Clear communications make your pension fun

BeFrank
8 Sep 2015

Is taking a spare moment to check your pension app during your commute a fantasy? Not at all – about 70% of those using BeFrank’s pension products regularly log on to the app or their personal pension portal on the BeFrank website. This is one of the reasons BeFrank has been nominated for the Insurance Communication Award, an initiative by industry magazine am: and Dutch market research firm GfK.

BeFrank was nominated by a jury of experts for its transparent and effective approach to communications concerning pension arrangements. The Dutch public will go on to choose the winner from three nominees.

‘Since BeFrank was established, we have been developing pension products which put the employee centre stage, rather than the employer or the pension advisor. Ultimately, it’s about making sure that employees understand their pension arrangements and are happy with them. If they’re happy, the employer and the pension advisor will be happy as well,’ says Folkert Pama, Head of the Management Team at BeFrank.

What is the basic principle you operate on?

‘We feel that the participant’s individual pension details should always be accessible to them, wherever they are. In addition, as well as being accessible, they also have to be clear and transparent. Clarity, transparency and comprehensibility are key in all our communications with customers.’

Why do you deserve the award?

‘For us, this approach isn’t restricted to a specific campaign – and we wouldn’t want it to be. Communicating clearly about pensions is a way of life for us. Everything we do serves to support that clear and transparent communication. All our communications reflect this, from our website and the pension app to the introductory letter, our online services and our one-on-one interaction with customers.’

What is it about your approach that sets it apart from the others?

‘We may feel that we’re communicating in a clear and transparent way, but that’s a claim we’ve got to be able to back up with concrete evidence. We regularly conduct surveys among employers, advisors and employees to check that we are actually communicating in a clear, transparent and comprehensible way. We’re receiving high ratings across the board. For example, employees rate us 7.3 on a scale to 10, which is quite high for a low-interest product. In addition, we’ve got a Net Promoter Score of +81% among employers.’

How do you get people interested in their pension?

‘That’s a very tricky challenge indeed. Getting people interested is the essential first step. We do this by making the subject matter accessible and unintimidating. That’s also the reason we have developed the pension app, which further increases accessibility, giving you the ability to quickly check up on the latest developments relating to your pension during a spare moment on your commute. If you have an appointment with your advisor, you’ve always got the up-to-date details on hand. Those details not only need to be accessible, but above all, as I mentioned earlier, they need to be comprehensible. No one’s going to take the time to read a 27-page letter. It’s got to be clear, concise and inviting. We make agreements with employers and one of them is that employees have to log in at least once a year. If they don’t, we’ll put ad banners on the employer’s intranet, or come up with fun, playful promotional stunts to promote awareness among the workforce. Currently, the log-in rate is around 70%. The moment that number drops, we take action immediately.’

What’s in it for you?

‘This approach results in satisfied customers and satisfied customers become ambassadors. Check our website, for example, where you’ll find a selection of customer testimonials, along with those people’s e-mail addresses. They’re all too happy to elaborate on their experience with us.’

What could others learn from you?

‘Our strength is that the image we project to the outside world matches exactly with what we’re doing inside the company. We make sure that we make it into a concrete reality on an internal level. All our communications are consistent with who we are. That’s not always a given in the market. Be consistent in what you say and what you are. It has been our experience that this is sure to get people’s attention in the market. I’ll give you an example. We’ve got customers with foreign employees who would like us to contact them in English. If they have indicated this, all the information they receive from us will be in English and when they are contacted by one of our advisors, this will also always be in English. However, while nearly all our staff speak English, not everyone is used to doing so on a day-to-day basis. In order to deliver on our promise, we’ve started ‘English Tuesdays’, where for that whole day, everyone in the office communicates with each other in English.’

What do you feel could have been done better?

‘Of course, we don’t always do things perfectly. We launched the app in 2012. At the time, we asked users for their opinion and we got our fair share of constructive feedback. Users felt it actually wasn’t very clear at all and while the details provided were sufficient, the sheer amount of information was overwhelming and therefore wasn’t clear and comprehensible. We took that feedback to heart in developing the new app that we’re releasing soon, which displays less data at the front-end and instead works with a dashboard. If users want more information, they can click through to different sub-sections. We’ve effectively introduced a tiered structure in the information provided.’

This article appeared on AMweb on 8 September 2015.