Marketing Info

Let your customers build your business

Some consultants will argue with the old adage that in order to have a more successful business, you need to create an excellent “customer experience.” But what does that actually mean?

The proverbial “customer experience,” though often discussed as a monolithic topic, is, in fact, the sum total of the customer’s perceptions of your business. This includes the cumulative effect of every customer interaction that you have with your firm. Hence, consultants try to map the customer’s journey in order to design an excellent customer experience. To do this involves stepping into the client’s shoes and visualizing their response to each touchpoint, then fine-tuning said touchpoints until we get the desired responses from the client.

“Put yourself in your customer’s shoes” isn’t exactly a revelatory piece of advice, but what if we step out of our customer’s shoes and just listen to them?

let your customers do some work

When we strive to design an excellent customer experience, we bring with us all of our experiences, beliefs, habits, beliefs and, perhaps most important, our egos. We think we know what our business should look like and what customers want, or need. So, when we try to step into our customer’s shoes, we bring all our preconceptions with us. Things change, and not everyone sees the world the same way. Maybe your view of how things should be at one time was correct, but not so much now. And, really, there was never a time when your approach was right for everyone.

The answer to this riddle can be deceptively simple. just listen. If you suspend your own beliefs about how things should be and really listen, your customers will tell you how they want things. Their feedback will reshape your firm to suit their needs. They won’t do the heavy lifting, but they will give you the blueprint.

capturing information

Securing constructive customer feedback is easier said than done, but there are several proven methods that consultants can employ:

1. Ask individual customers directly. Surveys can be useful, but I think they’re more suited to collecting yes/no type responses and getting feedback on your specific ideas. They are often less conducive to provoking open-ended responses, where valuable information is contained. Having direct conversations with customers is generally a better approach. Not everyone feels comfortable sharing their feelings in this environment, especially if those feelings are negative, but if you are genuinely interested and open, most customers will provide valuable insight.

2. Set up an advisory board consisting of a cross-section of your clients. Advisory boards can give good results, but you need to be prepared to put in the time and effort.

3 “Capture the Buzz.” This includes actively collecting questions, comments, complaints, requests and feedback from customers in the normal course of business. If your team shares documents and discussions naturally, you’ll find a wealth of actionable information.

What do you do with it?

You can’t jump to react to every buzz you capture. Which will result in anarchy. You need to develop a way to organize the information you’ve gathered and find useful nuggets. Here’s a framework we use at our firm:

1. Look for the pattern. Are there certain ideas or themes that appear frequently? If so, you may have the opportunity to meet a wider customer need.

2. Are you a good fit to capitalize on the feedback? If the requirement and the skill set of your firm are not well matched, then you should pursue this idea.

3. Is the suggestion in line with your firm’s vision? Just because customers want something doesn’t mean you have to provide it. Stay focused on your mission.

4. Do you have enough resources and bandwidth to pursue this idea? There is nothing more frustrating for your firm and your customers than the half-hearted execution of a new idea.

5. Are you excited about the idea? If you don’t approach your business with enthusiasm and energy, the implementation of the new idea will be poor, and your customers will notice.

Let the renewal begin!

Encourage your clients to share their thoughts and wishes about your firm. Suspend all your preconceptions, really listen and document what they say. The difference between their wish list and what your firm actually looks like today should make up your to-do list for 2022.

Scott McKillop is CEO of First Ascent Asset Management, the first TAMP to provide Investment management services to financial advisors and their clients on a flat-fee basis. He is an ambassador for the Trusted Standards Institute and a 45-year veteran of the financial services industry. he can be reached here [email protected]

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