Interview: How Russell Investments is supercharging CX

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Originally from Mauritius, and now a CX trailblazer in Australia, Sophie Imbert takes us inside the customer experience function at Russell Investments, in the highly competitive superannuation industry.

Tell us about Russell Investments and where CX sits in the organisation.

Russell Investments is a leading global investment solutions provider with over A$445 billion in assets under management (AUM), dedicated to improving people’s financial security. Russell Investments operates in over 30 countries and has been in business 87 years. In Australia, in 2004 a superannuation fund was established which now has approximately A$11.2 billion in AUM, and services over 85,000 members. 

CX sits in the superannuation business under the member services function, responsible for every touchpoint that the member has with our organisation, from online communications, digital channels and tools, to human interactions.

What are some of the challenges in the superannuation industry and how has your CX program helped?

The superannuation (super) industry is going through a rapid rate of change with shifting member needs and expectations around not only what their super fund can provide but also channel preferences. As super is complex and often an afterthought, customer engagement can also be challenging, and members may not be heavily invested in their relationship with their super fund. Yet for many Australians, property and super are the largest components of household wealth, with super crucial to funding retirement.  

Now, more than ever, it’s key to understand member needs, wants and behaviours to ensure we’re hitting the mark with our strategic direction aimed at driving member engagement and better outcomes for retirement.

As part of our CX transformation, listening to members has been a key pillar. For example, we gather insights from members through research, either by partnering with research agencies or through our member panel, COMPASS, which was established in early 2023. A great example here is when we uncovered the level of anxiety and confusion members had around what to do when planning for their retirement. To respond to that particular cohort’s customer problem, we recently launched our Pathway program, which is a simple five-step digital program aimed at taking the complexity out of planning for retirement. We pride ourselves on making decisions driven by customer insights and the member voice is essential in this equation.

How is CX and technology helping to deliver against the member value proposition?

Our value proposition is to give members the best change of a great life after work, through the provision of innovative and personalised solutions and support. To deliver on that proposition, it has been key to put the member at the centre of everything that we design, as well as continuing the journey to become a more customer-centric culture. Using a human centred design (HCD) approach and technology, we’ve designed several solutions and services to solve for specific customer problems. To solve for the problem of Australians not having enough super to fund their retirement, we’ve taken a different approach than other super funds – we designed and implemented an award-winning GoalTracker™ program aimed at helping our members set a goal based on the lifestyle they want in retirement. And we didn’t stop there: we also used the technology to consider individuals’ financial circumstances, and review/adjust their investment mix to give them the best chance of achieving their retirement income goal. In addition to designing great experiences to augment our value proposition, like GoalTracker and Pathway, we also focus on continuous improvement fuelled by insights from our Voice of Customer (VoC) and closed loop program. Again, we listen to our members through listening posts across the member journey, which help us identify and prioritise improvement opportunities. We also act on negative feedback through our closed loop process which is providing us a differentiated approach to customer retention and experience in a highly competitive landscape.

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What’s next in your CX transformation?

I’m  excited about the evolution of our CX transformation as there is rapid change happening in the industry and with technology. We already have a solid VoC program, and I’m exploring its evolution, looking at integrating speech analytics and transcripts into the program, followed by operational data to provide a complete view and understanding of the member experience. I’m also working on better understanding some of our most complex end-to-end member journeys, the handoff points and really unpacking those to redesign them to align with our guiding principles. The most exciting part is the cultural customer-centric transformation in embedding human-centred design in our ways of working, which will involve upskilling our cross-functional teams around CX and HCD, making CX truly the responsibility of everyone in the organisation.

AI feels like a beast at the moment, so our approach has been to start by understanding our data, aligning AI with business objectives, fostering a culture of innovation before starting small with a use case in a controlled environment. We are working through this approach right now and we are currently exploring how to get deeper insights through speech analytics and optimising the VoC program backed up by AI engines.

Which KPIs are most important to the business?

Member outcomes are our most important business metrics. We need to ensure what we’re doing is making an impact on members’ financial wellbeing. Additionally, as mentioned, engagement with super funds can be quite low, so member engagement, for example measured by the percentage of members that make voluntary contributions or log into their online account, is one of our key KPIs. And finally, our good old member experience measurements, such as Customer Satisfaction Scores and Net Promoter Score, tracked through our VoC program, have proven to be invaluable in helping us focus our efforts on the things that matter to members.

Last updated on: July 9, 2024