All too often, I hear advisors discuss client surveys as a way to check on how they are doing. The problem with these surveys is that they tend to focus on the advisor and the advisor’s business and not much on the client. As a result, advisors are missing huge opportunities. In today’s post, our guest blogger Julie Littlechild talks about a “Voice of the Client” strategy that can truly differentiate your business.
It is time to step away from the half-baked and tactical approach to client satisfaction surveys and think about a true strategy that focuses on creating a better client experience – from the client’s perspective! Julie walks us through the steps and even has additional research that we can download to learn more.
Please enjoy this post from Julie. – JDA
There is little doubt that you put your clients first and think about them as being at the center of everything you do. They are, after all, why you got into the business and what keeps you going each and every day.
But there is a difference between putting your clients first and implementing a strategy that actively uses the "voice of the client" to define the client experience. The first is table stakes and the second is a way to truly differentiate your business.
I’d like to dig in on the concept of integrating a voice of the client strategy into your business – what that actually means and how you can take action.
Don’t confuse the tactics with the strategy
I have built a business and career encouraging advisors to use client feedback to drive deeper engagement and uncover untapped opportunities within their business. My extreme fondness for an effective client survey is no secret.
However, I think it’s important to recognize that a client survey is just one tactic to support a broader voice of the client strategy in your business. As easy as it is to do, when we confuse the tactic (a client survey) with the strategy (voice of the client) we may miss all of the other ways we can actively involve clients.
And, we may miss the fact that it is the strategy that is the true driver of differentiation and success.
What is "Voice of the Client" research?
"Voice of the Client" Research (VoC) is focused on creating a formalized process to gather input from clients that allows you to design a client experience around their needs, wants and challenges. While VoC represents a single, over-arching strategy, the methods used to execute upon the strategy depend very much on your business and your goals.
Those methods may include common approaches to gathering feedback, such as client interviews, focus groups, advisory boards or surveys. However, VoC can be defined more broadly than direct feedback to incorporate insights from other sources – everything from website usage patterns to comments on social media.
Broadly defined, a VoC process can capture everything that clients are saying about a business, product, or service and brings it all together to provide you with a clear perspective on your firm, offer or brand.
When you think about all of these potential tactics, it’s clear that VoC is more an approach to doing business rather than a single method of gathering input. The methods you use depend very much on your unique objectives.
Why does it matter?
If your goal is to design your experience around the needs of your clients, it’s important to check your assumptions at the door. That is, we need to stop assuming what is important to clients and not only ask them better questions, but evaluate their behaviors to shed light on what you can do to support them.
It’s easy to say the client is at the center of what you do but it’s another thing entirely to take input from clients, use that to understand their needs and then tailor the experience accordingly. But when you get it right, you can set yourself apart and create a deeper level of engagement. It’s a win for you (because engagement is tied to referrals) and a big win for your clients (because they will help to create exactly the right experience).
Let’s get real. While an extensive VoC strategy sounds compelling, it’s probably too complex and expensive for advisors to execute – even successful ones. For that reason, we’ll focus in on how you can realistically and cost-effectively integrate a VoC strategy.
3 Ways to Integrate VoC
For advisors, we believe there are three critical ways to integrate the voice of the client to create a deeper and more personalized client experience.
1. To guide the experience
You can integrate a VoC strategy to help you define, refine or enhance the client experience using the following methods:
- A survey that examines what is most important to clients and their expectations, now and going forward.
- Brief issue-specific surveys/polls designed to enhance an on-going activity such as onboarding, client reviews or plan presentations.
- Exit interviews to understand why some clients leave.
- Focus groups/advisory boards to go deeper on some of the issues raised through any of the above methods of integrating the VoC.
2. To measure the experience
You can measure the client experience through an annual or biannual survey that assesses your
success in delivering an extraordinary experience. You may consider one or more of the following metrics, each of which has pros and cons:
- Net Promoter Score
- Perceived Value
3. To co-create the experience
The most progressive advisors understand that the voice of the client can have a profound impact on your ability to personalize the client experience. That is, you can take client feedback and use that to deliver the support, guidance and education that is most important to your clients. You are using their feedback to co-create the experience at the client level.
We believe that integrating the VoC into your business is more than a nice-to-have for
those firms that want to stand out. It’s about more than simply asking for feedback, but that’s a very good place to start.
You’re welcome to download our latest Innovation Update on the topic of integrating the VoC for additional insights, why this is a critical strategy and tips on getting started.Access the report
Julie Littlechild is the Founder and CEO of Absolute Engagement, a firm that helps financial advisors gather client feedback and design a compelling client experience that will drive significant engagement, revenue and referrals. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of Julie Littlechild. SEI bears no responsibility for their accuracy. Julie Littlechild and Absolute Engagement are not affiliated with SEI or its subsidiaries.
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