Effective communication is essential when you’re trying to help people understand any complex subject. And, when it’s something as important to their future as superannuation, it also becomes essential.
Over the last few years, Australian Catholic Superannuation has undergone significant changes in how we communicate. We’ve asked our Senior Content Manager, Jessica Gibson, to take you through the insights we’ve gained as we have reviewed and revised how we help our members understand their superannuation.
Understand the needs of different people and speaking to them
Traditionally, we spoke to members about their retirement. It makes sense, after all, providing for excellent retirement outcomes is our primary focus.
For people who are close to retirement, this was great. It was information that was relevant to their specific needs. We had engaged that group well, but also saw the opportunity to help people who traditionally don’t engage with superannuation – really, anyone who wasn’t thinking about retirement.
There are a lot of things that younger people need to know, like the long-term benefits of making additional contributions to super, and we weren’t structuring that message in a way that appealed to those people.
“We spent a great deal of time learning about our members and their individual needs and started to group people together as we saw patterns develop,” said Jessica.
For example, we found that people at the beginning of their career were really interested in learning about super, but the material we provided wasn’t right for them. So, we revised our documentation and contacts to provide information to those people that was relevant and timely.
Talk to people like normal people talk
Superannuation is loaded with jargon, and we’ve been as guilty as anyone for falling into the trap of assuming that everyone has a working knowledge of how the industry operates. Jessica says that stripping super back to its basic concepts and helping people understand how it works was a big step toward communicating more clearly.
“We made a concerted effort to remove the barriers to entry and help people truly understand all aspects of their superannuation and know what they need to do to make the most of it,” said Jessica.
Make it relevant
Thinking about retirement when you’re in your 20s is, admittedly, a stretch. But, with market swings and economic news being top-of-mind for most people, we had to provide content that provided timely value to the reader.
If the news is screaming about a possible recession and you receive a communication about updating your beneficiaries (which is still important, don’t get me wrong), then as a business you’re missing an opportunity to make a meaningful connection.
Jessica says, “We started working with our investments teams to share regular market updates and reactive analysis of things in the news to help people make better, informed decisions.
We wanted to make things simple and really break it down, something that’s reflected in our new website as well as the overhaul of our seminar series.
Talk to people in the way they want
For years, we have encouraged our members to call us. We have an award-winning call centre and it’s a great experience.
What we recognised, however, was that our members wanted to connect with us in different ways. Some prefer face-to-face contact at school visits or our offices. Others like email. Others still like to use Facebook, so we started to use Messenger to communicate with members and a web chat function directly from our website and member portal!
We’re also exploring more ways to keep in touch with our members, but at the heart of it all is making sure that contacting us is easy and understandable.
Why we made the change
It would have been easy to keep doing what we had been doing, but it would have been a disservice to our members to keep treating them all the same.
“This wasn’t about making a random change but about recognising that we have an obligation to our members, to help them plan for their financial future,” said Jessica.
It also isn’t about making money but about serving all of our more than 90,000 members better. And, moreover, it was about helping people. That, truly, is our obligation as both a superannuation fund as well as an organisation that upholds Catholic values.
Effective communication begins with listening
Remembering that communication is a collaborative process is the most essential part of effective communication.
“If we hadn’t spent time learning more about our members and their needs at different stages of life, we wouldn’t have known where to start with revising our strategy around how we help people,” says Jessica. “The way we see communication is as a back-and-forth process to help people improve their future.”
We spent time learning how people wanted to be talked to, how they wanted to hear from us and figuring out what they would find most valuable.
The results have been quite positive. We’ve improved how we speak to younger members, have found new channels to speak to people on and are getting people excited about their future prospects instead of being intimidated by it.
“This isn’t a one-change and it’s done situation,” concludes Jessica. “We’re proactively looking for new opportunities to help people understand their super. It’s exciting to be able to make a difference like this at every stage of people’s lives and meet their needs.”
From pages 16 to 17 of Issue 21: ‘The most Effective Communications is transformative’ of The Record Magazine