The Misunderstanding about Client Experience

The industry is now at an inflection point. There are two strategic priorities: achieving excellence in client experience and managing transformational change.
PWC Global Banking and Wealth Management Survey 2013

The conclusion in this PWC survey served to reinforce what Greene Consulting anticipated back in 2010 – that the next major focus for financial services firms would be around the Client Experience. It was becoming clear to us that no longer could firms in our industry differentiate themselves by their product offerings, delivery model or even technology. All of those today are table stakes.

Further confirming this expectation, over the last 3 years the majority of the firms with whom we speak have ranked Client Experience as one of their top three strategic priorities. Great news for us given our anticipation of this priority. And given our passion for helping our clients improve the lives of their clients, we could see that the industry was recognizing the need to get serious about better serving the needs and buying preferences of today’s client.

However, based on these conversations it has also become quite clear that many in our industry do not yet fully understand (1) what Client Experience truly is all about, and (2) the impact effective implementation and execution of it can have on their results and reputation (both internal and external).

The Disconnect

When we first engage with one of our prospective clients, we seek to understand their current state, what they are trying to accomplish, and what their challenges or obstacles are to getting there. In terms of priorities and objectives, the most common responses include one or more of the following:

  • We need more prospects
  • We need to improve the effectiveness of our sales force
  • We need to tap into our existing clients for expansion and referrals
  • We need to differentiate ourselves with our clients and in the market
  • We need to define a consistent client experience
  • We need to better leverage our internal bank partners for lead flow
  • We need a sales process that will drive more new business
  • We need to market ourselves better
  • We need more and better sales talent

Do you notice anything about this list? This is where the disconnect is regarding Client Experience. When we hone in on the topic of Client Experience, most acknowledge that it is definitely high on the list, but often respond with something like, “our client sat scores are already pretty strong and our retention rates are good.” Or “we plan to address the Client Experience, but first we need to focus on selling more.” So while Client Experience is a strategic priority, they often leave this “tactic” to a marketing or another support group to define and then at some point roll out (preferably when it does not get in the way of selling!).

So by now you probably get my point. What many don’t yet recognize is that all of the items on this list could be solved by a focus on one – defining and delivering a consistent Client Experience. Doing so with effective execution WILL most efficiently, effectively and sustainably solve for ALL of the above.

The Client Experience Impact

Six years ago, Greene Consulting entered into a formal partnership with Horst Schulze, the founding COO of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel chain. For over two years we worked with Horst and his team to deconstruct and translate the processes and procedures that served to drive the incomparable Ritz-Carlton guest experience into a framework that could do the same for financial services firms. That framework was broken down into three key areas of the client experience:

  • The Sales Experience
  • The New Client On-Boarding Process
  • The Relationship Management Experience

For the last four years, Greene Consulting has leveraged that work in serving several financial services organizations in the Retail Banking, Mass Affluent, and HNW segments to help them define and deliver a consistent Client Experience aligned with their organization’s mission, culture and strategic priorities. The key is not only being able to define and implement the desired experience, but most importantly, then having the processes and discipline to operationalize that experience. Simple? Yes. Easy? No! But those who have executed effectively are well positioned to solve for ALL of the issues on the list above.

Not only has this served to drive growth, expand share of wallet, increase leads, and enhance sales effectiveness, but it has also led to measurable increases in client loyalty, heightened credibility and lead flow from key internal bank partners and improved recruiting and retention of talent as a result of the enhanced sense of organizational purpose… all leading to a flywheel of success in growing revenue and distinguishing your offering from the rest of the pack.

For more information about Greene Consulting and our services, email Rick Swygman or call directly at 404-324-4600.

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