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#11: A Differentiated Client Service Matrix

We are living through a shift in the financial industry. 

The best financial practices have moved away from making Wall Street firms, products, and even the advisor themselves, their primary focus. Instead, they have made the client the center of gravity. With the client taking precedence, a firm’s business model has to deliver service and experience that matches, and even exceeds, the client’s needs and wants. 

But, of course, not all clients are looking for the same type of experience. Some advisors solve this problem by developing a narrow niche and honing in on a particular type of client like executives, business owners, or pre-retirees. This approach can be successful, granted the mission statement, and values are tightly crafted but with a broader mission statement, you will need to be able to develop a system that caters to a variety of client needs. 

How can you deliver an optimum experience that serves various clients’ needs and still maintain a profitable business? Let’s find out. 

Creating a Client-Service Matrix

A service matrix is a system that allows you to analyze your service offerings and identify the type and level of service your clients will receive. Your service matrix is designed to help you strategically position your offerings to fit your target audience.

So what does a client service matrix solve? One of our belief statements at CX Institutional is we believe all Americans should have access to independent and affordable advice. Since our mission is quite broad, we’re serving everyone from young accumulators, to pre-retirees who are saving as much as they can, to families at the beginning of their retirement who have started taking distributions, to business owners and people closer to the end of their lives who are focused on legacy and estate planning.

As you can imagine, each of these types of clients needs a different level of service, frequency of contact, investment strategies, and professional knowledge from their advisor. One resource to help you tailor each type of client’s unique service experience is our client experience and pricing worksheet. 

Start with your Mission

The mission of your firm needs to be your first step. Your mission should illustrate your core beliefs as a company and answer a few important questions,

  • Why are you going into business? 
  • What problem(s) do you want to solve? 
  • How are you going to make the world a better place?

Once you have a clearly defined and communicated mission, you will be able to focus on the purpose of your business which provides valuable insights into who you are going to serve.

Use your Mission to Carve Out Client Profiles 

When you know who you’re serving, it’s much easier to decide what the customer experience should look like. For businesses that serve multiple client profiles, the client experience becomes all the more important, especially tailoring each experience to what each group needs and wants at a scalable rate.

Start by making a list of the two or three specific client-types that your mission calls you to serve. Next, write down a description of each client type. Perhaps you want to separate your tiers based on AUM or other fees, or maybe your tiers are centered around the complexity of services required. No matter how you divide your tiers of clients, be sure to do it from a client-centered perspective. 

We have seen many firms divide clients into categories based solely on revenue and that veers into an advisor-focused territory that doesn’t put the client’s needs first. So as you establish your tiers, do so with the client’s best interests in mind.

Flesh Out Scalable Service Models

Creating customizable, scalable experiences is the goal. How can you get there? Well, it will start by asking you and your team to think through the entire operation of the client experience. Let’s start with something financial advisors know well, an investment strategy. These questions can help get you started:

  • Does each tier receive a different investment touch?
  • Will some tiers receive a special or additional service like tax preparation or tax-loss harvesting?
  • What is your investment strategy and philosophy? How will you implement that across your tiers?

Now that you have your tiered client list and how you will divide service offerings, the next step is to think through the team. Here are some questions to think about:

  • Which team members are involved in each stage of the client experience? (new advisor, veteran, or both)
  • What services will each involved team member provide?
  • How will the process operate?
  • Does your service require any other specialists like a planning specialist or liaison and how will they complement the process and work with other team members?

The important thing to remember here is that different services should be delivered by different people. Let us say that again, different services should be delivered by different people. By harnessing each team member’s strengths, you are able to deliver enhanced quality services. 

The next step is to outline how you will run and operate meetings

  • How many meetings will each tier receive? How will they be conducted and who will be leading them? (quarterly, annually, virtual, in-person, etc.)
  • What is the strategic intent with each and every meeting? (purposeful agendas)
  • What is your process for ensuring you and your team meet those standards?

By walking through the process step by step, you are able to create a process for each tier with purpose and intention. This brings a customized flare to a scalable process. 

Refine your Firm’s Tools and Techniques

So you know the importance of a client service matrix and have clearly identified your tiers and service offerings, what comes next? You’ll need to think through your overarching financial planning process. To do this, ask yourself some questions:

  • Is your firm goals-based or does it take a comprehensive approach?
  • What software will you use to complement your process?
  • How will you manage and input data?
  • What workflows and processes will you set up and how will those be implemented?
  • What will your planning sessions look like and how often will they happen?

This is the time where you can be creative and really hone in on your process before implementing it or training any team members. In fact, we worked on our system for the better part of 6 months before even starting to roll it out. This is a comprehensive process that asks a lot of questions and forces you to think about each and every detail of your client experience. 

But if you take the time to do this, you will develop a system that is not only client-focused but represents the best you are able to provide to your clients and your staff. 

As you know, we love to provide our readers with accessible resources. This week, it is a client experience and pricing worksheet. You can download this document from the resource library or click the link below.

Further reading