How schemes can improve member communications during the pandemic
The ongoing pandemic, which has trapped thousands of people at home, divided families and closed offices all over the world, has put great strain on the ways in which we communicate.
This is certainly true when it comes to how pension schemes communicate with their members.
All schemes are different and require a unique approach. But for trustees worrying about how to get the most out of their communications and boost engagement during the current health crisis, there are some simple tips to follow.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s circumstances, outcomes and goals are different, so generic content is unlikely to be very engaging.
Segmenting messaging so that it can be targeted as accurately as possible will ensure that members receive information that is relevant and drives action.
Many schemes may have already taken a segmented approach, but now is a good time to revisit their key audiences, reassess their relevancy — especially in light of changes to the workforce brought on by COVID-19 — and check whether these can be subdivided further.
Properly targeted communications will also boost engagement by ensuring that members feel like they are getting a personal touch.
Make communications multi-channel
The method that schemes use to connect with members is also important. The COVID-19 pandemic has led large numbers of people to change the way in which they communicate, with people across the country adopting video-call technology en masse to keep in touch with distant family, friends and colleagues. It’s important that member communication keeps pace with this.
Multi-channel communications that include letters, emails, video call sessions and app messaging will enable trustees to reach members in the way they prefer.
Some members will like the reassurance of paper letters they can highlight or annotate, while others (especially if they’re shielding) will prefer to handle everything electronically.
Embrace new technology
In a similar vein, now may be a good time to reassess the technology used to communicate with members. Push notifications, augmented reality and personalised online experiences are now the norm for many industries, and a number of pension schemes are already following suit.
Integrating automation is also a great way to ensure important updates reach members in a time and cost-efficient manner.
If emails have not been opened by a set date, for instance, automated systems can push out the message to the member via other channels. As long as schemes avoid being too pushy, this can be a useful way of ensuring the delivery of important messages.
Watch your language
A lot of the content issued by schemes is written by very technically knowledgeable people, but it’s always important that the language used is comprehensible, jargon-free and resonates with members. Language that’s too technical may turn members off and decrease engagement.
On the other hand, issuing communications that are too colloquial and friendly might miss the mark when trying to convey something of importance or that requires serious action.
Finding the right balance is therefore key, as communicating in a way that members can understand will also empower them to make the right decisions.
Be consistent with the brand
Now more than ever, pension communications have to fight to be seen among a sea of colour, bright images and bold tag lines. Branding and design can therefore make the difference between a member looking at a message or ignoring it.
Schemes need to create a brand look and feel that represents them, and then use it consistently for all their pension communications. With many people across the UK experiencing deep financial uncertainty, it’s vital that they can instantly and easily identify communications from their pension scheme.
Good communications show empathy
COVID-19 has presented unique challenges for communicating with pension scheme members who may be shielding or isolated, cut off from usual resources, or simply bombarded with emails and messages all marked ‘important’.
At the same time, members are keen for reassurance and clear information on their financial futures.
While the needs of every scheme are different, there is one common thread that good member communication has in common — an empathetic consideration for the preferences of each individual member.
COVID-19 has had a negative influence on the lives of so many, but it has presented an opportunity here for the pension industry to re-evaluate how it communicates.
Now is a chance for schemes to assess their processes, take the time to really understand their members, and build systems that can respond flexibly to their needs and preferences.