4th January 2023

Engaging the younger generation as part of Consumer Duty considerations involves engaging your own employees first, writes Georgia d’Esterre, head of marketing at National Friendly.

Engaging 18 to 30-year-olds as part of Consumer Duty considerations could extend well beyond accessible information and products matched to need. Actions speak louder than words, as the adage goes.

It's the actions of organisations - and particularly those on the front line - that are likely to speak volumes to the younger generation, according to new research from National Friendly.

While much has already been spoken and written about the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA's) Consumer Duty, little attention has been paid to organisational culture and purpose.

This is the notion that if you get the employee experience right, the customer experience will follow. It's about not getting so bogged down in the functional and operational factors involved in service delivery, that you lose sight of the significant importance of personal interactions.

After all, the aspects that matter to people when assessing a provider are not necessarily the information they're provided with - the generic advertising and the marketing - it's what others have to say about the organisation and factors such as how well it looks after its employees, local communities and the environment.

This is the case across all age groups, but particularly those in the 18-30 age group.

Reputation matters

National Friendly recently commissioned Opinium to ask 2,000 UK adults, aged 18+, how important various factors would be to them when making a decision to protect their lifestyle with a replacement income in case of accident and inability to work for a time.

It's an area of particular interest to us considering almost one fifth of our Accident Only Income Protection (AOIP) sales so far are to under 30s.

We wanted to investigate the whys and wherefores - in a wider market sense - to help us and other providers achieve further growth in this area.

Our research found that for 18 to 30-year-olds, what others have to say about the provider is more important than what the provider has to say about itself; from friends and family (67%) to the media (66%) and also independent reviews on sites such as Trust Pilot (66%); all ahead of ‘what the company's advertising and marketing has to say' (62%).

Following very closely behind what others have to say are environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors:

  • Whether the company has a strong reputation in environment standards (68%)
  • Whether they seem to invest resources in doing good in local communities (65%)
  • How the company treats its employees (64%)

Again, all of these factors come ahead of ‘what the company's advertising and marketing has to say' (62%).

Employee focus

Zooming in on the employee aspect, there's enough evidence out there to show that customer and employee satisfaction are two sides of the same coin.

A quick look at any Trustpilot review soon reveals that it's the personal interactions that compel people to write a review; good and bad.

What employees have to say about their organisation is also laid bare on recruitment sites like Glassdoor, not to mention on various social media channels.

Glassdoor has evidenced a statistical link between employee wellbeing, reported on their platform, and customer satisfaction among big brands, particularly in industries with the closest contact between workers and customers, including financial services.*

Academics and practitioners went a step further to identify - and quantify - the causal impact of employees on customer experience and business outcomes.

They found that revenue and profits could be markedly increased by focusing on improving various employee experience metrics, such as wellbeing, diversity, training, communication.**

The key takeaway? Organisations shouldn't place a sole focus on business cases and ROI calculations from marketing and sales teams, but start empowering HR departments to make their own case; not people as costs to be minimised (as it often the case) but, rather, as high impact investments.

All of this has implications for Consumer Duty, across many of the requirements laid out by the FCA, such as: helpful and accessible customer support; timely and clear information; providing products and services that are right for customers; and focusing on the real and diverse needs of customers at every stage and in every interaction.

As well as having the right products and processes in place, this is all arguably about people.

It's as much about looking within at what employees experience as it is about looking at what customers experience and, as part of that, ensuring shared employer brand and customer brand values.

It's a mutual thing.

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