In 2019 my mother told me she had no interest in learning how to use a computer or getting online. In 2020 she is a ‘senior whiz’, emailing me several times a day.
In 2019 I took time and care to wrestle my hair and face into something presentable for the world, for each online meeting. In 2020 what you see is what you get.
In 2019 a large number of advisors were responding to questions on digital client experience with some version of “my clients don’t want that.” In 2020 we’ve learned that such definitive statements are impossible to make.
Over the last several weeks I’ve been writing about how the client experience needs to evolve, shining a light on the seven questions we believe every advisor needs to be asking.
- How much contact is enough?
- How do your clients want to meet going forward?
- Do clients want to connect differently? (Think social media)
- Do clients expect more ‘self-serve’ or digital options?
- How will client communications need to evolve?
- How will your client conversations need to evolve?
- How do all of these things affect your referral strategy?
Today I’ll tackle the shift in demand for digital options, on the understanding that everything we believed about digital has shifted in the last year.
Remember, you can download our new ‘Comeback Plan’ and complete the assessment for a complimentary, personalized report on how to evolve your client experience.
The Journey from Need to Preference
There is no doubt that this industry has seen a significant shift toward the adoption of a more digital client experience. For many (or most) the shift was born of necessity. We simply didn’t have a choice.
That digital shift went beyond the most obvious changes, such as moving to web meetings. It increased the awareness, importance and value of all things digital from access to data, to scenario analysis to the use of more interactive tools during reviews.
In the last year, we have moved from thinking about what we ‘have to deliver’ digitally to imagining what is possible.
Experience Changes Expectations
As clients began to use digital tools more frequently (and out of necessity) something funny happened. There was a shift from need (“I don’t have a choice and can’t wait to get back to normal”) to preference (“I want to use these tools even once we get back to normal”).
The difference between where we started and where we will go is ‘experience’. As human beings, we tend to shun the unknown. We say we ‘don’t need something’ when the reality is that we don’t understand it. We say we ‘don’t want something’ when the reality is that we don’t have an understanding of how it can impact our lives.
When we remove the barrier of a lack of understanding, our expectations begin to shift. I’m sure you see the journey in your own life.
Think about how we think about on-line shopping.
- I have no interest in online shopping. I like to touch and feel what I’m going to buy. And then….
- I’m getting quite good at online shopping. I have access to a far greater range of options and better prices. And then…
- I’m never going into a store again. Why would I put myself through that?
The Journey to Differentiation
In our industry we are quickly making the leap from technology as a necessity to technology as a preference. And advisors may need to think about how they position the digital tools that are available. The most progressive advisors will lead with technology as a support for the deep expertise they provide while others will make excuses for technology as a necessary evil during a global pandemic.
(That was then.)
(This is now.)
|We are now able to meet virtually.||We offer options for reviews that suit your schedule and your needs.|
|We provide ‘self-serve’ options to view your account.||We have developed a suite of tools to ensure you can access the right information at the right time. No waiting.|
|We have responded to the global pandemic by providing you with more digital tools.||We combine expert advice with technology to provide you with a more robust client experience.|
Focusing on the Right Things
We have worked with a number of firms who wanted to assess the value of the digital tools they make available. As you think about the evolution of your client experience, you’ll also need to gather client insights to help you focus on the right things.
It’s easy to get this process wrong.
To help you understand where you need to focus, here are some areas to evaluate with your clients and in the order this needs to be done. Remember, however, that when you are assessing digital tools, it’s not the tool but the outcome that matters. Don’t ask clients if they value having the ability to view a long list of granular details regarding their portfolio. Ask if they value having immediate access to the information they need to support their own decision-making in real time.
First: Focus on awareness
It’s important to assess awareness of the digital tools you offer. Before you think about usage and value, ensure you are clear if clients even know what’s available. Then target your follow-up. Don’t focus on reinforcing value with someone who isn’t aware of what they can use. Instead, focus on how you are supporting them through the tools you offer and why those tools are important.
Second: Focus on usage
Among those clients who are aware of what is available, you’ll want to assess how, and how often, they are using those tools. Then target your follow-up. Don’t assess the value of a tool with which a client has limited or no experience. Instead, focus on examples of how the tools can be used regularly to support their goals.
Third: Focus on value
Among those clients who are using the available digital tools, you’ll want to assess how much they value each. Then target your follow-up. Don’t assess what more you could do to enhance your tools with a client who doesn’t value the tool in the first place. Instead, focus on the core benefits of the tools and how each can impact their lives.
Remember that making your business more efficient isn’t a compelling benefit for the client; they need to understand the impact on their lives.
As you think about your digital experience, ask yourself a question. Are you reactive or are you using this transition as a point of differentiation?
Clients don’t value something you have to do in response to a global pandemic; they expect it. Those advisors who truly embrace this massive shift toward digital, gain a deeper understanding of how they can use technology to support clients, and position this as a differentiator will be the winners in the long-run. And so will their clients.
Thanks for stopping by
P.S. You can assess your own client experience and where you may need to evolve by clicking on the following link, accessing our free ‘Client Comeback Plan’ and taking the assessment. We’ll send you a personalized report and ‘readiness score’ to help you take action.