I don't think there's any doubt that you, like your peers, believe that the needs of your clients should drive your client experience.
Easy to say, but really hard to do at a time when client needs are changing.
And based on the number of registrations for the webinar we ran last week, it seems the industry agrees that we need to have a deeper conversation about what clients need - right now - and how the client experience will need to evolve in response.
If you're interested, grab a coffee, sit back and access a full replay of the webinar here.
Or, if you prefer to read a re-cap here are the highlights and recommended actions.
We all share an overarching goal - to deliver a client experience that is deeply engaging for our clients.
And while we’ve witnessed significant change in how the client experience is being delivered over the last year, that change isn’t the biggest problem. It’s not only that client needs have changed, it’s that client needs are changing. Those needs are fluid.
To respond we need to create a “Responsive Client Experience”. A ‘Responsive Client Experience’ is one that is built on a foundation which reflects your clients’ fixed expectations but is flexible enough to allow you to respond to changing needs or emotions.
The plan to get there has four critical steps.
1. Invite input from clients, and then use that input to:
2. Change the client conversation
3. Enhance your client communications
4. Evolve your client experience
Don't lead with assumption.
• You’re not a proxy for the needs and preferences of your clients; you can’t lead with assumption. Therefore, we need direct input from clients to understand if or how the client experience needs to evolve.
• Gathering client input is more important (right now) than gathering client feedback. It’s more important to know how your clients are feeling, where they are challenged and what concerns them, then how you are doing in delivering service.
• It’s not your clients’ job to define your experience. Don’t ask what you should deliver. Instead, understand how they are feeling, where they are challenged, what is changing and what they prefer. It’s your job to close the gaps.
Implement a robust process to not only gather input from clients but to actively use that input in your business. Consider client advisory boards, client interviews or, for more in-depth insights, a client survey.
Co-create the client review using real-time insights on client needs and challenges.
• Client self-confidence is the new risk. Client self-confidence is a proprietary index from Absolute Engagement incorporating the extent to which clients feel financially secure, in control, confident and clear. Even a small increase in client self-confidence can have a substantial impact on satisfaction, Net Promoter Score and loyalty.
• Clients will often report that they feel “fine” but this can be a trap because it’s difficult for clients (or humans) to articulate and label how they are feeling.
• Client conversations can’t be about what you want to share but what clients need to hear.
Use direct input from clients on how they are feeling, where they are challenged and what concerns them to co-create the review agenda. This is more effective than asking clients if there is anything more they would like to add to the agenda.
Connect the dots between what clients say they need and the communications you provide.
• Client needs and interests have changed. Based on investor research from Absolute Engagement, clients are interested in learning more about things like health and wellness, caring for aging parents and leaving a legacy for charity.
• Clients want to consume content in different ways. As in-person events have become a thing of the past, there is an increased interest in such things as webinars and videos.
Use direct input from clients on what they are interested in learning about to design a client communications strategy that is personalized to their needs and resonates based on the current challenges they are facing.
We need to respond, longer-term, to changing needs rather than react, shorter-term, to external events.
• We’re not going back. Research from Absolute Engagement suggests more permanent preference changes (for many clients). We are not ‘waiting it out’ so we can get back to normal but need to think about what an extraordinary experience will look like if delivered in a different way.
• Clients need more contact because they are feeling less certain. At the same time, younger clients (under 50) demand more frequent contact so this change isn’t going away.
• Clients want to connect differently. While clients haven’t had a choice as to how they meet with their advisor in the last year, many want to continue to meet virtually going forward.
Because change is fluid and it continues, it is difficult to design a client experience that feels ‘permanent’. Instead, consider what commitments you will make to clients in 2021 and revisit that in 2022. We need to get comfortable with change.
During the webinar I went deeper on the research that supports the key findings and the tactics you can use to take action.
Thanks for stopping by,