Co-Creation and the Future of Engagement
What a week!
Exactly seven days ago we announced the launch of the Engagement Engine. The feedback and support is humbling, and we couldn’t be more excited about the future of prospect and client engagement in this industry.
Like all significant evolutions, the announcement happened on a single day, but the path to that point started years ago. And it all started with an epiphany about the future of client engagement. Today's post is all about how we see that future unfolding.
The epiphany was that the future of engagement would be co-created.
Simply stated, co-creation of value focuses on how firms (you) work with clients to create value. Think about those words carefully. It’s not about how you deliver value but how you create value together. The implication is that 'what’ you deliver cannot be separated from the role of the client.
The concept has been discussed in academic circles since the 70s and influenced a number of direct-to-consumer industries along the way. There is a depth of research and evidence that supports the idea that co-creation of value drives deeper engagement and profitability.
Since then our collective understanding of co-creation of value has deepened and our ability to deliver on it has been enhanced as a result of technology.
Why does this matter? Because when value is truly co-created it cannot be easily or reasonably replicated. It is unique to the interaction between client and advisor.
Co-Creation: An Example
There are two types of co-creation of value. Both are important but one drives deeper engagement.
Let’s use Apple to make the point and use two (real) examples related to how they provide support to customers.
- Involvement in design. Apple invites input from their customers on an on-going basis and uses input on their needs and preferences to design their model. The experience reflects what is important to customers, on average, but there is a separation between the input provided by any given customer and the service he or she receives. That’s involvement in design.
- Involvement in delivery. When you call Apple to get support you may be placed on a brief hold. Before that happens, however, you’re asked what kind of music you’d like to listen to while on hold and can select from the options provided. The experience, as a result, directly reflects the input of the customer, in real time. The experience would be different without that input so the input and the outcome are inextricably bound.
The first form of co-creation drives satisfaction. The second form of co-creation drives engagement.
Bringing Co-Creation to Life
For years we helped advisors invite feedback and input about their clients' needs and expectations. That input was not only used to measure performance but to influence the experience they delivered. You could argue that that is a form of co-creation because it involves clients in the design of the experience.
But we knew that we needed to push the industry further, when it comes to co-creation, in order to drive engagement. We not only needed to actively involve clients in the delivery of the experience but extend that to prospects as well.
Let’s look at two examples of how co-creation comes to life for advisors.
- You’re meeting with a prospective client (as an individual or couple) and, as they are booking the meeting, invite them to share input on how they are thinking about the future. On the basis of that input you automatically share an agenda that reflects their true needs and concerns. That’s co-creation of value because the conversation would have been different without the input of the prospect.
- You’re meeting with an existing client and invite input in advance of each review meeting. On the basis of capturing their input over time, an agenda item is created to examine how the couple differs on key concerns and how that gap has widened over time. That’s co-creation of value because the agenda would have been different without the input of the client.
Can you see the difference? Rather than just asking prospects and clients what they want, we’re actively using their feelings, needs and concerns to change what they experience.
Making Great Advisors Better
We’ve always known that advisors have a super-power when it comes to creating connections and digging deep. You could argue that any good conversation is co-created, otherwise it would be a one-way conversation. And that would be odd, at best.
To operationalize co-creation, however, we need to combine that super-power with technology and that’s what led us to where we are today. The Engagement Engine makes it easy to reveal and respond to the true needs of prospects and clients in real time – to co-create the experience.
The reason that co-creation of value is so powerful is because it informs a client experience that cannot be commoditized. It gives the client more power in designing the client experience and creates true differentiation in the process.
Sidebar: The Struggle
I talk about this journey as if it was easy and straightforward. I’d like to tell you that was the case, but it was not.
It’s one thing to have an epiphany and quite something else to do something about it. As a team we believed that the future of client engagement was co-creation. But how could we not only convince the industry of that, but transform how we support advisors to make it a reality?
The path from hatching a vision to execution is challenging, invigorating, emotional and, if I’m honest, frightening. It involved countless hours of internal meetings, discussions with our clients, significant development time (and money) and pivots….many pivots. We all became comfortable with discomfort and we continued to push until it was a reality. I know you get it and I hope you are as excited about the outcome as we are!
Thanks for stopping by,
P.S. Our new breakthrough engagement technology is here to help you offer prospects and clients a more engaging experience with less effort. Book a demo today.