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Treat Your Clients Fairly, But Not Equally—It’s OK!

In Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™, Operational Effectiveness, we take a challenging look into creating a service matrix that serves as your reference on how you will serve each client fairly, but not necessarily equally.  Developing the proper client segmentation is vital in creating, growing and evolving your firm and then applying that segmentation to a service matrix.    To make a service matrix effective, you must determine the type of services you offer and client contact frequency to promote clear communication to clients and prospects.

Determining the best way to align client services within your matrix

A service matrix should be based upon the characteristics of your firm, needs and goals of your firm’s processes combined with the uniqueness of each client and prospect.  Your clients are not created equal in terms of their needs and desires.  Your job is to determine the specific needs of groups within your client database, use the levers in your control to grow revenue and provide first-class service and sales effort.

You owe each client your best effort – not every service

In our blog, “Understanding Purposeful Meaning In Your Client Service Matrix,” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/understanding-purposeful-meaning-in-your-client-service-matrix/ we outlined the principles inside a service matrix.

 
A client service matrix serves several purposes:
• Encourages clients and prospects to use your firm for all of their financial planning needs
• Clarifies what service levels each client can expect
• Aligns advisor time and resources
• Provides a way to thank your most loyal clients

A service matrix will allow your firm to deliver services to different client segments through the use of multiple channels and aide you in delivering outstanding service by defining what activities you will perform based on the profitability of each relationship.  Position your firm to use your service matrix as a central tool in servicing clients and to show differentiation from your competition.

Using your matrix as an external and internal tool for success

 A service matrix serves as an external and internal managerial tool.  Use your matrix internally to:

  • Determine if proper staffing is in place to provide desired results and services
  • Plan, develop and implement tactics for future growth
  • Schedule service items that will be provided to your clients/prospects
  • Generate reminders to all team members

Utilizing your matrix will ensure all services within the matrix are being provided and will allow you to support proactive client/prospect service and ensure you are delivering on the promises you made.

Employing a service matrix is a useful tool when you evaluate the strategic changes in your firm’s service operation.  By paying close attention to the challenges associated with each classification, overall firm performance will improve.

The end result, your firm will be more strategic, efficient and likely more profitable.

“In business, words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises,

 but only performance is reality.”   Harold Geneen

We are curious!!  Does your firm utilize a service matrix?  Tell us about it!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, learn about the human element and hiring and onboarding!

Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020

• Connect with us:


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Defining Client Value Beyond $ Signs

Segmentation is the first critical step toward greater efficiency and ultimately improved profitability. In our blog, “Take the First Step Towards Greater Efficiency With Client Segmentation,”  https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/take-the-first-step-towards-greater-efficiency-with-client-segmentation/ we provided you with basic steps and resources to segment your client database.

Start your segmentation process by defining client value.  Viewing each group with different needs and priorities will present you with the ability to serve each segment based upon their needs, not the firm’s profits.

Client segmentation is about improving customer service for all of your clients.  Use it to deliver solutions more effectively by streamlining and automating the services you offer.  Aligning the right level of advisor support to the client’s specific needs results in increased client satisfaction and in turn may even result in more client referrals.

Advancing Your Client Segmentation Plan

Client segmentation needs to be taken to a deeper lever in order to gain the full benefit.  Once your initial segmentation process is complete, you are ready to segment your client database further by distinguishing clients based on characteristics beyond the dollars.

Many advisors have not segmented their client database in a meaningful way beyond assets under management.  Assets under management will be your constant starting point for segmentation and predicting client needs.   Understanding that clients within the same segmentation class still have extraordinary needs and expectations will allow you to provide matched solutions with your product and service offerings.

Trying to provide the same high level of service to everyone can make it difficult to focus on the more complex clients and on the inevitable changes that come with growth and business development.  Ironstone can assist you in all phases of client segmentation and ultimately design a comprehensive client segmentation plan that will allow you the opportunity to hone in on specific and unique needs of clients within each segment.

Ironstone recommends  you place some of the following attributes in your segmentation plan beyond assets under management:

  • Revenue produced for the firm
  • Quality of your relationship with the client
  • Earnings potential
  • Client lifestyles & life events
  • Client demographics
  • Risk analysis/Behavioral attributes

Applying the above listed characteristics will provide another layer to your segmentation plan and aide in shaping optimal service for your clients.  You may not want to engage in each market base, but you can start with the characteristics that employ the biggest role in improving your firms’ bottom line.   By marketing to each subcategory you will accomplish more targeted messages and information that will resonate with your clients, resulting in engaged clients and prospects, higher response rates and a shorter conversion cycle.

