#13: Systems to Support the Client Experience

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Why Strong Systems Will Make the Client Experience Better 

Let’s start this post off with a question:

Why can’t you get a burger and a beer at Starbucks?

You might have chuckled to yourself and thought we were being facetious, but we want you to really think about why they don’t serve that type of food. If Starbucks wanted to sell beer and hamburgers they would have built their business model (mission, goals, processes, systems, marketing) around that goal. 

But that wasn’t the decision that Gordon Bowker, Jerry Baldwin, and Zev Sigel made back in the 1970s. They decided, intentionally, to be in the coffee business. That dedication, rigor, and quite frankly master of scaling the business has led Starbucks to be the largest coffee house in the world. 

What can the rest of us in wealth management and financial planning take away from this example?

Starbucks has clarity about who their customer is, what they want, the type of product they will produce/serve, and how they will serve them. Basically, Starbucks has done something very similar to the client service matrix that we have discussed in previous blog posts. They deliver a consistent customer experience across 30,000 stores by focusing very deliberately on coffee and tea, not burgers and beer. 

They know their client experience offering and in order to find success, you do too. This allows you to build systems that bring consistency and value to the experience. Simon Sinek calls this the clarity of the why, the discipline of the how, and the consistency of the what

How can you use all of these things to improve your client experience? It all starts with a strong, repeatable, and proven set of processes. Today we are going to take a closer look at the role processes play in your business and how to leverage them to improve your client experience. 

Processes Are the Building Blocks Of the Client Experience

One of the things we talk about a lot here at CX Institutional is creating a strong client experience. On the surface, you might think that comes from exceptional customer service and delivering value and while that is true, we invite you to dig a little deeper. 

What makes a strong client experience? A repeatable, consistent, and high-value service. How can you get there? With impeccable processes. Processes produce tasks, which combined with advice and service, yields the client experience. 

First, standard processes make your business more efficient. When you improve your efficiency, the day to day operations happen more smoothly, consistently, and in turn, clients are served better. 

Another important step of building the best process is to have the right professionals executing each step. The head sales advisor, for example, shouldn’t be coordinating wire transfers just like your paraplanner shouldn’t be in charge of closing a million-dollar account. By putting your staff in roles where they excel, your client experience already improves because you are able to build deeper relationships with the client by doing what the client expects from each one of those roles.

By creating strong processes and having the right people complete each task, these systems also allow you to disseminate your mission and serve more households.

It’s no secret that more and more Americans are needing financial advice. At the same time, we have a shrinking number of advisors, which means every practice needs to become more efficient to best deliver unbiased, independent advice to as many households as possible.

Sometimes processes and efficiency can be viewed from a negative lens, propagating profits as opposed to providing better service. But that’s just not true. For us at CX Institutional, we always want to serve more households that fit into our mission. That’s the whole goal, right? To serve the type of people your business was designed to do and to serve them all well. 

Efficiency isn’t greedy, rather it is mutually beneficial. When we serve our interests as a business and become more profitable, we actually do a better job of expanding on our mission and providing the best advice. 

Can Standardized Be Customized?

A common critique of standardizing processes is that you will lose creativity, nuance, and customization. Well, we are here to turn that idea on its head. 

Standardized systems allow for more customized client experiences.

But if a process is standardized, how can that lead to a tailored client approach? Let’s think about it like this: customers have unique thoughts, motivations, fears, and desires, but they don’t need customized systems and processes to deliver it. 

They need consistent standardized processes to help them meet their goals. Although clients have variance in their motivations, the service matrix shows that there’s a finite number of things that we do for them in a wealth management business. Those things need to have systems and processes to be done with confidence and consistency. Take a minute to think about what those things are.

  • Accept deposits
  • Invest money
  • Make distributions
  • Deliver advice
  • Create financial plans

Virtually, everything we do falls under the headings of service, advice, or investments.

Of course, every firm will have its own emphasis, or twist on the service, advice, or investments, but in the end, that’s what we all deliver. Starbucks does coffee, tea, and pastries, we do service, investments, and advice. Within that, everything we do should have the best practices guide to complete it. We should know what we do, when we do it, how long it takes, and who does it.

Let’s go back to the Starbucks example to help illustrate this point. Starbucks has systems to deliver you a drink. You place your order at one end of the counter and pick it up at the other end, and in-between is a detailed system to produce a custom drink.

According to the Huffington Post, there are more than 80,000 possible combinations of drink orders at Starbucks. You can go hot, cold, espresso, tea and there’s a uniqueness to what is produced for each individual client, but it’s still created by following the same consistent process. 

By developing strong processes and delivering them efficiently and consistently, you are cultivating stronger relationships with your clients. Prioritizing efficiency doesn’t mean losing intimacy. Rather with the right systems and the proper people executing each role, you can maintain a level of customization and deliver on what your customer really wants, which is a deeply caring thing to do.

Manage Processes, Lead People 

A key element to creating strong processes is having the right people assigned to a given role. We know that from earlier. But it is important to remember that we manage processes, and we lead people. 

People don’t want to be managed. They want to be inspired, heard, appreciated, and valued. All of that needs to be deeply integrated into your management philosophy in order to find, train, and inspire people who will be successful in their roles. 

Systems can be corrected, improved upon, debated, and troubleshot. But people are so much more complex. You should lead your team by modeling, examples, and clearly illustrating how to bring those processes and systems to life. 

You can sit around and develop and design a client service matrix all you want but if you don’t have a team to carry it out, the plan won’t have a chance. It would be a mistake to ask your employees to adapt to the system. Instead, great leaders allow people to bring their authentic selves to work and use their skillset to help the company deliver its mission. 

One thing we have talked about in the past is our firm’s mission to guide clients throughout life’s most important financial events. It’s so interesting how closely aligned our mission to clients can become with our mission to team members when executed the way it was designed.

Rely On Your Client-Service Matrix

If you find yourself stuck on how to create the right systems and processes for your business, go back to the client-service matrix you created. 

This will give you insight into who your clients are, what they need from you, and the best way you can serve them. Taking the time to think through this will give you greater insight into how to systematize your processes and consistently deliver what it is you promised to clients. 

We are passionate about providing resources to help you design, develop, and execute a system that works for you. Our client experience worksheet is free for you to download and fill out as you start to scale your business. 

Feel free to visit our Resource Library for more resources and information about building a business that is true to you and your clients. 

Further reading