Posts by Graeme

Graeme Riddoch

Walking through town just before lockdown began (seems a long time ago now!) I was struck by the number of empty shop units. A sign of the times and a trend to online retail. I was dropping some shoes in to be re-soled, not something I could ever imagine doing with an online service.

But, in fact, there’s so much more we can do online than ever before – and it seems so easy! As an example, I recently bought a pair of prescription spectacles online. A friend had just done it, so I gave it a try. I did have some doubts, however, as I have varifocals, which are very tricky to get right.

I downloaded the app, which prompted me to take a selfie, then superimpose different glasses – it was actually quite a fun process! I selected four that I liked and a few days later they arrived. I tried them on and one looked good, so I updated the app with my choice.

Then I took a photograph of my prescription on the app and paid my money. The glasses were at least half the price of my regular optician and a full refund was available within 30 days if I wasn’t happy. So, I thought, why not give it a go?

About a week later they turned up and were perfect. Glad I didn’t go to Specsavers!

Changing behaviours

So, what’s that got to do with getting my shoes resoled? Well, buying varifocals online made me focus on the fact that a lot of consumer behaviour is driven by ease of access and ease of processing. We’re finding out right now which retailers are good and which have a lot still to learn. In Timpsons, I paid for the repair with my Starling Bank debit card. “Ah” said the chap serving me “I’m with them, great aren’t they great? “

Starling is one of a breed of new start up banks, Monzo is another example. The only way to access is by using a phone app, not even a website. It’s big with the kids; having said that I’m 58 and signed up last year and the chap in Timpsons looked to be around my age.

Recent research shows that smartphones and apps are now the way that most of us access the internet. The 2019 Deloitte Mobile Survey shows that smartphone ownership is now 80% in the age 55-75 age group.

Starling’s application process is just so easy. Download the app, take a photo of your driving licence, record a selfie – that’s it. No need to take a passport, utility bill and an application form into a branch. The process took me about two minutes.

The technology behind it is now being adopted in a number of places. It’s very secure and in some cases more robust than traditional ways of verifying IDs.

Members are real people

So, in the pensions world, what lessons can we learn to help us engage better with members?

  • Firstly, consumers are expecting more and more of their service providers. We continually talk about members as if they are some sort of alien life form. The pensions industry offers a consumer service; scheme members are real people like the rest of us. The more they do on-line the more they expect to do on-line.
  • Secondly, age is increasingly less of a predictor of how people engage with services and technology.
  • Thirdly, there’s a lot of noise in the pensions industry at the moment about getting people engaged. So, how about a pension phone app that you can register for with a photo of your driving licence and a selfie? Passwords and two factor authentication, which  can be real barriers to engagement, are consigned to history. Instead, logins can use the phone’s biometrics, thumb print or facial recognition.

We can make pension engagement a reality – for everyone!

Anyway back to where I started. It cost me a trip into town and £65 to re-sole a pair of shoes. A trip to the shops right now would be very welcome, but using an app could be even better!

Graeme Riddoch

Driving change

I did an all too frequent commute to London this morning. Firstly, I drove to the station. I’ve just had Apple Carplay fitted, which lets me mirror and control my phone’s apps. I needed a bit of energy so “Siri play Queen” (that gives my age away).

In bongs a WhatsApp from my wife. “Siri read WhatsApp”, my hands gripping the steering wheel all the while. Voice recognition has come a long way of late. I remember a less sophisticated system transcribed my name, Graeme Riddoch, as ‘dangerous burglar’!

Technology is improving all the time; it’s fast becoming the way we work, rest and play.

Playing at techno god


Having reached the station car park I would previously have been scuttling around looking for change for a parking ticket. But not now, as I opened the parking app using facial recognition rather than a password. Passwords are one of the main reasons that people give up on technology. 

The app spotted me with the GPS function. Car park 2? Yes. One day parking? Yes. Click and done.

Obviously, my train ticket was on an app and I swished through the barrier like a techno god.

Demanding more


I wasn’t doing any of this a couple of years ago. Perhaps the technology wasn’t there – or maybe I hadn’t spotted it. However, once you start using some of these toys and they work, you create an expectation for yourself that all services will work that way too.

One of the biggest drivers of change is the adoption of smartphones and how they are used. The Deloitte 2019 Mobile Consumer Survey finds that 90% of 44-55 year olds and 80% of 55-75 year olds own a smart phone. It’s also the case that smartphones are now the way that most people access the internet.

When was the last time you went out without your phone?

Putting it all together suggests that if you want to get the attention of your customers and deliver a first class service you had better not ignore the smartphone.

Pushing the buttons


Where do we start with passwords? A world of pain. Enough said…

The current generation of phones offer biometric login. Once you have logged into an app for the first time, you then use your thumb print or facial recognition. The pain is gone and the app is readily accessible.

Mobile phones must increasingly form part of an engagement strategy between businesses and consumers. More than three-quarters (79%) of people use their smartphone for reading email; a higher percentage than those who use it for making calls. (Source Email Monday)

Having said that there’s also research showing that people are increasingly deleting e-mails without even opening them. 

So, what about sending messages via push notifications? Retail Dive found that push notifications tend to be opened more than e-mails.

Unengaging


And so to the world of pensions, and in particular defined benefit pensions. Largely paper based, unengaging, and with any web activity largely website based rather than through smart phones.

Getting a decent service that members will want to use on a mobile platform is difficult.

One issue is our old friend poor data quality. The next is the administration technology itself. The ways that modern consumers want to use data were never dreamed of when most of the current technology for defined benefits was built.

But what if…

  • Members could view their benefits and transfer value in real time.
  • Update their details.
  • Receive ‘push’ messages that they would read immediately.
  • Even complete all their retirement options online if ID validation can be cracked.

And that would be just the start. There’s lots of technology across other sectors that could make a real difference to members. We just need to get started!

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