Are you confident your clients are receiving modern customer service?
As consumers, each of us constantly interacts with service providers, salespeople, property managers and even the Department of Motor Vehicles. We all know when we’ve received fantastic service and we also know when we’ve been treated like a number.
Most of us appreciate the satisfaction of staying at a hotel like the Ritz Carlton and being on the receiving end of its famous brand. And we surely all know the deflating experience of staying in a place that couldn’t care less about how you feel.
While there are many reasons for the chasm in service, the Ritz Carlton became the Ritz Carlton by obsessively listening to its customers and responding to their needs.
As technology has evolved, and with the turn of the calendar to 2022, my firm has again been examining what it looks like to provide first-class client service. We’ve been identifying things that used to be highly valued, but aren’t any longer, and we’ve waded into areas of service that are valued today even though they weren’t important only a few years back.
A client wants quality advice, timely access to their adviser, and to be treated with dignity and respect.
No one ever wants to be spoken down to.
This year, two key questions have emerged: What new technologies will improve the service we provide, and what tools are our clients using in their careers and personal lives that they might like us to implement?
I recall a day in the early ’90s when I asked a client who’d moved to London how he felt about working with me from more than 5,000 miles away. He playfully needled me for not using email. Understandably, with the time change and distance, he didn’t want to rely on catching one another via phone.
I began using email.
Today, you probably wouldn’t consider doing business with someone who didn’t communicate via email, texting, Slack, Teams, Zoom, etc.
It doesn’t happen overnight, but the regulatory entities catch up, and there are now compliance-approved services that enable text messages to download to your computer. We adopted Zoom in response to Covid, so our clients could see our faces and we could easily share the financial plans and strategies relevant to their accounts. The result has been that virtual client meetings, rare only a few years back, are now here to stay.
We don’t adopt new technologies lightly, but we do embrace the useful ones quickly. One way we decide what we want to implement (or at least consider) is that every other year we ask our clients to provide detailed feedback on communication. We learn myriad things, such as their preferred mode, frequency and comfort level with the available technologies.
If given the opportunity, your clients will tell you what they expect. From there, you can modify your offerings to ensure you continue to provide relevant, modern customer service that the client values.
The key, of course, is to ask, evaluate and adapt.
[More: Planning for beyond the new year]
Scott Hanson is co-founder of Allworth Financial, formerly Hanson McClain Advisors, a fee-based RIA with $13 billion in AUM.
Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He’s also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.