Ask yourself these questions: Do clients see that your entire team knows them and is across their latest thoughts, issues and concerns? Or do clients receive multiple duplicate emails from you? Does clients need to explain their situation each time they interact with someone different at your office?
In the service industry, nothing is more important than trust and relationships, and clients’ expectations continue to rise. They want to be sure you know them, and are across all the interactions your business has with them. This is fundamental to becoming a true client-centric business and increasing satisfaction levels.
How many places are you storing client information across your business? Outlook, marketing systems, Excel, and advice tools may all hold such data. One business I met with recently had 17 sources of truth – 17! Searching for scattered data and re-entering it dramatically reduces your staff’s productivity (just ask them how they feel about it). If they need to access multiple applications and re-key client data just to prepare for a meeting, it’s highly inefficient for them, and creates a poor experience for your clients.
You need to be collecting all your client touchpoints in one central source. In the old days, this meant tracking calls and meeting notes in a database. In today’s digital world, it means tracking clicks on newsletters, blogs, websites and client portals, capturing data from all sources and interactions that make up the client experience. Only by capturing these activities and integrating these systems with your customer relationship management (CRM) will you benefit from a single source of truth and consolidated insight into your client relationships. But how do you do that?
One source of truth
Start by identifying all the client interactions you need to capture. Work with your team to create a list of all touchpoints – from phone to email, website to blogs. Walk through your entire client experience, end to end. Be sure it’s truly comprehensive and view it from the clients’ perspective.
The tools you use for running advice have a different purpose than the tools you need for running your business. Old CRMs in our industry typically started out as advice tools and calculators, and have expanded over the years, based on what advisers have been demanding. But the purposes of the business tools, and the environments where they’re used, are totally different from those of advice tools. Real businesses have realised this and will select best-of-breed tools of both kinds that talk to each other.
You need input and buy-in
Select the system you will use to aggregate the data. Does your current one have the capabilities you need? If not, which one are you going to use? Options include global players such as Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce, or customised and tailored solutions for wealth-management businesses that are built on these platforms, such as PractiFI on the Salesforce platform. Don’t forget to think beyond their raw capabilities: How intuitive is the interface for your staff? Can you mould the platform to meet your changing needs? Does it have an application programming interface to move data to the advice tools you use? Can it be integrated easily with new advice tools and calculators?
Make sure your entire team participates in the selection process. You need input and buy-in from all areas of your organisation, as they need to own this decision. They are the ones who will ultimately be using it. Where appropriate, and in particular where it’s not you or your team’s area of expertise, use a skilled external consultant to help steer and guide you. Think about how your business may evolve over the next few years; ensure you are selecting a system that can adapt to meet your needs. Having to shift CRMs can be disruptive, so don’t think of this as a short-term solution.
Work to ensure buy-in and adoption of your CRM system. Having your entire team represented in in the selection process can reduce any speed bumps. But even if that doesn’t happen, there are strategies that can help increase usage. Be clear and consistent in communicating that there will be one source of truth; state plainly, ‘If it’s not in the CRM, it doesn’t exist.’ Pull up your CRM data in meetings, and have that drive the discussion about what is and isn’t happening regarding sales, marketing, works in progress, timelines, conversion ratios, client service activity, and the client experience. Your team will quickly respond as they realise that anything they want others to see needs to be in the CRM. Make sure the processes you adapt make things easier for staff; the quickest way to encourage adoption is to create a more efficient process. Don’t create additional steps for the sake of reporting – make sure your reporting comes automatically from a simple set of steps needed to track and manage the client relationship.
The payoff: more referrals
There are numerous benefits to moving to a centralised and fully integrated CRM strategy, ranging from ‘industrialising’ your practice so it’s not so dependent on any particular individual, to increased productivity with the ability to manage many more client relationships, all at the same service level, with the same amount of resources you had beforehand. But the most significant impact will be the increased client satisfaction. One of the best drivers of growth for a firm is referrals from existing clients. Increasing their satisfaction will result in meaningful increases in referrals and higher growth rates for your business.