Consistent delivery of great client experience drives stronger relationships and this leads to better practice outcomes. Unconvinced?

Have you ever considered how your clients’ experiences of using services like Netflix, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook are influencing their expectations of your service and relationship? If you are personally using any of those services, you will already know they deliver a high quality experience that is continually improving. It’s human nature for us to expect other services to emulate those provided in our daily lives.

A recent Google search for the term ‘customer experience’ returned 3.21B results. The change in the level of interest in Australia since 2004 clearly demonstrates that this topic has and continues to attract strong interest. With interest comes intent and then comes action.

The significant interest in customer experience (or CX as it’s better known) has been driven by a realisation that what a customer experiences before, during, and after interacting with a business is critical to commercial success because we now live in the ‘experience economy’. This is where many goods and services are sold on the basis of their impact on people’s lives. We all know that financial advice, when delivered well, should positively impact people’s lives. That means you are now competing in the market based on the client experience you promise and deliver.

And that’s why client experience should be high on your list of things to execute well against to grow your practice.

What Is Client Experience (CX)? 

You may think that CX is limited to delivering great client service or making sure you are in regular contact with your clients through a formal communications strategy. It is so much more than that.

CX is the perception your clients have of you and your practice during all aspects of their financial advice journey.

Why Is CX Important?

Delivering great CX across all phases of the client journey is critical to sustainable growth. Some of the tangible benefits include:

        • Higher conversion from prospect to client
        • Smoother onboarding
        • Improved client retention and longer client lifetime value
        • Generating more referrals to grow the practice

A typical client journey, together with other important linkages, is depicted below.

Client Journey - Foundation

To emphasise, CX plays an important role in the before, during, and after stages of client engagement.

For example, ensuring a prospect enjoys a great experience during the ‘Awareness’ phase of their buying journey is likely to trigger their decision to ‘Consider’ your services rather than those of other advisers in the market. Similarly, a new client’s experience throughout the ‘Onboarding’ phase is likely to influence the extent to which they embrace your advice and renew on the first anniversary of becoming a client.

Getting Your CX Foundations Right

Just like any building requires a strong foundation to survive the years ahead, it’s important that you give serious thought to how you can set your practice up for success through CX. Here are some of the key issues to think about and address (this is not an exhaustive list):

        • Identify the ideal client
        • Define the value proposition
        • Complete client segmentation
        • Develop client service packages
        • Create a client communication plan
        • Utilise client feedback

Who Is Your Ideal Client?

One of the most important things you need to do is develop a very clear view of who your ideal client is to help guide your practice’s marketing strategies. Who do you want to attract to your practice and work with over the medium to long-term and why?

You may have come across the saying ‘marketing to everyone is marketing to no one’ and it’s so true. Knowing who your ideal client is will save you a lot of time, money, and stress.

If you need some assistance to identify your ideal client, check out our blog post HEREClient fit is an important and closely related aspect to consider and you can learn why HERE.

What Is Your Value Proposition?

Your value proposition is what will attract prospects to your practice from the outset and help maintain your relationship as they progress to become clients and beyond. That’s why it is essential that each practice is able to articulate a clear and unique value proposition.

To clarify, this is a marketing statement that summarises why someone should buy and continue to use your services. It needs to be able to convince a prospect that your advice will add more value or better solve a problem than someone else.

A solid value proposition answers these four critical questions:

        • What services is your practice offering?
        • What are the end-benefits of using them?
        • Who is your target client for these services?
        • What makes your offering unique and different?

For more details about how to prepare a sound value proposition, check out our blog post HERE.

How Do I Segment My Clients To Deliver Differentiated Client Experience?

Segmentation is a useful tool for practices because it allows you to identify groups of clients based on meaningful characteristics in order to align CX to the value being delivered and harvested.

Failure to segment often leads to undifferentiated CX delivery across the entire client base and a sense of loss of control due to being in reactive mode all the time.

