In a challenging economy, you can only count on client loyalty
Remember the 1980s classic Back to the Future? Well it’s time to go back to the future in business process and remember how service excellence and client loyalty was everything to a business, says Darrell Hardidge.
There weren’t any websites, social media, Google, Linkedin, email, etc. There was the phone, face to face, posted letters and they all had to ensure they built unshakable loyalty. If they didn’t, then a financial business needed the local paper, the yellow pages, signage and sponsorships to attract clients – it was very slow and very expensive.
What if the best practices of the past and the digital power of now were combined onto a very unique process of service delivery and client relationships? Imagine the influence available to a smart operator who could leverage both.
Back to basics
If you were to assess the client base of most financial service businesses, you would find a severely under-leveraged business model. Rarely does the client base understand what’s on offer and rarely does the business truly understand client needs. Mostly, it’s reactive and compliant business; and if the client doesn’t connect, there isn’t much going on. The reality of complicated compliance and red tape often impacts the best intentions of a financial business, and client experience is reduced to a minimum.
When the market gets tough professional services are often seen as expensive and unnecessary – when the opposite is true and even critical. The key reason for this belief is because their past experiences haven’t been of great value, both financial and personal. ‘I have to do it so spend the minimum’ – the result is reluctant transactions from the market.
The solution is very simple its just not so easy to implement. In the past, there was a high focus on face-to-face or phone communication, it created connection and was a powerful factor in building trust. Financial professionals took the time to engage with their market and really got to know their clients and businesses. Partially because they simply had more time, there was less to comply with. This simple process created opportunity as communication was open and trust was there to explore solutions. The relationships were stronger and therefore advice was more open to be given.
Here’s a simple test you can do, firstly with your team and then with your clients. With your team, ask them to write down all the services you provide and the ratio at which they believe they generate cashflow. There is a strong chance you will be stunned at the lack of awareness to all of your services and how they are split. Then ask your team to report on how these services are implemented to their clients and the reasons why more can’t be offered. Don’t accept ‘I don’t have time to do it’ – that’s a guarantee it not happening.
Consider what is possible out of the existing client base if all of your clients could be offered the ideal solution. How much additional revenue is just sitting in your client base right now?
The next stage is to ask your clients what they know about all your services and expertise. This will also be a big awakening. I know of one firm that did this exercise, it had 32 services on offer and the most any one person on the team could recall was nine. When it asked it’s clients, it was even lower. The opportunity from this simple exercise identified approximately 35% of additional revenue as immediately available.
The challenge was the standard of client relationships being mostly reactive – and the major issue that many in the team were reluctant to offer additional services as they thought it would be hard-line selling. In fact, it was their professional responsibility to ensure their clients were at least aware of what they should be doing. They changed the mindset from selling to professional advisory, and they were all over it.
Never assume you have unshakable client loyalty, it has risk written all over it.
Different isn’t always better, but better is always different. Don’t just use technology to be different, use highly-engaged client connection to be better.
Darrell Hardidge is CEO of Saguity
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