Drive improved performance

Customer communication management is a high-impact area for super funds. Unlock real value by giving your team a user-friendly communications management solution that makes it easy to engage members while also enabling employees to cross-skill—and gives both members and employees mobility, so the behaviours can more easily take hold.

An approach that let you digitise interactions and collect data across the entire journey gives your fund a clearer view of what members want—which promotes a customer-centric culture where innovative ideas can flourish.

Mobilising your culture around improved member communication can also be directly tied to member outcomes and measured through improved feedback or a reduction in complaints. An intuitive customer communications management platform like virsaicTM helps super funds do this at scale.

SECTION 4

Managing scale by leveraging technology to manage complexity

The improved operational processes and internal collaboration we’ve discussed is difficult to achieve without applying technology in clever ways. Simply put, scalable technologies underpin organisational scale. Ensuring you have the systems in place to accommodate growth is essential, which typically involves digital transformation.

Managing the growing complexity of member interactions across different touchpoints requires solutions that give you end-to-end control of critical business processes, that are user-friendly and flexible, and allow you to simplify complex workflows that can create bottlenecks. Being able to understand and manage interdependencies between existing systems and processes is also vital.

Given funds’ need to understand member outcomes, operational performance and compliance to a finer degree—technologies that support in-depth analytics and reporting are a wise choice.

A modern CCM system that’s configurable and designed for scalability ensures that your approach to communications and compliance can evolve in line with your business needs—and as technologies evolve. That helps ensure your technology investment will deliver a positive return
on investment over the long-term.

The act of scaling requires adding new approaches and leaving behind some practices.

Seek to build out your system with technologies that are:

  • Cloud-based with secure and reliable cloud services
  • API ready to enable seamless integrations
  • Omni channel, supporting the methods customers prefer
  • Focused on automation to reduce rework and save time
  • Updated in real-time to provide immediacy to interactions
  • Augmented with business intelligence and data analytics
  • Able to match your business rules for consistent, high-volume activity

 

Seek to eliminate inflexible aspects of your system such as:

Multiple solutions that don’t share data, content, artwork
or workflows
Separate repositories for different customer data
A disconnected view of interactions, hampering auditability
Slow and manual production of large communications batch sizes

“Smarter funds will take two key steps. Firstly, they will see automation as a way to drive efficiency and member outcomes. Secondly, they will pay careful attention to aligning their people and technology
into intelligent operations.”

—Shaun McKenna, Journal of Superannuation Management,
The Top Ten Digital Trends in Superannuation

SECTION 5

Conclusion

Scalability promises to elevate an organisation’s capacity, efficiency and stability. Super funds of all sizes benefit from systems that make it easier to adapt to heightened complexity, limit costs, and grow their market share.

Scaling improves funds chances of thriving under any circumstances. Optimised operational processes also make merging with other funds a more appealing and easy-to-manage proposition.

Yet, successfully competing at scale will be shaped by foundational systems you embrace to manage critical processes such as customer communications and compliance.

Flexible and holistic communications, driven by an integrated and feature rich CCM platform, lets your fund purposefully engage with your membership base regardless of its size, changes in regulation, market forces, or customer preferences.

Members form the backbone of every super fund’s success. So, whether growth or consolidation is on the cards: prioritise a CCM system that will underpin more effective, timely, and prolific engagement with your members.

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