Consumer Satisfaction, Key To Insurance and Pension Sectors Growth: Paper Presented At The Maiden IPEN Insurance and Pension Roundtable 2023 Held on Thursday, 23 Day of November, 2023 at Radisson Hotel Ikeja; By Ivor Takor, mni Esq.
Who Is a Consumer And What Is Consumer Satisfaction
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines a consumer as a person who buys goods or uses services. A consumer is the one who purchases the product for his/her own need and uses or consumes it. The consumer is the one who is the end-user of any good and service.
A customer is a person who buys goods or services from shop or business. A person of a specified kind with whom one has to deal with in business. In retail business transactions, consumers are also referred to as customers. Therefore from we will be interchanging the two in this discussion.
The same Oxford Advance Learners Dictionary, defines satisfaction as the good feeling that you have when you have achieved or when that which you wanted to happen does happen.
Insurance as well as pension companies are all involved in retail businesses, selling their products to end-users.
According to Alaina Franklin (2023), customer satisfaction is a measure of how happy your customers are with your product or service. And for many businesses, it is the difference between success and failure.
Consumer satisfaction is also a measure of how well a company’s product, services and overall consumer experience meet consumer expectations. It reflects a company’s business health by showing how well the company’s products or services resonate with buyers.
One thing that is certain in consumer satisfaction is that when consumers are satisfied, business will boom.
In the digital age we are now, consumers extensively research for products across various platforms., from user reviews to influencer insights. They meticulously compare options before making purchasing decisions. However, winning loyalty of consumers especially in the pension industry, goes beyond providing the services imposed on Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) in the Pension Reform Act 2014. Same goes for insurance companies. It demands more.
Now is the right time for leaders in both insurance and pension industries to rethink, redefine and transform what their teams deliver and how this is delivered.
Transforming service delivery models will improve inside-led decisions making, so that insurers and PFAs can exploit market opportunities in a strategic, safe and informed way. Building an inclusive culture for service delivery has to be deliberate.
Modern consumers, seek brands that actively listen and appreciate them. Neglecting this aspect risk loyalty loss to competitors. For the PFAs, the transfer window has been opened and Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs) are transferring their accounts from one PFA to another.
Insurance policyholders have grown to expect the same simple, seamless and positive interactions with their insurers that they experience with every other aspects of their lives. If those expectations are not met they will quickly move on. The stakes of consumers loyalty and retention are high in the insurance industry as they are in the pension industry.
In the insurance industry, the fact that I used Insurance company A for my vehicle license this year does not place me under any obligation to continue with the same company the following year.
Customer experience is the totality of cognitive, affective, sensory, and behavioral consumer responses during all stages of the consumption process including pre-purchase, consumption, and post-purchase stages. It is the impression customers have for a brand as a whole throughout all aspects of the buyer’s journey.
I have spoken with lots of people about pension, especially those who fit into Micro Pension Plan and the prevailing view is that saving for retirement is complicated, boring and even scary. It is hard to disagree.
This means that to genuinely engage the unengaged with ‘pension stuff’, the first challenge is to deal with these perception. If there are no consumers, there will not be pension or insurance industries and one cannot then be talking of satisfying anybody.
What about the people in the picture, the engaged? Those brave souls have made conscious decisions to actively engage with saving for the future or taking a policy. How much effort has the pension or insurance industries expended over the past years on making it both easy and intuitive to act upon that fragile spark of motivation, to make the end-to-end consumer experience as seamless and painless as possible.
Creating a Brand Advocate
Outside regulatory compliance frameworks for customers service delivery, companies should be developing a better understanding of what makes the difference between a one-time buyer, a returning customer/consumer and a serial brand advocate. When I talk of brand advocates, I am not referring to those social media influencers, being contracted by companies to advocate for or market their products. Ultimately, creating a brand advocate is less about the product or service and more about the experience.
A fundamental organizational change of mindset that focuses on consumers along with operational and IT improvements, can generate a 20% to 30% uplift in customer satisfaction; (Source: McKinsey)
Speed, convenience, helpful employees and friendly service matter most to over 70% customers; (Source: PWC)
57% of customers won’t recommend a business with a ‘bad’ website. (Source: Forbes)
This focus on consumer experience has directly contributed to a range of developments that people typically now think of as standards in just about every sector. These aren’t needed to win, they are needed just to compete:
• Mobile app for simple transactions;
• Call Centre;
• Live webchat;
• Proactive product nudges and active order (or issue resolution) updates by text messages, email or app notification.
• Paperless authorisation of complex transactions.
