April 05, 2013
It is an axiom in the pension industry that an investment in a new pension administration system must translate into something better for the members. But is it actually happening?
There are three ways new systems can help improve member service:
- They can create new channels of member communication (web, chat, online video)
- They can reduce response time to member requests
- They can increase the accuracy and quality of communications and calculations
None of these improvements are guaranteed, however. The new channels of communication can create as many issues as they solve. Members may be able to see documents and account data that they couldn’t see previously. But what happens if the underlying data are faulty? What if the documents contain errors?
This can lead to further problems. Web portals must be properly maintained; members will expect the same level of support for a pension website as their bank website, in terms of assistance with user ID and password issues and the like.
Increased responsiveness is not guaranteed by new technology. The new technology must be coupled with new policies regarding how and when to respond to a member request. A new system can auto-reply to a member via email, but a canned email message will not be considered ‘responsive’ by most members.
Increased accuracy and quality can be achieved at the benefit calculation level only if the underlying data are accurate. In pension administration system projects, this is far from guaranteed. The data conversion underpins any new implementation: if the system goes live with significant data issues, it is unlikely the new system will be any more accurate than the old.
How are these benefits achieved, then? The answer is that member service improvement goals must be detailed at the beginning of each implementation, and the project team must work towards achieving each one.
Better member service is not an automatic outcome of a pension administration system project, but it can be achieved if it is a goal of the organization. Technology offers the ability to dramatically improve member service, but it is the project team that needs to make this a reality.