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Customer expectations are changing and many could be asking themselves if they are with the right adviser, so now is the time to introduce the three management tactics outlined below to transform your business

Steve Billingham
Steve Billingham, Director, Steve Billingham Consulting

Why is outstanding customer service so rare? Why is it apparently so hard to deliver? The quality of the client experience you provide to your clients has never been more important to the success and health of your business than it is today. The volatility and uncertainty of the last few years has shaken the confidence of investors and continued uncertainty about the future economic outlook simply serves to magnify that. Against that background, it is likely that many clients are asking themselves: Is my current adviser the right one for me?

In a 2008 US study, four out of five affluent investors said they were dissatisfied with their adviser and were considering a change. I suspect few did change but this is more likely to be due to inertia than a sudden upswing in satisfaction hardly a great retention strategy.

I came across the following stats, which reflect the changing level of customer expectation:

  • 24 per cent of UK customers have stopped doing business with a company within the last six months due to a bad customer experience. Key reasons include poor product or service quality, rude or disinterested employees and not being able to get hold of someone to solve a problem. (Source: Satmetrix)
  • Only 2 per cent of UK customers feel that customer service experiences generally exceed expectations. A third say they consistently fail to meet expectations. (Source: American Express Customer Services Barometer)

73 per cent of consumers end a relationship due to poor service, with the main root causes being, having to repeat information, having to wait too long and interacting with staff who have no knowledge of their situation or add no value to the business. (Source: Genesys)
The same collection of research suggested that, according to UK customers, good customer service includes:

  • Listening and understanding what the customer is looking for
  • A friendly approach
  • Making sure the customer feels valued
  • Staff who take care over their appearance

The financial benefits of delivering a first-class customer experience are also supported by the research. For example;

  • 74 per cent of customers are prepared to pay more for a better service (Source: Retail Eyes Report)
  • UK consumers are willing to pay a 7 per cent premium for the privilege of good customer service and 70 per cent say they would do more business with an organisation that offered “decent customer care” (Source: American Express)
  • In a business to business environment, “delighted” customers are five times more likely to repurchase than merely “satisfied” customers (Source: Ipsos Loyalty Report)
    So, what does all this mean for an advisory practice? The data seems to suggest that:
  • Customer expectations are rising and are likely to continue to do so
  • Being easy to deal with and responsive is crucial
  • Consistently providing a personalised and tailored experience to clients is key

Doing so consistently (and it will be those who do, that succeed and prosper in this more demanding environment) will create competitive advantage and move price much lower down the client’s agenda.
Delighting your clients in order to retain their business and maintain their loyalty by giving each client a personalised and memorable experience at every touch point will mean great things for your business, including:

  • Lower client turnover
  • Higher revenue per client
  • Less time spent on marketing to find new clients
  • More assets to manage for each client
  • More (and better quality) referrals
  • More introductions to your client’s other professional advisers
  • Increased revenue and profitability

So, how can you delight your clients (assuming you are not already)? Here are three steps. OK, they might feel uncomfortable at first but they have the potential to transform your results.
1: Really reconnect
Talk to your clients about their biggest concerns, frustrations, worries, needs and goals. Once you have that information, you are much better placed to personalise your service.
2: Widen your net
According to the Cap Gemini/Merrill Lynch World Wealth Report, high-net-worth individuals are validating the advice they receive, using other sources, including other advisers. Leverage that trend and let your best clients know that you are happy to offer a second opinion to their friends, family and colleagues as a value-added service.
3: Call them
Yes, just pick up the phone to your top 20 clients, just to touch base, armed with some talking points.
Use this as an opportunity to reassure them and deliver something beyond that which your service proposition commits you to. Start by asking about their health, family, business, holiday, etc. They want to know that you care about them as a person, not just about their wealth. Keep in mind the old adage: “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.”

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