Partner Insight: In recent years, pensions administrators have seen scheme member engagement increase significantly. The advent of pension freedoms in 2015 and the increased choices faced by members have led to a sea-change in the levels and types of queries administrators are dealing with.
Indeed, in the last few years, administration work volumes have grown significantly. Our own data, as an example, shows that data change requests have leapt by over 50% since 2013. Retirement enquiries have increased by more than 30% while transfer out enquiries have jumped by a staggering 200% in the same period.
This increase in volumes has been accompanied by heightened member expectations and an increase in independent financial adviser involvement. Members are more knowledgeable about pension benefits than ever before. This represents both a challenge and an opportunity for administrators - with the obvious challenge of an increased workload acting as an impetus to examine their processes and systems with a view to making member-focused improvements.
It also brings into focus the need to continue making efficiency and productivity improvements, so that administrators can not only provide a great member experience, but manage costs for the trustees/sponsor as well.
So how are administrators responding?
Administrators' ability to handle a growing number of incoming enquiries is central to their success in dealing with these changes. Although online contact is growing, phone calls are also increasing, as members tend to find phone contact the quickest way to get in touch; it also enables them to talk through any further queries as their options are explained. Investing in ways to tackle increasing call volumes - which cover increasingly complex issues - is vital.
The best administrators have invested in their call handling capabilities, giving their people the knowledge and skills to resolve queries on a single call. As well as improving the immediate member experience, this has wider benefits too - at Aon, for instance, the fact that 75% of our enquiries are now concluded on the first call frees up the day-to-day team to focus on more technical transactions, driving further efficiencies.
Delivering consistent messaging is also important; members need to receive reliable information no matter who they speak to, which in turn depends on administration staff having access to the data they need and the knowledge required to interpret and communicate this clearly.
Using the management information at their disposal enables administrators to analyse workflows and resource accordingly. When enquiries are known to jump - for instance, around the end of the tax year, or when new legislation comes into force - smart administrators will increase the available call handlers to ensure volumes can be dealt with efficiently.
Click here to read the Guide in full and Aon's core tips to manage the changing pensions landscape.