Customers, Clients or Members

Written by Stephen Fallowell - Committee member, published in PensionAge

In our inter reaction with organisations we give and are given various titles; members, customers and clients. We do not normally pay attention to what we are called providing the service provided meets our need. But definitions are important as they often determine the way we are envisaged by the service provider. For instance:

Members: Individuals belonging to a group or organisation

Customer: Persons who buys goods and services

Client: One to whom services, usually professional are rendered

In Defined Pension Funds individuals are viewed as members which has the tendency to ignore the fact they are also customers and clients. This narrowing of terms leads to a myopic vision in which the Pension Fund takes a paternalistic stance of doing what is best for the member while ignoring their viewpoint. This positioning was recently exemplified by a ‘Mallowstreet’ survey that showed only 26% of Pension schemes prioritised membership engagement.

Does this matter when in the same survey the priority for Pension schemes was maximising benefits and minimising costs for the members? Ignoring the financial planing needs of members and their environmental and social investment preferences does not provide the service quality a Member, Customer or Client expects. Pension funds should not be defined by closed thinking.   

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