We have a number of ways we listen to potential and existing customers to make sure that we are doing the right things. Overall in 2012 our UK businesses have commissioned 35 pieces of market research to gain better insights and feedback. Some of the highlights are shown below.
Our customer community was set up in March 2011. With more than 2,000 registered customers, the community helps us keep close to their needs and wants. Over the past two years, more than 1,300 customers have interacted with us over 12,000 times. We have run more than 40 topics ranging from testing product propositions, communication testing to mini-ethnographic studies, which involves us sending five customers camcorders to capture moments from their everyday lives. The research carried out through the community has enriched our knowledge about our customers and enabled us to take informed decisions about product and service development.
The community members reflect our customer base and range from 18–80 years of age, with varying levels of confidence in financial matters. It is run by an independent research company, Join the Dots, who are industry experts in this field.
Some of the recent topics we discussed on the community are shown below.
State of the nation (Dec 2012) – we tried to understand customer confidence in 2013, their primary concerns, and expectations from financial services companies. We ran a similar study in 2011 which helped us to see where opinions and behaviour had changed
Customer focused language (Aug 2012) – it is essential we communicate with our customers in the language and channel they require. Our Risk business have been working to improve their communications, to make them more customer-friendly. We tested 3 ‘new style’ letters with our members who found them significantly better and simpler to read and understand. There was some specific feedback which the team found very helpful. We have now implemented these changes and told the community members about it. The research, driven by our colleagues in compliance, embodies customer centricity
Motor insurance proposition (Nov 2012) – we tested our motor insurance proposition with our members to understand where we could add value. Our members enabled us to identify our key differentiator and helped us validate the proposition
WHEN GWEN, RICHARD, MARIA AND STUART VISITED HOVE
The Endowments maturities team invited four of their customers for a ’closeness’ session in our Hove office to understand more about them and their 25 year journey with us.
Here’s what our employees had to say.
While the customers were pleased with the service, they were surprised that we were ’just letting them go’. All of them wanted to know more about our offerings and encouraged us to reach out to our customers because they expect a relationship with us – after all they had been our customers for 25 years!
Maria said, "We didn‘t have a relationship from the beginning and it just never developed. I would have liked to have one."
Our literature was generally seen as simple, clear and professional. However, we are perhaps loosing out on an opportunity to inform our valued customers about what else we offer them. Customers expect a more proactive relationship with us and some ‘expected’ that we would offer them a good deal for being loyal.
Gwen said, “I suppose I was hoping they would offer me a special deal because I was a customer. But they didn’t, so I found something better online!”
Employees also found the session useful and walked away with a couple of clear actions. The maturities team are now considering an ‘approaching maturity’ letter to be sent 6 months before maturity. Furthermore, conversations are now in place to see if we can offer our maturing customers a simple structured deposit product.
WHEN OUR CUSTOMERS VISITED OUR Pensions claims Team
As part of Retail Savings operations’ (RSO) strategic objective to connect with our customers, the Pension Claims area invited four customers from our ’Your Voice’ customer community to come to Hove and meet the team. The purpose of the session was to allow the customers to give their view on us and, in particular, the quality of service that they’ve experienced. It was also a great opportunity for the team to meet our customers with whom they connect day in and day out. The four members chosen all have pension products and are all at various stages of their retirement event.
Here’s what our employees had to say on the back of the visit.
Legal & General is a trusted partner who provide a ‘safe and reliable’ place for their money, particularly when talking about their pension product. In the current environment of economic uncertainty our customers saw this as a real positive. Interestingly, while safety, reliability and performance were considered key factors, they also indicated that consistency was equally important.
They liked the fact that we did not appear to have changed too much over the years. They considered us to be a pillar of the financial services market that remained true to our values. They much preferred our approach of evolving to meet the changing needs of customers. The more radical change approaches of some of our competitors was not viewed favourably. This level of change from companies, which our customers also use, has made them nervous about that company’s direction and standing in the market.
When it comes to communications, it seems that, by only contacting customers once a year, we are in fact sending out the message that we don’t want to talk to them and are not interested in their ongoing needs or potential for further investment! By the same token, sending information for the sake of it is a useless exercise and can do more harm than good. We need to find the right ‘communications balance’.
Our customers want quality information that is clear, personal to them and timely. “What’s happening with Legal & General and my product?” and “What have you got that I need?” are the key messages we should be delivering.
The panel also had a higher level of technical expertise than we might have anticipated, but all said they were happy with the current level of digital technology we provide. The only real area for change was regarding the option to choose to have communications by email rather than by standard post. One of the key reasons for this was that it’s simply easier to keep all their filing electronically these days instead of in folders and files.
On the subject of service, it was noted that customers now only concentrate on what does not go well, as good customer service is a minimum requirement these days. It was noted that it is now be much easier to complain than it ever was before and customers are now more likely to complain about poor service. The panel suggested that being proactive was the way forward when it came to customer service and were very complimentary about the bravery and foresight of RSO to connect with its customers in this way. They felt it showed a real commitment to wanting to get things right for them.
The key message from the day was that the Pension claims team should continue to focus on making it simple and straightforward for our customers to deal with us. If they ask us to do something they expect it to be done and done correctly. If we make them a promise, they expect us to live up to it, or let them know in advance if we can’t. If we communicate with them they expect the communication to be clear, concise, relevant and in good English. From this simple message, direct from the customer, the Pension claims team will be working to make process improvements and display behaviours that deliver on what customers want.
This exciting new approach to gaining customer feedback proved to be a hit not only with our customers, but also with the team members who spoke to them.
“I found it to be a very positive experience and it was great to learn that there’s a lot of things that we do really well, but also to understand where we sometimes go wrong and take that away to make changes to the way we do things in order to better their experience.” - Jenny Brennan, RSO Pension claims
“I found the ‘meet the customer’ session very insightful. Being treated as an individual seemed very important to all the customers.” - Katy Hale, RSO Pension claims
Des Haren Operations manager RSO claims said, “It is crucial that as a business we never lose sight of the people who are our customers. These types of event remind each of us that behind every contract number there is a person with individual needs and expectations and as a service area it is our role to ensure we meet these. This was a milestone for RSO. We continually look to find ways of connecting with our customers and this was a great way of doing it. I hope it becomes the first of many.”
GETTING OUR SENIOR LEADERS OUT THERE
During 2012, 26 of our senior executives were involved in ‘customer closeness’ sessions with existing customers of ours to understand the every day matters that affect their lives and how their relationship with us was in practice.
Some of the things that we learnt from these sessions included:
- How the economic situation is impacting their financial situations – they are thinking more about finances even if they are not taking any action
- We are a trusted brand and for these reason our customers would value our help in planning for the future as their lives unfold
- Our customers do not really feel they have any relationship with us, mainly through lack of communication
- They have little understanding of the breadth of our product offering as a company
- They would value us ‘telling’ them what they might need or what might help them – ‘nudge me’ about what I should be thinking about
- Keep communication clear and relevant to me.
- This has provided us with valuable insights into the way we do business.