Advice Matters

Sunday January 20th 2019

For financial planners, advice is the key deliverable. We will keep you up to date regarding trends, ideas and other important issues relating to advice. Please contribute to the advice discussion and feel free to comment on any of the articles we post. We value your opinion. You’re also very welcome to share the articles with your friends or colleagues.

The latest Advice Matters articles are reflected below.

What’s the difference between client service and client experience?

Businesses often confuse customer service with customer experience for various reasons, yet there are clear and important differences.

THE DIFFERENCE
Client service is reactive and focuses on human interaction and directly supporting the client. It is only one piece of the puzzle and forms part of the client experience. Client experience is the client’s entire journey with your practice including all interactions with your business and products.
It begins with the on-boarding process and initial engagement, including go l setting, data gathering, strategy development and scenario modelling, advice implementation, ongoing client communication, client segmentation and review processes.

THE ALIGNMENT
So, how do you align your client management processes to demonstrate the value that your clients expect from you? It is important to understand that client service is a reactive approach which usually is in response to a negative experience from an unhappy client.

Client experience is about the way you treat your clients and interact across a multitude of touchpoints e.g. asking your clients if they have made any plans for their birthday and suggesting dinner at an exclusive restaurant owned by one of your clients who is a world-renowned chef.

Likewise, your clients perceive value in the services you offer. Differentiating by price or fee discounts is no longer a sustainable strategy for client retention. However, offering a valuable client experience at every touchpoint will set you apart.

According to the CEB Sales Leadership Council’s study on client loyalty, 53% of client loyalty is influenced by the sales experience. The valueto-price ratio only influenced client loyalty by 9% and brand impact as well as product and service delivery were influenced by 19% each. This clearly shows that you need to create a client experience that makes clients want to do business with you and nobody else.

WHERE TO BEGIN
Start with capturing, analysing and improving your end-to-end processes. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients. Would you do business with yourself? This demands complete honesty and the ability to critically analyse every aspect of your value chain. You can even outsource this process to your business coach. Alternatively, ask your clients for feedback on their experience of your practice and your staff. Create an easily accessible way for customers to give feedback.

Social media is changing the way people communicate and engage and face-to-face contact is steadily declining. Consequently, it is more challenging to build emotional connections, but technology will never replace the human connection that we all need. Clients still value the human touch and great relationships and communication are key to ensure the very best client experience.

THE OUTCOMES
Formulating and implementing a service level agreement (SLA) for each client segment in your client base provides a service model to offer client service. However, framing a workflow system to manage the relationship, i.e. a CRM system that alerts you when a client has an upcoming anniversary or birthday, so that you can then give them a call or send them a special gift, is client experience. Your CRM system merely supports client experience but it’s your uniqueness and personal touch compared to your competitors that will stick in the minds of your clients.

You need to make sure that your clients have a great experience to not only retain their loyalty, but also spread the word through referrals and even social media. Happy clients are the best recruiters and word of mouth remains one of the most powerful ways of promoting your practice and services.

BOTTOM LINE
Although client service is a vital part of the entire client experience, it’s important to understand the difference. Great client service will avoid client complaints and bad reviews but it’s only part of the overall experience. Customer experience should be at the heart of everything you do.