There is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of advisors share a common goal. They want to deliver a client experience that is deeply engaging for their clients.
But the last year has put a spotlight on a challenge of rather epic proportions.
We all understand that things have changed. However, it’s not just that client needs have changed, it’s that they are changing. Those needs, challenges and concerns are fluid.
It’s not only that client needs have changed, it’s that client needs are changing.
Despite it all, we often design the client experience as if client needs are fixed. We ‘set it and forget it’, so to speak. And that's the biggest client experience mistake we can make.
I’d like to suggest that we need to take a different approach and design what we call a ‘Responsive Client Experience’.
Designing a ‘Responsive Client Experience’
A ‘Responsive Client Experience’ is one that is built on a foundation which reflects your clients’ fixed expectations, but is flexible enough to allow you to respond to changing needs or emotions.
A simple analogy is this. A modern website is responsive, based on the device you are using to view the content. In a similar way, the client experience needs to be responsive based on what clients are feeling and experiencing in their lives.
This doesn’t mean that your client experience will be in constant flux. It’s about recognizing which aspects of your experience should reflect enduring client expectations and which need to respond to the things that clients need in the moment.
It helps to think about client needs on a spectrum, from fixed to fluid, and highlight which aspects of the client experience are impacted.
Understanding Client Needs
The reality is that your clients (humans, really) have needs that sit on a spectrum, ranging from relatively fixed to extremely fluid. And those needs impact different parts of your client experience.
Let’s break it down.
At one end of the spectrum are those needs that are relatively fixed. They include client expectations regarding things like your:
- Investment or planning approach
- Knowledge or expertise
- Experience in working with clients who are similar to them (e.g., a niche)
Fixed needs should be reflected in your offer, your credentials and your target market. These aspects of your client experience will rarely change.
In the middle are those needs that are somewhere in between fixed and fluid. These are the things that change in response to our life stage or (as we’ve seen recently) world events. They include your clients’:
Semi-fixed needs may change from time to time and those changes should be reflected in your client communications, education or events.
At the other end of the spectrum are those needs that are more fluid and can change week-to-week, day-to-day or (on a bad day) hour-to-hour. They include your clients’:
Fluid needs are, as the name suggests, changeable (because we’re human) and should be reflected in your client conversations and reviews.
People Are Complicated
A truly progressive client experience is complicated, because people are complicated.
You can deliver great service simply by defining solid service standards and delivering on those consistently. If the goal is to drive deeper engagement and to stand out from the pack, you'll need to think about client experience differently.