Practices typically segment their clients using classification mechanisms such as alphabetical tags like A+, A, B, C, D, etc. or labels like Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Whatever, tags are assigned to each client, the following steps are useful to define meaningful client segments:

        • Define client value – this should be done by determining the core drivers of value in your practice. For example, this could be the size of investable assets, capacity and propensity to introduce new business (referrals), demographic profile, etc. and then rating each value driver and summing the scores to arrive at an overall rating for each client.
        • Define client segments based on the overall rating. For example, create 5 segments and assign as follows (the exact % allocation to each segment is a matter for you to determine):
          • top 5% as A+ clients
          • next 15% as A clients
          • next 10% as B clients
          • next 50% as C clients
          • remaining 20% as D clients
        • Establish processes in your CRM to track each client segment
        • Establish processes to review and update segmentation ratings for each client

How Can I Package My Services To Align Client Experience?

With client segmentation completed, it’s time to think about what each client is entitled to from a service and CX perspective, remembering this is ultimately defined by the core value drivers of your practice together with assigned ratings.

Creating service packages based on each client segment enables your practice to put real structure around its offer and CX.

In its simplest form, this can be done by creating a matrix with the left column listing service features (e.g. frequency of reviews, communication frequency, mode of delivery, service type, SLA expectations, billing frequency, etc.) and the remaining column headings representing your client segments (e.g. A+, A, B, etc). Under each of your client segment columns, provide details for each of the service features.

Service standards are an important component of CX and these need to be carefully defined and communicated to each client so they know in advance what they will be receiving for the fee they pay. These also assist your team to understand what is expected of them and in gaining their commitment to assigned KPIs.

How Do I Create a Communications Plan To Support Client Experience?

Communication is the oil that enables healthy relationships and is critical to your CX strategy. Your practice’s communication plan formally reflects the what, when, who, and how of communications between you and each client segment.

It is typically formulated annually and reflects the needs of your defined client segments as well as prospects as they undertake the client journey. Therefore, it needs to be aligned to the client’s journey and their needs throughout their journey.

The steps you should consider are:

        • Identifying the stages of the client journey where your practice can have the greatest impact
        • Identifying ways in which your practice can have the greatest impact with its communications at each stage
        • Identifying the communications and activities your practice will deliver and how
        • Creating a client communications calendar for the next 12 months

The types of communications you could include (this is not an exhaustive list):

        • Blog posts
        • Third-party articles
        • Links to resources such as TED Talks, webinars
        • Workshops
        • Books
        • Podcasts

Whether formulated for prospects and/or existing clients, please remember it’s all about their journey rather than you.

What Role Will Client Feedback Play In Client Experience?

The topic of client feedback may not appear to be an obvious element of CX, but when you think about it deeply (as we have), feedback is a gift and can have a profound impact on every practice.

Your clients expect you to provide them with feedback about the performance of their investments and whether they remain on track to achieve their goals, so why would you NOT want to get feedback about your performance? It’s the only way your practice will improve because it comes from the only real source of truth – your clients. Done regularly and well throughout the client journey, it will provide you with a wellspring of insights that can be used to address a comprehensive range of practice relevant use cases (see table below).

Use Cases

As you can see, client feedback can touch on almost every aspect of practice operation, so it’s important you have an appropriate system in place to capture, understand and act on collected feedback throughout the client journey. This will help you deliver CX at every stage.

Sharing the results of client feedback with your clients and centres of influence demonstrates your commitment to feedback and the central role it plays in delivering on your client experience promise.

If you are interested in assessing how client-centric your practice is, complete our QUICK ONLINE ASSESSMENT.

Conclusion

The significant interest in customer experience to date has been driven by the realisation that what a customer experiences before, during, and after doing business is critical to commercial success. We now live in the ‘experience economy’.

Financial advice, when delivered well, should positively impact people’s lives. That means you and your practice are competing in the market based on the client experience you promise and deliver.

That’s why client experience should be high on the list of things you’re thinking about to grow your practice. Consistent delivery of great client experience drives stronger relationships which then deliver better practice outcomes.

Dr Ray McHale is CEO of Marketing based Assets International Pty Ltd. His company delivers services to advice businesses (financial advice, mortgage broking & accounting) to help them build and leverage strong client relationships to achieve better commercial outcomes. Ray’s company provides consulting & coaching services in addition to MyNextAdvice™, a software as a service platform that delivers clarity, actionable insights & guidance to improve revenue, efficiency, & compliance using client feedback.

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