A financial broker meeting with his client.

Building Stronger Relationships through Digital Channels

Improving digital channels by creating operational efficiencies and strengthening relationships for Standard Life.


The Pensions and long-term Savings & Investments ecosystem is complicated. Financial advisers play a key role in guiding customer choices while also ensuring legal and administrative requirements are fulfilled. So, rather than pension providers having a simple relationship directly with their customers, there is often a three-way relationship between the pension provider, an intermediary (such as an adviser), and the end consumer. Employers and accountants can also be included in the mix, further complicating matters. Each of these actors has specific motivations and challenges that are inextricably linked, but not always 100% aligned.

Since early 2016 Frontend.com has worked with Standard Life to improve their digital channels by creating operational efficiencies and strengthening relationships across actors. Our iterative research across stakeholders provides valuable insight into market dynamics. This has a direct impact on design solutions, where we often incorporate nudge theory and behavioural economics to help drive positive outcomes for all. We have also worked with Standard Life to explore and define the role of Digital Services, Tools and Products within the organisation; how it can be developed to create strategic advantage and improve operational processes.

Meeting the Needs of Advisers

Standard Life’s key digital platform for financial advisers is Client View, an online portal that allows advisers to view their client’s policies and related funds. Frontend.com were originally commissioned to improve the UX of the system and reduce calls to the service desk. However, we also saw this as an opportunity for Standard Life to develop stronger relationships with advisers by supporting their work process, identifying opportunities for them, and freeing up their time to build stronger relationships with their end customers. New data-mining features we added to Client View help advisors to identify opportunities and issues, while the new Pipeline feature ensures applications are processed effectively and efficiently. All design solutions support Agile rollout and have been a resounding success with both advisers and internal operations. Usage of Client View has increased by a significant percentage, Net Promoter Score (NPS) in digital services has increased by almost 40 points, and calls to the service desk have shifted from administrative problems to strategic needs, enabling Standard Life to utilise existing resources to strengthen relationships with advisers.

Enhanced user interface for Standard Life Client View.

Building Relationships with Consumers

While relationships with financial advisers are key, strengthening the relationship with customers is essential in the current competitive environment. Getting customers to engage with their pension (and their pension provider) can often be challenging, particularly for younger customers who associate pensions with the distant future and find them difficult to relate to. Such younger customers also have competing immediate needs that deter investment.

Frontend.com conducted primary and desk research to drive creative solutions in this challenging sector. Incorporating behavioural economics and nudge theory we explored the broader customer journey and service design to identify opportunities to engage with customers not only through digital channels but also offline, for example in print statements, call centres, via advisers, etc. Pensions and investments are often perceived as being complex, so we looked to focus on what was important to customers to help them plan for their future. Providing simple, helpful tools has the added benefit of encouraging users to provide additional information about their circumstances, which is invaluable in this data-driven age.

Exploring Internal Processes, Systems, and Culture

Building on the successes of specific digital channels, Frontend.com worked with Standard Life to explore the overall role of Digital within the organisation and how it can improve processes and generate business opportunities. Our approach was multi-channel and spanning the whole organisation, evolving the business from a siloed model to a 360° approach.

Elements from Standard Life strategy presentation.

We conducted research with both internal and external stakeholders, reviewed existing systems & processes, and explored the broader competitive landscape. The key to digital transformation is aligning the business’s strategic vision with a practical and timely implementation plan. Senior management buy-in and support is essential, but we also needed to understand the organisation’s culture and behaviour on the ground, where it inadvertently creates issues and where it could provide competitive advantages.

Following research Frontend.com worked with the digital team and senior management to identify and prioritise opportunities. As part of this process, we also needed to raise awareness of the importance of digital maturity in the current competitive environment with senior management; coupling creative ideas with business reasoning to generate support. We provided support for communicating Standard Life’s digital journey with advisers, demonstrating the benefits to them and how they do business.

Most importantly, Frontend.com continues to work with Standard Life Ireland on their digital evolution, identifying potential opportunities and practical frameworks for implementation. Change takes time and plans must be flexible to respond to new market conditions, however, we also need to maintain a robust long-term vision in order to generate real business impact.