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Measure what matters, not what’s easy

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Measure what matters, because what gets measured gets managed. This should be a new mantra for the pensions admin world.

There’s lots going on in the administration world. When isn’t there? If it’s not GMP equalisation or data cleaning, then it’s preparations for de-risking or changes to benefits. Admin can seem like a never-ending succession of hoops, held up by regulators, government or trustees that admin teams must jump through again and again. It’s been this way since forever.
Whilst distracted by the stream of complex change, the industry has allowed itself to become occupied with time-based measures, for example what % of paper did we move on in 5 or 10 days? This seems to have been by a process of gradual and unconscious assimilation. For some boards, this is all they measure. It’s unhealthy for trustees, administrators and most importantly, members.
For anyone unfortunate enough to be either giving or receiving an admin presentation in a typical trustee board meeting, it really can be a turgid affair involving a quick skim of a red / amber / green report, with raised eyebrows where only 93% of paper was processed in 5 days and then a quick shuffle out the door and a sigh of relief (inside and outside the room) because it’s over again for another quarter. 
If we focus administrators on achieving timeliness goals, and moreover if we reward third-party administrators (TPAs) for achieving those goals, then we shouldn’t be surprised if they put all their energy and resources into doing things quickly.  The flip side is that they won’t put energy into more helpful and rewarding activities.
It’s ironic however that, when viewed through the right lens, the subject is really quite interesting. If we start by talking about ‘customer experience’ rather than ‘pensions administration’ then it starts to come to life. The boards that I present to are generally really engaged with how customer experience in their scheme compares with others.
So, what would a balanced scorecard with a member centric view of pensions admin look like? For me it would have a combination of some of the following:
·       Member experience - Arguably the most important measure is the voice of the member themselves. Feedback should come only from members that directly experienced a service and should be focused on the activity or ‘journey’ that the member was engaged with. Single activity focused feedback is actionable – you can learn from it. Measuring member understanding, customer effort and/or net promoter scores provides a rich seam of valuable data that’s healthy to concentrate on. 
·       Hygiene factors - This essentially means paying pensioners on time, setting up new pensions in a timely manner and increasing pensions by the right amount at the right time. I would throw error rates and complaints into the mix and add data quality as well. My scorecard would deduct points for failures in these areas.
·       Volume measures This is often a good proxy for capability and engagement. For example, if you have a great website that offers a lot of rich functionality that members value then they will use it and return in numbers. On the flip side, another key measure would be around the number of inactive members that are ‘lost’. You can’t serve members that you have lost touch with (or indeed pay them when the time comes). 
·       Telephone experience & service - There are countless frustrations that a good telephone system eliminates and lots of helpful measures. Examples include abandonment rates, wait times, menu layers and first contact resolution rates. 
·       Timeliness – Time based measures should be included, but with a particular focus on tasks involving money (e.g., setting up pensions) and a relentless focus on ‘elapsed times’ (the actual wait time experienced by the member, including delays caused by third-parties). 
There are a host of other things that build on these measures that there’s no time to explore here – channel choice, capability and flexibility, customisation of messages etc. Hopefully this list just fires your imagination.
Changing what we measure and manage means breaking a cycle. It’s incumbent on all of those with a duty of care - administrators, trustees and advisers - to make the members’ experience better. 
Who will be brave enough in your scheme to stand up and say ‘it’s time to rethink what we measure, because what gets measured gets managed’.
John Simmonds, Principal at CEM Benchmarking