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Client communication has been key during COVID-19

One size does not fit all pension schemes

Pension Board and Trustee Consulting|Pensions Corporate Consulting|Pensions Risk Solutions|Pensions Technology|Retirement
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By Richard Giffin | September 18, 2020

Throughout the crisis, pension scheme clients appreciated our efforts to communicate our measures to keep operating.

We have worked through the COVID-19 pandemic to keep our clients informed so they know that their pension scheme administration is in good hands. Over the past six months, we have learned a lot about communicating with our clients, particularly how one size does not fit all.

After nearly a dozen updates since March, our main takeaways are:

  • Keep open lines of communication
  • Maintain consistent messaging
  • Determine the right frequency of updates
  • Listen to client feedback

The first thing we learned was the importance of quickly opening communication channels with them. As fear and risk rose in mid-March, we acted swiftly to calm all of our clients. We felt it was important to let the appropriate stakeholders know, as quickly as possible, what actions Technology and Administration Solutions (TAS) planned to take.

Within 24 hours, we had issued update number one to 300 client contacts, confirming the activation of our business continuity and incident management plans. We clearly explained the measures put in place over the preceding weeks, such as

  • Restrictions on travel and meetings
  • Facilitating virtual meetings
  • Work-from-home guidelines
  • Limits on office access
  • Plans for split-team operations.

The update also set out provisions in progress to ensure that TAS could continue to provide critical services, including maximising the benefits of our Global Operating Model to leverage support across all our locations.

We issued update number two just five days later, to provide further guidance that we had everything covered. That evening the Prime Minister advised against "non-essential" travel, suggesting people should work from home prompting update number three, in which we informed clients of our intent to mobilise 1,600 colleagues to work from home, and we swiftly despatched laptops, routers, headphones, monitors and mobile phones to colleagues who had previously been office-based.

As restrictions tightened across our locations, update numbers four (20 March) and five (24 March) made sure our clients were kept informed of the ongoing changes. We also took the opportunity to update them on developments across a number of other themes:

  • The continuing improvement in the number of colleagues who could work from home
  • The impact of working from home on productivity
  • The movement and trends in member demand
  • Changes to TAS processes to recognise the changing environment
  • Issues in the industry (such as investment managers’ delays in providing unit prices and the ‘gating’ of property funds), and various announcements and relaxations by regulatory and government bodies

After the early updates, we realised the importance of keeping consistent messaging and the frequency of updates. From update five onwards, the content of the series remained largely the same: notifying clients of developments in specific key areas. Furthermore, the speed of developments determined the frequency of updates, so as the situation moved from ‘revolutionary’ to ‘evolutionary’, the frequency of updates slowed to avoid ‘update fatigue’.

Throughout the pandemic, client feedback was universally positive.

Throughout the pandemic, client feedback was universally positive. We have now issued update number 11 and are working on update number 12. Meanwhile, the distribution list has grown considerably.

We have used the updates to initiate client discussions on the changes introduced, and where specific solutions don’t suit their particular circumstances, we’ve adapted those solutions accordingly.

We know from direct feedback how much our clients have relied on our updates throughout the crisis. We intend to keep using the channel as we start to move back to the office and as we ramp up operations to meet the growing requirements of our clients and members in the uncertain times that lie ahead.

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