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Improving your client experience

Measuring and improving your client experience can help develop clients who are real advocates of your firm, easy to work with and continually making referrals, says Rebecca Aldridge, director of Think Smarter Consulting

I’ve noticed a growing emphasis recently on firms talking about measuring and improving client experience, with a real recognition that this can have a significant impact on their success.

The aim of improving client experience is not to have satisfied clients (a satisfied client never referred anyone), but to have delighted and engaged clients, who are real advocates of the firm, easy to work with and continually making referrals. Embarking on a client experience project will not necessarily be easy but it will certainly be worthwhile. Before you start, think about the following:

  • What impact does client experience have on your business at the moment?
  • How are you going to measure it?
  • How will you manage an action plan for change?
  • How will you know that your project to improve experience has been successful?

Current impact on your business

To start with, think about measures such as the number of complaints you receive, and the amount of time your team spends on resolving problems. Not only are these a drain on resources and profitability, they represent a business risk. Could this be improved with a better client experience?

You could then look at measures around referrals. How many of your clients have referred friends and colleagues to you? Would you like that to increase?

Look at your records of new enquiries and analyse how many suitable people then go on to become clients. What are the reasons why they choose another firm over you? Could the client experience be part of it?

Measuring client experience

Gather as much useful information as you can about the experience you deliver to clients. If you are using a survey, carefully consider your questions and link them to those areas you suspect could be improved. You may want a mixture of questions with 1-5 scores and some with free text answers. Here are some suggestions:

  • How would you describe our firm and service to your closest friends?
  • How would you describe your ideal financial adviser?
  • What could we do better?
  • How much do you enjoy working with us? (1-5)
  • How easy is it to work with us? (1-5)
  • How well do we communicate with you? (1-5)

You might then want to think about drilling down deeper. Select some of the most interesting responses and invite them to meet you for coffee so you can understand more. You should now have a real gold mine of information.

Once you have your data, you should see some common themes and be able to put responses into three groups:

High scores of 4 or 5. Positive responses
This group are engaged and satisfied. Willing to refer clients

Average scores of 3. Unremarkable responses
This group think you are just average. They are unlikely to refer and are not engaged.

Low scores of 1 or 2. Poor or negative responses
This group are not engaged or impressed. They are at risk of complaining or moving elsewhere.

You will want to take a different approach with each group, bearing in mind that you want to move as many clients as possible into your top group.

Action plan for change

Carefully assess what you’ve found and make an action plan with clear priorities and timescales. You will probably want to tackle the low hanging fruit first and then consider those actions that could be a bigger drain on resource or budget. For each, you’ll need to decide whether the action or investment is worth taking.

Outcomes of a successful project

Think about the impact that you want this project to have on your business. Increased referrals? Reduced complaints? Increased team morale? More business from your existing clients? These are your measures of success.

Assess the current position for each of those measures, and then review them regularly over the following year. If your action plan is on track, you should see a trend of positive change, and the project will have had a real impact not just on your clients but also your team and your business.

For more information on Think Smarter Consulting

 

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