Customer Experience (Pensions) Fail at Aviva


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My customer experience online via MyAviva as an Aviva customer used to be great. I would have given it a 10/10. In fact, it was one of key factors in moving my pension over from Prudential. The other fact? By making the move I cut my annual charges by half.

My customer experience at Prudential sucked. What made it suck? On the online Prudential platform I could not manage (as in change) my investments. So the customer experience was one of frustration. Frustration at having to call. Frustration at having to wait and wait and wait. Frustration at having to talk another person through the fund changes I wished to make.

On Aviva’s online platform my customer experience was great: I could easily and instantly switch out of one or more funds into other funds. The most time consuming job was that of research: figuring out which funds I wanted to switch into.

Shows the options available to the customer / user on the pensions administration page at
Pensions page shows the options available to me in managing my pension

Take a look at this screenshot. There are a number of issues with the options listed – which I will not go into here. Rather I wish to focus on what is missing. The option that used to allow me to switch into / out of funds is not there. It’s not there!

After wasting time hunting – across a number of pages – the option that used to be there but is not there, I had no choice but call Aviva’s customer service helpline. Here’s a snapshot of my experience as a customer:

1-Deal with the IVR;

2-Talk with a Customer Services agent, go through the security check;

3-Inform this agent of what I wish to do and express my surprise / frustration that I can no longer do it online;

4-He stops me and tells me that he has to put me through to the switching team;

5-I wait and then wait some more, to be told that he cannot get through to the switching team;

6-I hand over my contact details so that somebody from the switching team can call me back;

7-Later I do get called back and have to go through a security check;

8-Then I get to specify step by step that changes I wish to make and wait for him to enter those into his system; and

9-To be told that my instructions will be carried out somewhere around the 5th of May – five days time – when online they would have been executed instantly!

Because Aviva has taken away from me the option to manage my pension investments online, I, the customer, endure a poor customer experience. Poor how? Unnecessary effort. Time wasted. My need is still not met. And, next week I will have to log in and check that the switching team have done what I have asked them to do.

Because Aviva have turned an online option and real-time automated process into a manual one, Aviva pays a price:

1-Human beings (2 different customer service agents) needed to do that which I, the customer, would have happily done through self-service online – this is waste if one thinks in terms of lean operations;

2-Introducing errors – the agent may misunderstand my instructions and/or may make manual entry errors;

3-No safeguards to ensure that errors are caught before execution – I cannot see what the customer service agent has done and so I cannot check and correct the way I used to be able to online;

4-Costs in terms of any errors made (understanding, manual entry) that will need to be corrected later; and

5-Costs in terms of erosion of customer retention / stickiness -I am now, for the first time, open to moving to another pension provider.

Notice, this is the reverse of that which digital transformation initiatives seek to do! To simplify. To automate – do away with manual steps and associated errors. To reduce the time lag. To reduce cost to serve. To improve the customer experience.

Why is it that I used to be able to manage my pension investments online at the MyAviva online portal/site and cannot now? Because I took out 25% of my pensions in cash (as I am allowed to) and crystallised my pension pot. That’s the official reason. Does this make sense?

No! This rationale does not make sense. The fact is that I own that pension pot. I decide where my pension pot is invested. That means I get to switch into and out of funds as/when I like. So why not allow me to do that online? If there are additional checks that must be done, then introduce them into the online process – technology is great at checking /validating.

Why turn a great customer experience and a happy customer into a customer experience that sucks, and creates an unhappy customer? I consider this to be a great example of business stupidity. What do you think?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Maz Iqbal
Experienced management consultant and customer strategist who has been grappling with 'customer-centric business' since early 1999.


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