As we’re now in an era in which people are putting a priority on experiences, financial advisors need to recognize the importance of designing and delivering a consistently distinctive client experience to increase loyalty, organic growth and attract new clients.
London-based Accenture PLC’s 2019 Global Financial Services Consumer Study found that “financial services customers are more willing than ever to share their data – provided that data sharing powers integrated propositions and offers that are tailored to their needs. The pressure is on for banks and insurers to provide highly personalized services.”
Furthermore, another study from Indianapolis-based consulting firm Walker Information Inc. found that client experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020.
Yet, when advisors are asked, “Why do clients choose you?” they often answer, “Because we provide good service,” followed by returns, portfolio strategy and their approach to wealth management. But there’s a difference between client service and client experience.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you call your travel agent to book a trip. She responds quickly and finds you a good rate; that’s good client service. Now, let’s presume she sends you a brochure with fun ideas for you and your family to enjoy and there’s a small, thoughtful gift waiting for you at the hotel. That’s client experience.
To design and deliver exceptional client experiences, the following three important elements need to be a major part of the equation:
1. Emotions. According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, 95 per cent of human decisions are based on emotions. You may think your clients made a rational decision in selecting you as their advisor, but the reality is that their decisions are based on how they feel about you, your team and your brand. Emotion is what drives purchasing decisions.
2. Hyper-personalization. Connect with what’s important to the client. The best client experiences are about small, tailored actions delivered exceptionally well. When you pay attention to the small details, such as asking, “How are Samantha and John doing?” instead of “How are your kids doing?” it shows you’re there and that you’ll take care of the bigger things, too.
3. Simplicity. According to New York-based branding consultancy Siegel+Gale’s Global Brand Simplicity Index, 55 per cent of consumers are willing to pay more for simpler experiences and 64 per cent of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand because it provides simpler experiences and communications. We tend to complicate things and justify why we’re doing so. Keep it simple.
The key when putting all this together in order to execute and deliver exceptional client experiences is consistency. Consistency instills confidence in your clients, which nurtures trust because they know exactly what they’re getting by working with you; then, with trust comes organic growth and referrals because you’ve managed to satisfy their pain points. Your clients are far more likely to refer you to their peers if they know you can deliver the same quality of experience every time.
So, how do you position your business to deliver consistent results? It starts with the important task of segmentation and identifying who are your A, B and C clients because it helps you establish a priority system for them. Next, you need to develop a service plan that outlines how many meetings, calls and interactions you will have with each client segment. The final step is to create a detailed service offering that highlights what the needs of your A, B and C clients are.
With your framework in place, you’ll need to turn your vision of exceptional client experiences into measurable actions. There are three tools you could use to do that: Road maps are an easy way to show how you intend to take your client from point A to point B and help establish both their short- and long-term goals. Client profile sheets allow you to centralize your client data, so you know whom you’ll meet, when and why, according to their road map. Business protocols describe the step-by-step guide for all interactions. For example, how a client meeting will take place, who’s responsible for it and when it needs to occur.
The client experiences you deliver and how you make people feel are the reasons why people choose you over the competition. Design it intentionally and deliver it consistently.
Sara Gilbert, business strategist and mindset coach with Strategist Business Development in Montreal, helps financial advisors implement tailored business-development strategies to grow their businesses and to attract, grow and retain clients.