These consumers experience features have become so commonplace that it is hard to remember a time when they were not around. I am not so sure that apart from the mandatory regulatory compliance requirements, there has been quite the same pace of progress when it comes to consumer experience within the pension or insurance industries in Nigeria. That is not to say there haven’t been any important developments.
Key Consumer Experience Features
Let’s attempt to highlight key consumer experience features that may be useful across both industries, which might look something like this:
Educational videos explaining in a dynamic way key schemes and products mechanics;
Dedicated Contact Centres allowing consumers to speak directly with someone about their challenges and other matters;
Generic websites providing 24/7 access to explanatory information; and
Consumer Self service enabling consumers to see their personal details, amend the details and even carry out transactions.
Whats striking is that this list hasn’t actually evolved very much over the past five years–a period when the consumer experience landscape has changed enormously. The need now is to look at the end-to-end experience- from unengaged to engaged and beyond. From a consumer perspective, not just a process perspective.
What Works Well
The following have been identified as those things that work well and matters most to members across key-end-to-end journeys like from enrolling to retirement in the pension industry and from purchasing a policy to payment in the event the need arises in insurance:
Help me to play
Engage me via my preferred channels.
Keep me informed proactively
Make it easy to share information and give authority
Explain things clearly online and in print
This includes: live web chats, electronic document sharing, paperless giving of information through web forms and proactive nudge messaging via email, text messages or in-app notifications.
Three Important Things Suppliers Of Goods And Services Should Have At The Back Of Their Minds
There are three principal things a suppliers of goods and services must have at the back of their minds: the first is that the consumer has demands, which they should strive to meet; secondly, the consumer has a choice and finally has a right.
Consumers Have Demands
Consumers have demands and these demands can be satisfied with the right retail technology.
Customers Want Products To Be Delivered Where They are.
In a digital world, consumers enjoy places with flexible hours. They want to be able to shop when they want and where they are. They do not want to be confined in a system where they must visit your office or outlet before they can purchase your product or get you to service their complains. Therefore you must have a digital presence where your customers are.
Make it easy for consumers to reach out and ask support questions on their channels of choice. It is also for companies to have answers to frequently asked questions.
Offering support via messaging apps like WhatsApp, X (former Twitter), and Facebook helps businesses creat that same sense of 24 hours availability. These are the same channels customers use to interact with friends and family, so it gives you a chance to meet them where they already are.
They Want The Products To Be Delivered Where They Are.
Gone are the days when consumers in your type of business hunt for products in specific locations or offices. The modern expectation is for you to bring the products to them, precisely where and when they desire. This entails seamless delivery from your e-commerce platform to their preferred location. A system of click, pay and collect. This is very important for the insurance industry.
They Want Recognition
No one likes to be treated like a number. Today people interact with retailers across different channels, and they expect to be recognise as loyal customers no mater if they enter your shop doors or on Facebook page.
According to a research by Accenture, 75 percent of consumers are not more likely to buy from a retailer that knows their purchase history or recognise them by name.
They Don’t Want Queues
Modern consumers are both busy and impatient. Time wasted in queues for service or payments is a major turnoff. Essentially, prolonged waiting prompts customers to seek alternatives for their needs. Provide a system where customers can scan and pay for items independently.
Technology is and investment but one that pays off when it comes to breeding loyalty with today’s demanding customers.
Consumers Have Wide Choices
In both the pension and insurance industries, there are several companies under the same regulator, providing the same products. This gives the consumer a wide range of choices. Retailers should therefore keep abreast with the ever increasing customers expectations to maintain their competitive edge.
By adjusting their services, products and technological capabilities according to consumers’ evolving preferences, retail Organisations will not only be able to capitalize on consumer shifting demands in the new normal, but also overcome the continued business challenges that will follow the industries into the future.
Consumers Have Rights
Nigeria has so many laws and regulatory agencies aimed at protecting consumers from hazardous products, goods and services as well as securing rights of consumers from sharp practices of some manufacturers, service providers and product dealers in Nigeria. Citizens earnestly yearn for improvement in quality of products, goods and services which they obtain in the course of their daily need for survival.
Just recently, the government of Nigeria promulgated the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (FCCPA), and this new piece of legislation has propensity to introduce new developments in our economy while promoting fair, efficient and competitive in markets in Nigeria with a view of to eliminating monopolistic practices of manufacturers of products and services.
In the pension industry, consumer satisfaction should mean that every telephone call, every email and website visit, of every consumer will have the potential to inform and influence the way the company improve what it does and how. In the insurance industry, keeping policyholders happy is no longer a nice to have, but a need to have.
It is time to start improving the consumer experience with and for the consumer, not to and at them. The earlier proverbial “it’s a sellers market” no longer holds sway. What holds now is “the consumer is king”.