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Business Strategy
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It's the vibe

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Terry-Bell
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24 days ago

In the 1997 Australian movie classic, The Castle, friend and local (inept) solicitor for the Kerrigan family, Dennis Denuto, tries to answer a judge’s question with this wonderful "catch-all" response: “It’s the vibe of the thing, your honour.”

Sadly, the judge didn’t accept Dennis’s carefully constructed legal argument. But perhaps he was just before his time: 27 years on, it seems that "the vibe" is now a hot topic for most service providers.

For example, it’s been estimated (based on KPMG research) that 50% of automobile dealerships will disappear by 2025. Those that survive, KPMG predicted, will evolve from transactional hubs to a more personalised service.

The KPMG report went on to describe the transition of front-line staff from sales-focused to client focused – their attitude, training, skills and incentivisation are all now in play.

The days of car yards with hundreds of models on display, it seems, are well and truly on the way out.

Companies like Hyundai and Mercedes are transitioning their traditional sales rooms into brand flagships (like the "Mercedes me" café in Melbourne’s CBD), with no traditional salespeople and, in the case of Hyundai, no cars! Clients will be able to search online, organise a test drive from home and have their car picked up for maintenance servicing by dedicated "brand valets".

The article concluded that today "the customer is clearly in charge – dealerships must provide choices, personalisation and exceptional ‘experiences.'"

Of course, this new world isn’t restricted to car dealerships. Think Uber and the taxi industry, department stores and online shopping, restaurants and Deliveroo, hotels and Air BnB – all great examples of a newcomer disrupting the established world.

The common denominator for all these "newbies" is that they don't just provide great value for money; they also offer a great experience that promises convenience, friendly/professional staff and smart technology, just for starters.

Yes, the "vibe" is well and truly alive for these service providers, but how about financial planners, risk advisers and brokers? What’s the vibe their clients feel?

When a prospect converts to a client, for example, what happens in your practice? What’s the client’s first impression? If they feel good, confident or – better still – "delighted" by their choice of adviser, you’re on the right track. But if they don’t feel this way or, perhaps worse, you don’t actually know, it’s time to get proactive.

Here are a few tips from some of the very best advisers we’ve worked with about how to create your own distinctive, experiential vibe:

  • Start with feedback: Actively seek clients' feedback on what they liked and didn’t like about their onboarding experience and ask for their suggestions on how your process could possibly be improved. Remember: this is all about them, not their adviser or the practice.

  • The welcome mat: Does your "welcome to our firm" pack make them feel special? Perhaps include a handwritten note from the person who will be servicing the client, introducing themselves and explaining how they can work together to ensure the ‘best’ experience.

    Or: how about including a lifestyle questionnaire asking about how your client likes to celebrate birthdays, their favourite food, favourite sports teams, communities they’re a member of, red or white wine, music preferences and so on?

  • Keep the fire burning: As the relationship evolves over time, perhaps the most important driver of client satisfaction is communication. Its frequency, relevance and level of personalisation all play major roles in keeping clients in the loop, aware and, hopefully, appreciative of their adviser’s efforts.

  • The little things: Do you know how your clients rate their various interactions with your firm – face to face meetings, seminars and the wider range of events your practice conducts?

    Are your clients welcomed to your office by empathic, competent and professional staff? Are they made to feel comfortable? If they’re driving to an in-person meeting with you, are directions provided to the closest parking area or, better still, do you offer a specific parking spot for them?

  • A team effort: Do your staff know their names (as well as those of their family) and generally what’s been happening in their lives of late? Do they prefer tea or coffee?

  • Stay on time: Do meetings start and finish on time? Are they held at "client-friendly" times?

  • On demand: Increasingly, advisers are utilizing technology to deliver a memorable and engaging experience for their clients. How easy is it for your clients to book an appointment online or hold a meeting through Teams or Zoom? Can they access their plan details whenever they wish?

    Online account access for clients has gone from nice-to-have to must-have. According to various studies over the last few years (in Australia as well as the US), the majority of advisory firms now offer some type of client portal which clients access regularly.

If clients today are accustomed to receiving personalised and exceptional "experiences" from their service providers, surely they’ll expect a similar experience from their financial adviser.

For your consideration.

Updated 24 days ago
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