Instant Gratification and Retirement Savings
Chances are if it takes you more than seven minutes to read this blog, you won’t finish it.
Four hundred and twenty seconds is the time it takes most people to read the average blog of about 1,600 words, Buffer reports, and in today’s instant gratification culture, time is always of the essence.1 The digital world has become a benchmark and spyglass into how human behavior is evolving or perhaps, unraveling.
Patience, once thought to be a virtue, is so yesterday. MarketingProfs.com reports that 41 percent of Americans say technology has made them more impatient than they were five years ago.2 For Millennials, who popularized digital media, those who say their patience has waned is 45 percent.
Consumer expectations are not changing so much as they are exploding. Companies are recognizing that they need to track customer interactions and feedback instantaneously. Moreover, fulfillment of requests and correction of problems must happen in real time.
But how does the new “culture of impatience” affect financial services? In a world where saving enough to retire takes not years but decades, can financial services companies possibly be expected to move at the speed of light?
That would be 670,616,629 mph and customers are timing us as we speak. Financial firms, including retirement plan providers, are recalibrating their service platforms and capabilities to respond in nanoseconds as retirement savers now want issues addressed immediately. And complaints ― especially when they take longer to address than expected ― are often made not just to the offending firm but posted to potentially millions of social media consumers as well.
Consider that 8,212 messages are blasted out on Twitter and 872 photos are uploaded on Instagram every second, according to Internetlivestats.com. 3 Meanwhile, Google reports that it processes more than 40,000 searches every second on average.4 No one wants to be on the wrong end of a Twitter or other social media fusillade. And a bad review can pop up on Google at the click of a QWERTY keyboard.
MassMutual is running fast to stay ahead of consumer expectations as much as possible, which is why we’ve introduced our new mutualvoice customer experience management platform for plan sponsors, plan consultants and participants. We’re the first financial services company to implement this industry-leading approach, turning up the volume as we listen to customers, attempt to fix problems, answer questions, educate participants and, as we track interactions, spot trends.
Trends that are the golden nuggets that we are sifting for as they enable us to not only help solve problems but to anticipate customer needs, often before customers understand they have a need. In a world where time is measured in fractions of a second, you need to anticipate to delight.
It starts with the right technology to allow us to continuously improve our company’s performance as well as the customer experience. With support from Medallia, a customer engagement consultant and software provider, which helped guide us in building our new customer engagement platform, we are capturing real-time feedback from all customers, across all channels, and transform the data into actionable intelligence. We listen, adapt, and take actions to improve interactions with customers, often in real time. It’s the caffeinated version of "check and adjust.”
Success in meeting customers’ expectations for immediate gratification may have its rewards. If we can turn around a customer’s attitude about a potentially disappointing experience, then we can potentially transform a dissatisfied detractor into a pleased promoter. And you can never have enough of those.
Customer engagement seems to be the secret sauce. Four out of five customers report that the experience a company provides is just as important as the products or services it delivers, according to Salesforce. 5 And consumers are voting with their wallets as Salesforce reports that 57 percent have stopped buying a company’s goods or services because a competitor provided a better experience.
The longer-term value of customer engagement (CX) though, is the ability to get closer to our customers, learn more about them, and then deliver what they really need and want. The CX platform facilitates a dialogue with our customers, helping ensure that their voices are considered in every decision. Because in the end, customers don’t want products and services, they want solutions. And in the retirement plans business, solutions equate to our customers retiring on their terms.
On the plan sponsor level, the data we are gathering is used to potentially improve and enhance the effectiveness of retirement plans. By tracking interactions and issues, our relationship managers and client engagement managers have the empirical evidence they need to help recommend improvements for retirement plans such as incorporating more automation, recalibrating plan designs or reconsidering investment choices. And we can do so proactively, before a customer even approaches us with questions or concerns.
In a world where “light speed” is the new normal, we’re moving faster than ever to stay ahead.
To this point, this blog has managed to remain under 1,600 words and it’s been about four minutes of reading, so you’ve made it to the finish line. More importantly, you’ve hopefully spent your time wisely, learning more about how MassMutual is listening more closely to our customers and responding more quickly and more effectively to their needs. And I’ll give you back 180 seconds.
Una Morabito is Head of Client Management for the Workplace Solutions unit of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual).
1The Ideal Length of Everything Online, Backed by Research, 2014, https://blog.bufferapp.com/the-ideal-length-of-everything-online-according-to-science
2MarketingProfs.com, The instant gratification nation, 2017,
4Google Search Statistics, http://www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics/
5Salesforce, State of the Connected Consumer, 2018, https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2018/06/digital-customers-research.html