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Touch on touchpoints

Reading a biography on ex-England rugby coach Clive Woodward and his attention to detail suggested some ideas about how advisers could also benefit from a focus on ’critical non-essentials’

I have just finished reading Clive Woodward’s biography by Alison Kervin. It’s a cracking read and provides a fantastic insight into the way Woodward prepared the England team for the 2003 rugby Union World Cup.

One of the key themes about Woodward’s approach is his attention to detail. He recognises that it’s enormously difficult to improve key areas by, say, 30, 40 or 50 per cent but it is actually quite easy to improve
lots of smaller, seemingly less important, things by 1 or 2 percent.

Woodward calls these the “critical non-essentials”. Woodward made himself unpopular with RFU officials
by spending money on things that they felt couldn’t improve results. Things like building an equipment store by the training pitch to reduce the time spent lugging training gear from the main building, which resulted in a few extra minutes of training per session.

Woodward’s approach got me thinking… what are the critical non-essentials when it comes to delivering an outstanding client experience?

For me, an examination of each and every “client touchpoint” is the place to start. Let’s look at some examples.

Touchpoint 1: website
Far too many adviser websites talk “about us” the adviser or firm. They also tend to be overly technical, perhaps in some mistaken belief that
clients want to know just how clever you are. What if your Home page was “about you”, the client? What if it described your client’s concerns, frustrations, worries and situation so accurately that the visitor immediately sees that you understand (and can therefore help) people like them?

Touchpoint 2: telephone

  • How do the people in your office answer the phone?
  • Is what they say consistent?
  • What impression does it create about your business and about the likely client experience?
  • Is it warm and welcoming or does it give the impression that the call is something of an imposition?
  • How do common or routine questions get answered (such as “How much do you charge?” or “What services do you offer?”)?

There is nothing wrong with insisting that the phone is (or that specific routine questions are) answered in a particular way. This is your business, so help your staff to understand the way the phone and specific questions should be answered and, more importantly, why. A
script that allows individuals to overlay their own personality will deliver greater consistency. Why not get the staff to consider how they would like the phone to be answered if they were the client and let them come up with the script?

Touchpoint 3: written

  • Communications How consistent are the letters and emails that you send to clients? Are they consistent in terms of font, style of language, tone of voice, format of signature?
  • What impression do they create of your business?
  • Do they reinforce your brand image and key differentiators?
  • Do you have standardised email and letter templates for common actions?

’It can often be the little things that transform an averageclient experience into something exceptional’

  • Does your email signature let client know you welcome referrals?
  • Do the same professional standards apply to both emails and letters?

There is a tendency to be less formal in emails than letters. Conversational is fine, overly familiar… no thanks.

Do you use a newsletter as a way to achieve “multiple touches” with your clients throughout the year? If you outsource that, does it still meet all of the above criteria? Is it also relevant, engaging and interesting to each client segment?

Touchpoint 4: meetings at your office

  • What first impression is created by the way your office looks? If you are in a multitenured building don’t overlook the reception area or the way the building looks? I’ve worked with one business whose own office was let down by a scruffy communal entrance in dire need of redecoration.They’ve now moved.
  • Does everything about your office match the image you are seeking to create?
  • Has a car parking space been specifically reserved and labelled for the client?
  • How are clients greeted when they arrive? Does your receptionist even know they are coming?
  • What material is available in reception for clients to read if they arrive early or, perish the thought, your previous client meeting over-runs?
  • Does each meeting have a personalised agenda to demonstrate to clients that you are prepared and to ensure you retain control of the meeting?

It can often be the little things that transform an average experience into something exceptional. Carefully review each of your client touchpoints and ask yourself some of the questions above. Implement improvements and watch your client relationships strengthen and your referrals increase.

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