Mass scale and customization sounds like an oxymoron; the notion that you can efficiently wholesale produce and deliver a service while still providing each customer with a uniquely tailored experience. It is the success formula for companies like Netflix and Amazon and the driving force behind today’s roboadvice platforms.
As the financial services industry continues to consolidate and private equity money favors businesses that can attain the highest levels of operational efficiency, advisors should be focused on how they can achieve both scale and customization within their own businesses. Here are four practice management to-dos that accomplish both:
1) Utilize a highly customizable CRM.
The most complex CRM systems like Salesforce give businesses the ability to create customized workflows and automate, from the simplest to most complex, business processes. Advisory teams should create multiple workflows across each aspect of the client engagement spectrum, from lead generation to next-gen client nurturing.
For prospects and leads, consider the activity that should be completed prior to a lead becoming a warm lead and ultimately a client. i.e. How many days post-initial introduction should a phone call be made by the assigned relationship manager? How many times should he/she continue to reach out if the initial call goes unanswered? At what point does the lead get dropped into an automated newsletter mailing list?
For current clients, consider the various service tiers for clients of varying demographic profiles. i.e. A business owner client with comprehensive planning needs would trigger a separate workflow than a just-out-of-law-school attorney paying ongoing fees for advice.
2) Integrate technology end to end across the wealth management spectrum.
You can’t possibly scale your business if you have a CRM system that doesn’t speak to your planning software that doesn’t speak to your investment management platform, and so on and so forth.
If you are upgrading systems ensure that integration points exist with all other systems you use. Appoint someone as head of technology (assuming you don’t have a chief technology officer) and empower them to stay in-the-know on best in breed wealth management tools and technology. Invest heavily in client facing tools that enhance the client experience but don’t increase the implicit costs of service (i.e. your time), for example: meeting scheduling apps, client satisfaction questionnaires and virtual meeting tools.
3) Segment clients by common preferences and needs.
Grouping clients together by common needs and preferences allows you to scale the services you provide (i.e. create repeatable workflows and deliverables) while still ensuring clients feel like the deliverable is unique to them. Busy female executives, professionals who own their own businesses, families with special planning needs: build tools, processes and service teams around each of your client groups. In other words, develop a philosophy around how you serve clients in each of these segments. Hire relationship managers or service advisors who can align to and serve each of these segments.
You may be wondering how to handle clients who fall below a certain threshold of assets or revenue. Apply a multi-tier methodology after initially forming each group; each group may have a comprehensive planning option, an asset management or single-issue option, and a fee for advice option.
4) Poll and survey your clients.
Do you know what your clients consider an “exceptional client experience?” Make it a habit of asking them through easy to produce and mass deliver survey tools, like Survey Monkey. Ask a combination of free form questions like: “Describe your best and worst ever client experience,” and multiple-choice questions like, “What type of service experience most appeals to you?” Use the data that emerges from these surveys to make tweaks in workflow and updates to clients’ CRM profile notes.