Broadridge Asks: Are You Selling a Retirement Experience?

Top advisers understand the importance of “the experience revolution” that has reshaped the way people shop for all types of goods and services—even defined contribution retirement plans. 

In a new paper published by Broadridge Financial Solutions, “The Experience Revolution,“ researchers name and dissect the top trends impacting retirement advisory client preferences today—finding there is “clearly a revolution underway.”

“New technologies are empowering consumers and giving providers new tools to engage participants,” the report explains. “Expectations are changing. Consumers want a unified experience across channels, with proactive communication and customized interactions.” (See “Why You Can’t Ignore New Practice Tech.”)

This trend towards integration and optimization has been a long time coming in other areas of the economy, the researchers note, but it seems that only recently has the retirement space truly perked up its ears and gotten serious about leveraging “experiential technology” to enhance outcomes. Reflecting this trend, many providers are now creating and delivering innovative participant experiences in a scalable, cost-effective way.

Helping to drive this trend is that “incremental improvement is no longer enough” to keep clients happy, Broadridge warns. Just in the way Amazon has reshaped retail competition and Starbucks reshaped the coffee shop, so too will this new approach to retirement plan sales fundamentally alter the game of being an adviser. 

“Those who can connect with customers in a sustainable and meaningful way are building their brands at the expense of those who cannot,” the researchers explain. “And now, this revolutionary thinking has come to the retirement industry.”

Next: The key to selling ‘experience’

Playing the part of marketing guru, the Broadridge researchers outline “the four rules of customer experience.”

First, the success or failure of a given customer experience is always determined from the customer’s point of view—and this can vary dramatically from the point of view of the service provider. Second, customer experience is “about every way the consumer interacts with a brand either directly or indirectly.” Third, customer experience covers everything that happens between provider and client—planned and unplanned. And finally, “customer experience primarily depends on a culture of customer centricity—one that’s delivered each and every day to every customer.”

Contemplating these themes, one will see the overlap between “experiential selling” and modern digital marketing, Broadridge explains. In other words, the focus on customer experience “has coincided directly with the rise of the digital marketing organization.” 

“While its origin is in the design of ‘user experiences,’ digital marketing and service has since been embraced by many industries and many companies,” Broadridge explains. “Companies that are achieving digitization at scale have found a better way. They have developed a distinct structure that enables them to digitize their most important customer experiences at scale and at speed—in a consistent way, with consistent resources, to produce consistent results.”

In doing so, these companies “transform much of the rest of their organizations, from product and process design through to technology and culture, becoming truly digital businesses.”

NEXT: Bringing it all home for plan participants 

One actionable aspect of all this for today’s advisers is that the industry has “finally understood that retirement is not a stand-alone conversation.”

“To enable retirement readiness, each individual must stand on a foundation of financial wellness overall,” the researchers suggest. “Much as physical wellness programs have helped shape the future of health care, financial wellness programs can shape the future of retirement planning.”

This means the advisory client experience must be pushed beyond the “what’s my number” conversation, “to a dialogue about the income needed in retirement and the amount of income that savings can buy. This has resulted in a shift in our thinking from a ‘point in time’ conversation to a life-long experience and affiliation.”

Given the pricing compression across all aspects of the retirement industry, Broadridge concludes that today’s providers simply “do not have the luxury of producing ineffective or inefficient communications. Every interaction must count, and experiences must be designed based on a scalable infrastructure to deliver competitive value at a competitive price.”

Information on obtaining Broadridge research reports is available here.