Consider the following conclusions from a 2012 Corporate Executive Board report titled Building Loyalty Through a High-Quality Client Experience:
- “Clients’ low confidence in financial providers has prompted them to question the value of their financial relationships. As a result, nearly one-half of clients fall in a ‘loyalty zone of exposure’ characterized by inert behavior that presents firms with both a growth opportunity and an attrition risk. With wealth management firms no longer able to differentiate on products or investment returns, they have turned to the client experience as the path to growth.”
- “Clients who believe their firm delivers a Confidence-Building Client Experience exhibit highly loyal behavior and generate twice as much revenue compared to clients who do not believe their firm meets the bar. Moving clients into a high loyalty zone not only positions firms to capture greater wallet share from these clients, but also results in high levels of client advocacy, leading to new client acquisition.”
The conclusions from this study probably do not surprise many of you as most of the financial services executives with whom we speak convey that a Client Experience Strategy is one of their top 3 priorities. Though this study was conducted in 2012, numerous surveys and studies today confirm that clients still do not trust the financial services industry in general, believing we are more concerned about ourselves, our product sales, and our compensation than we are about them.
The solution, we believe, is pretty simple… but not easy! In May, we posted a blog Want to Increase Sales? Stop Selling and Serve! This simple principle is at the core of the “experience” clients are seeking. Clients (and people in general) are naturally attracted to those who place another’s interests ahead of their own (i.e., someone they can count on to “serve them” rather than “pitch them”) and have the competence to help them “get it right” when it comes to their financial affairs. Unfortunately, few are consistently delivering such an experience.
Whether intentional or not, you ARE delivering an “experience” to your clients. The key question to ask yourself is – Is it an intentional, consistent and compelling experience that will lead to differentiation, enhanced client loyalty, bigger prospect pipelines and thereby greater, more sustainable growth and a highly respected and credible brand?
The Time is Right to Go There
Given that so few ARE delivering such a “confidence-building experience”, those who do will position themselves to reap significant and sustainable rewards. Coupled with the profound changes upon us in the industry, those who do NOT engage in such a strategy will likely be left further and further behind.
Consider the following in terms of how you differentiate, and the challenges to what might have worked in the past but will not be effective in today’s marketplace:
Products & Services
- Offering a full array of financial products, features and solutions is now table-stakes.
- Expertise and great service is EXPECTED, not a differentiator.
- With the advent of FinTech and robo-advisors, investment advice is increasingly perceived as a commodity.
- Financial planning capabilities, unto themselves, are no longer a differentiator. All advisors have planning capabilities. But without a defined experience to guide them, planning capabilities too often end up serving as just another tool or calculator for clients to begrudgingly try out.
- Having great people (the first claim of differentiation we hear from everyone ) without a clear strategy and discipline to leverage those great people is NOT a differentiator.
- The traditional value proposition is a dead proposition – or at least should be – as clients have heard the same general “pitch” from pretty much every provider.
- The DOL Fiduciary Standard (in whatever form it comes) is leveling the playing field.
- “Relationship Selling” (which many define as their sales approach) does not get it done, at least at the level and pace needed to meet today’s new business development and revenue expectations.
What most in our industry have historically “sold” and are selling today (at least from the client’s perspective) is beginning to hit the market at a fraction of the cost you are charging, with vast amounts of information and solutions being offered via compelling technology.
So how are YOU going to differentiate and take advantage of the opportunity this changing environment presents? Our point-of-view is by implementing a consistent, client-centric, “confidence-building” experience.
Call to Action – Conduct a Personal Assessment
If you agree fundamentally in the value of delivering such an experience, I encourage you to download and complete the Client Experience Assessment. This is a quick 10-question assessment that you can complete in five minutes or less, based on a few of the key components of the experience we help our clients employ. If you are an executive or market/sales leader, consider the questions relative to your organization/team and your culture. If you are an advisor or banker, consider your personal practice. Your answers to these questions should help to confirm if, in fact, you are consistently and intentionally client-centered and thereby engaging with clients in a way they desire.
If your answers to these questions help to confirm that you are client-centered and more focused on serving your clients rather than selling them, kudos to you and I am confident that if delivered consistently, you will begin or continue to differentiate you and your firm. If not, I encourage you to call us or someone who has experience in helping to define, develop, implement and sustain a truly client-centered experience.
FYI - we will compile the results of this assessment (which will be delivered to us anonymously) and share them with you in a subsequent blog.
For more detail or insight on this topic or any others that may be a challenge to you, feel free to contact me at 404-324-4600 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.