What super funds should be doing to woo members and outgrow the competition

By Damian Sharpley

The days when super providers effortlessly grow at the speed of the market are numbered.

Disengagement reigns supreme currently, that is until a handful of ambitious providers decide to shake things up and do things differently, or if market dynamics change. For instance, with the new MyGov legislation, it’s now easier than ever for Australians to choose a fund – consequently awakening members from their slumber with new power in their hands.

In brief, super providers can no longer rely on scale for success. What they need is a customer-led strategic approach that creates greater value for members and provides tangible evidence that can be communicated effectively. There are four ways to go about this.

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1. Differentiate your proposition

You can’t all be the biggest or best performing, so stand for something different.

When I cast my eyes over the 200+ super providers in market and what they communicate, it’s nearly indistinguishable what each represents, what their unfair advantage is, or what they promise to current and prospective members. Interestingly, the strongest brand in the market is Industry Super – a sub-category brand of not-for-profit superannuation funds.

So, how does an inspired, ambitious provider begin to strengthen their position?

One option is to find a market that needs something better, and shape the business and your brand around that market or those segments. For example, sadly, on average women’s super balances are 28% lower than men’s and this disparity begins from age 25. What if your market was the prosperity and wellbeing of Australian women?

It could be as easy as offering a few investment options specifically for women, or going harder at it and orientating your whole customer strategy and experience behind this differentiated business strategy. The idea is to find a clear space and shape the business around it to win.

A second option could be identifying your unfair advantage and making it pay. It could be a new piece of technology or an exclusive distribution alliance. A good example here is Bank of Australia – its products aren’t superior to anyone else’s, but it has clearly identified its business as the cleanest, most sustainable banking proposition for Australians to consider.

2. Grow your brand

There are no shortcuts to growing your brand. The sooner you realise you have to pay your way with media to get the necessary all-important reach, the better. Ideally, you want to reach as many significant numbers of new customers as possible and do so once – because most of the heavy lifting is done in the first exposure of communication.

Plus, there’s plenty of empirical evidence showing that to grow, your share of voice (spend) has to be greater than your share of market (size).

Of course, it’s not just about spend. To motivate people to consider your brand, you must first find a genuine need you can solve for them and propose it in an emotionally magnetic way. A good recent example from the world of insurance is Budget Direct, which chose to zero in on people’s resentment for paying high premiums for a largely intangible and homogenous service. Meeting an un-served need with a low-cost proposition became the very motivating factor to prospective customers to make the switch and – along with a famous Captain Risky – led to market share growth for Budget Direct.

3. Improve your CX

Having recently completed the process of changing super providers, I gained unique insight into the unwieldy and often disconnected superannuation customer experience. There were too many unpleasant moments in that process to go through in detail here, but it reinforced for me something the super industry badly needs – to make it easy to join providers and complete their migration.

From the dreaded paperwork to the anticipated complexity, I’d bet a large number of Australians are put off the task from the get-go. Making it easy to open a new account is one thing, but equally important is to understand and remove any physical or mental impediments that are likely to stall the conversion.

Imagine for a second that with every new account opened, you were assigned a Concierge. Someone who could provide simple tasks to you each week to keep things moving, dispel myths, anticipate questions, and alert your adviser on your behalf if you were too afraid to do so yourself. This could be a bot or a human – either way, the customer experience would be greatly enhanced and a successful migration culminating in funds deposited would be more likely to occur.

Of course, when we’re talking about CX in superannuation, it’s hard to ignore the fact that nearly everyone thinks very little about super until they’re close to retirement age. And yet, there’s plenty super providers could be doing to tackle this challenge. For starters, what if some small proportion of our super demanded our active involvement each month? And what if we were pinged regularly with the latest economic updates and opinions from a select few ‘influencers’ we choose to follow? What if we were asked to actively place a percentage of monthly contributions into a more high-involvement, high-interest investment product?

Now I’m just spit-balling here, but with a skilled approach to researching members, we can really begin to get beneath the inertia, sharpen our understanding of it and design solutions that create interest and ultimately behavioural change, leading to significant bottom-line performance. Surely it’s worth it.

4. Empower your business with customer knowledge

This one is simple – and yet so few businesses get it right: put data and insights in the hands of employees near the customer.

If customer engagement, customer centricity or customer experience feature anywhere in your organisation’s mantra, then data needs to be central to that philosophy as part of an Experience Management (XM) system. That system should be wired in to the key links in the customer experience chain as sensors for the experience, relaying data back and forth to the dashboard that customer-facing and customer-management personnel can view. This would allow them to watch for the flares that eventually come and to then manage the issues swiftly.

As featured by AdNews on the 6th October, 2020

Call Damian Sharpley on 0400 664 482 or email to discuss how we can help your super business succeed.