Articles - Delay is not an option

It’s clear at this stage that the disruption from Covid19 is not a temporary glitch and, whatever happens now, the post pandemic world will not be the same as it was prior to this global pandemic; the impact of the pandemic has been far-reaching enough to permanently change the way we live. Those businesses that were just hunkering down to weather the storm must realise that they need a new strategy for their business, one that is designed to maximize the opportunities that will arise from this new customer environment.

 By Tom Murray, Head of Product Strategy for LifePlus Solutions at Majesco.

 Given that the primary effect of the pandemic has been to change how we live our lives and the degree of social contact we have, it is inevitable that interaction between businesses and consumers will be altered in a fundamental way. The increase in online shopping has ruptured one of the fundamentals about consumer behavior; now the focus of all businesses has to be less on the footfall in the area of their premises and more on the digital footprints across their website. If a business can’t reach its customers digitally and deal with all aspects of the interaction online, it is going to miss out on the opportunities that arise from the new breed of home-based consumers.

 For life and pension providers, this is a major challenge. Most their business is still derived from a face-to-face environment, where advisers in homes or workplaces assess the customer’s needs and make recommendations for financial products to meet those needs. The meetings tend to be quite long, as the strategy is to build a deep relationship with the customer that enables the financial adviser to work with the customer across his or her lifetime, and to recommend new strategies as the client’s circumstances change.

 This is not an easy business approach to replicate over the Internet. Many people find it difficult to sit in front of a computer and enter a lot of information; it’s far easier to sit and answer questions from an individual than it is to go through screens entering data. Yet without that amount of customer information, how can they be advised correctly about their finances or encouraged to purchase new products. Even the phone doesn’t substitute well for face to face interaction as it is harder to demonstrate the value of the products and judge the individual’s reaction to the recommendations than it is in a face to face meeting. This can make it much harder to close the deal.

 Technology leaders and Fintechs have been exploring the digital route for some time but now it is clear that a digital first strategy is not a luxury but a requirement for all players in the life and pensions industry. The world is not going back to a time when direct contact was the primary means of communication with potential clients. Those life and pension providers that aren’t revisiting their strategies now are denying the obvious. Re-imagining all customer interactions from a digital standpoint, including how to engage with new and potential customers must become the dominating transformative project for all providers. It’s not enough just to have a portal for those customers who want to interact online; what’s needed is a strategy to refocus the entire company on a digital approach as the standard means of customer interaction.

 All business processes need to be supported by new systems and platforms that can deliver a truly digital environment for the provider’s customer base. Beyond that, the post-pandemic environment requires re-thinking the whole digital engagement process, partnering with companies offering related services and becoming part of a complete eco-system of financial and linked services that can attract and retain customers.

 The long-term effect of the pandemic has been to ensure that technology’s role in our day to day lives has accelerated dramatically. Humans are social creatures and cutting down on physical social interaction means moving it online for large segments of the population. By the time Covid 19 has been beaten back, this will be the new normal. As the public grow used to the efficiencies that a digital services provide, they will not want to return to the old ways. Any company that is not currently obsessing about how to engage digitally with both its customers and potential new customers is going to be in a difficult position; the old world it is waiting to get back to will never reappear.




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