More than ever before, we should be helping people take an interest in their pension savings. Simply meeting disclosure requirements and providing information is not going to bring about a change in how people save. When considering your communication strategy or campaign, it’s worth taking time to understand your current communication approach.
Engagement is created over time. It will take a range of media and channels, a number of different campaigns and repeated and regular activity. Building engagement and understanding will ultimately give people the confidence they need to take action. Just doing the minimum required by law will not get people in their pension. Promoting the generic benefits of pensions and explaining some of the features of your pensions scheme can help.
It’s all too easy to assume that everyone knows they need to save for their future, and assume that they are consciously ‘putting it off’. This might be true for some, but not for all. For some it might be better to focus on what they might be losing out on – for example employer contributions, while for others it might be better to focus on the benefits of starting saving earlier or later. A clear focus on the problem you are trying to solve for the customer will help you create a strong campaign.
Once we have defined the specific problem, it's then worth thinking about journey from inaction to action we want to initiate. This example sets out the high level journey from a member’s perspective.
Unfortunately initiating change will ‘wake up' our customer to the problem. Assuming that many of our employees and members are ‘in denial’ about the state of their pension savings is likely to create an emotional reaction. The Kubler-Ross change curve below summarises this journey from denial to acceptance very simply.
Engagement takes time. Most successful engagement strategies think big but start small. Taking three years to five years to build the right communication tools and channels is not uncommon. However, five years could make a big difference to someone who is mid-career or approaching retirement. Taking time to ensure that each age group receives the right messages at the right time takes careful planning and customer segmentation to avoid ‘communication overload'.
Objectives are your battle-plan. There is a tendency to set high-level, non-specific goals when it comes to pensions. This is a mistake if you want your customer to fully engage and act on the need to save for life after work. So you need to make your pension objectives SMART.
The majority of schemes surveyed have set a communication Strategy and Objectives. Interestingly our survey respondents had a very mixed approach to Strategy and Objectives. Key themes such as ‘Informed choices’, ‘providing a range of media’, ‘providing information’ were commonly cited. Sadly, a number of respondents confirmed that although they had some objectives, they were not formally agreed as part of a communication strategy and as such many felt they were only ‘fairly’ effective. Relatively few respondents have set a digital strategy, although many cited that this was something they were planning to do.
We need to be set SMART objectives as part of an overarching communication strategy. Those objectives need to be agreed with all stakeholders to ensure a clear understanding and commitment.