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Summit 2020 series: providing financial reassurance in a time of economic uncertainty

Continuing the Squiz Summit 2020 theme of innovating through a crisis, we’re highlighting how Squiz customers across many different industries have risen to the new customer challenges posed by COVID-19 restrictions.

In this post, we hear from Marleen Timmers-Vasen, Digital Manager at GESB, on how they’ve made understanding and accessing information about their superannuation funds easier, empowering customers to make more informed decisions about their finances.

Cassandra Theocharous

Written by

Cassandra Theocharous
Marketing Manager
29 September 2020

An inevitable consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the impact on the global economy. As many businesses were forced to close entirely, or restrict trading, unemployment rates quickly rose and predictions about the impact on global GDP made grim reading. Understandably, people across the world became increasingly worried about the economy and how it would ultimately affect their personal finances – so much so, that many surveys now suggest that financial fear outweighs fear of the virus itself (Pew Research, 2020).

For the financial services industry, the new priority is to provide customers with reassurance, transparency and greater control over their finances.

GESB’s story

As the super fund for current and former WA public sector employees, GESB has more than 240,000 members and $30 billion in funds under management, making it one of the largest super funds in Australia. Well before the pandemic hit, in 2016, GESB had already identified the importance of improving its customer experience (CX) which, in the world of financial information, centred around helping customers to understand, engage with and take greater control over their superannuation investments.

GESB’s digital team, led by Marleen Timmers-Vasen, had successfully launched a modern, responsive and accessible version of gesb.wa.gov.au built on Squiz Matrix and, by 2017, was already looking ahead to its next challenge. “We were committed to accessibility and knew that it’d play a key role in helping our customers to navigate our website and, in turn, gain better access to their super information”, revealed Timmers-Vasen. “Our first step was appointing an accessibility champion – Jane Ots – who consulted with the Centre for Inclusive Design and undertook an audit of 13 of the most used templates and one key process within the site, which was research”.

The accessibility journey

The GESB website scored 69% in its first accessibility audit, and the team immediately set to work on improving this score; from heading structures and cascading style sheets, to using a plug-in that could read out complex graph and table data in a logical order. The audit had highlighted issues with page contrast, so the team rectified these to ensure customers with low vision would not be hindered when browsing their information.

The hard work soon paid off and the following audit achieved a perfect 100% accessibility score, as well as external recognition for Jane’s efforts, being one of three candidates shortlisted for Accessibility Person of the Year at the 2019 Australian Access Awards held in December 2019. “Our commitment to accessibility doesn’t stop there”, reveals Timmers-Vasen. “We’ve already achieved a 97% score for our retirement planning calculator and seek advice from an accessibility consultant on all our on-going enhancements”.

Boosting engagement

How often do customers open and read their paper superannuation statements? While sending this information to customers is a compliance requirement, GESB wanted to find out whether customers were actually reading and engaging with this important update. Turns out, they weren’t. “Our research showed only 8% of customers were looking at these statements – but without this information, they can’t make informed decisions about how to invest their funds”, Timmers-Vasen explains. “We knew we had to change that if we wanted customers to take greater control over their super funds”.

Working closely with a strategy consultant, the team came up with the solution of interactive statement summaries; an online, visual summary of members’ account details that offered a quick, easy, at-a-glance alternative to the bulky and potentially overwhelming annual information packs. With the help of Squiz’s development team, GESB provided customers with an easy log-in – requesting simply a name, age and member number – after which they would see a personalised welcome page, depending on their member category, featuring a simple dashboard with key information.

Featuring account balance, investment performance, insurance cover, a summary of personal details and a collective total of fees paid throughout the year, the new summaries had an immediate impact – statements received an impressive 60% open rate, while reminder emails had a 52% open rate. Furthermore, 32% of members logged in to view their statement summaries online, many on different devices – a huge achievement compared with the previous 8% opening paper statements. Most importantly, members were keen to show their gratitude, with 73% rating the new experience as ‘very good’ to ‘excellent’.

Increasing transparency

As a financial services organisation, data and analysis comes naturally to GESB, so gathering feedback from members to ensure their efforts were significantly enhancing the CX – and identify areas for improvement – was an obvious next step. “We ran multiple polls and surveys across our site and email and the feedback has been invaluable in helping us to plan future initiatives” Timmers-Vasen reveals.

As a direct result of member feedback, the team has improved access to full member statements, as well as simplifying different access options and offering a quick download icon. The team has also increased the visibility of fees and investment performance and introduced more detailed investment performance information – such as an overview of how $10,000 invested in a plan, over time, compares against the plan's benchmark and against having that money invested in a cash plan. “This is information that was previously difficult to access – but it’s hugely important in helping members to make better choices and have confidence in their superannuation investments”, Timmers-Vasen explains.

In addition, the digital team has added more ways for members to reach out to GESB, with a new live chat widget and a member view tool, enabling call centre staff to see what members see and quickly help members who may have accidentally locked themselves out of their accounts.

When the unprecedented events of 2020 began to unfold, GESB was already delivering members a genuinely useful, accessible online service, enabling them to provide an uninterrupted experience throughout the crisis. “Everything we do comes back to providing a positive experience for our members”, Timmers-Vasen concludes. “When they engage with us and make informed decisions about their super, we’re helping to improve their long-term financial benefits – which is why GESB exists in the first place.”

If you missed the virtual Squiz Summit 2020, you can now watch all Summit sessions on-demand, at squiz.net/summit/2020/on-demand. Alternatively, for more information about how GESB and Squiz are transforming the customer experience, check out our full GESB case study.

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