Use this model to segment your clients by determining their level of revenue and the value of the business relationship.08.06.12 Segmentation Guide

Readers, we are curious!!  How do you approach segmentation in your firm?

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  The Human Element-Job Descriptions

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Ready To Jump On The Social Media Bandwagon?

As social media has taken a front seat for many advisors, there is still a high percentage  not taking advantage of this prospecting tool.  Many advisors simply don’t have the time, knowledge or staffing to implement a social media platform.  The benefits of having a social media presence will out-weigh the efforts you invest  developing your prospecting strategy.

The fundamental element needed to implement a successful prospecting plan at your firm is to systematically position your practice to attract new clients.  Choose activities that will put you at your best in order to invoke natural enthusiasm with the purpose of cultivating trusting relationships.  Within  your marketing plan, you will need to develop a comprehensive prospecting strategy appealing to new clients.  Begin with the 7 strategies  Ironstone recommends as your foundation.  If you missed our blog, “How to Write a Prospecting Plan for Your Firm,” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/learn-how-to-write-a-prospecting-plan-for-your-firm/you can read it here.

Top financial advisors have one common denominator:

  • A marketing plan and a follow-up strategy

 The biggest difference in this  common denominator is what is within the marketing plan and how committed each firm is to their follow-up strategy.

Adding Social Media to Your Prospecting Platform

Ironstone suggests starting small and simple.  Establish  your social media goal.  Don’t feel you need to take on the world.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogging are all easily managed social media channels  you should be using; START TODAY!   By using social media, you will gain:

  • Name recognition
  • Establish credibility
  • Client acquisition and retention
  • Deepen existing relationships

 Follow Ironstone’s simple guidelines to get started with your social media presence.  By following these basic steps, your social media goals will be easier to reach and more rewarding.

Create Basic Profiles on the Social Media Channels You Wish to EngageYou must realize  social media is an active exchange of information.  In order to establish relationships, you must engage in and actively participate in discussions.

Add Your PhotoUse a professional photo.  If you don’t have a professional photo, make the investment to have one taken.

Be YourselfEngage in social interaction.  Relationships are developed when you allow others to get to know you.  Talk about your family, your interests and things that will interest them. Consider scheduling random posts or blogs about health and wellness or other generalized topics that pique interest levels.

Target MarketPick a small niche.  Remember, you don’t need to take on the world.  Find out where your target/niche market hangs out online.  You might find your COI’s on Linked In while retirees are making posts on Face Book.  Connect with your clients in these various social media channels.

Provide ValueBeing the solution to a prospect is the key to landing new business.  Provide information that will genuinely help others.  Review profiles;  find out the interests of your clients and prospects.  Gather relevant content  you can post and distribute on your social media channels that are devoted to your target market.

Provide A Capture FunnelAdd a form that is short and simple to capture information from readers and those who are downloading your content.  Do not simply ask readers to call you;  they are online and that is where they want to stay for now.  An Ironstone best practice tip is to provide a capture form that leads readers to valuable and relevant information; example:  “The Top 5 Ways To …………..”

Manage TimeDefine your own unique publishing schedule and pick a specific time to post and read updates from those in your network.  Make adjustments as needed,  test different times and days.    If you find  you get more interaction on certain days and times, stick with it.  Maintain a continued presence online, but be cautious of overdoing it!

Follow-Up – It is imperative and courteous that you follow up with those who have accessed your information.  Be ready to provide them with additional information that will be useful to them and offer a solution to their needs.

Ironstone can assist you in developing a social media plan for your firm.  Let us know how you are using social media in your firm!

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Existing Client Workflow – Don’t Just Manage Your Client Experience, Enhance it!

You Must Keep One Thing In The Front Of Your Mind,

“Relationship Building Is A Process”

In our blog about New Client Workflows (https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/workflows-how-they-enable-execution-of-your-business-strategy/), we explore the details that you need to consider while building the strategies to acquire and interact with new clients.  Existing clients need just as much time and attention in order to remain clients.

In general, a client experience is the knowledge and understanding that clients gain as a result of their interaction with your employees, brand, web site, customer applications, office space, point of sale, or any other touch points.  The following factors are the essential ways in which you have control over how good or how great your client experience is:

  1. Define Your Client Experience: This is a series of decisions about which services to automate, which to drive manually, when to schedule reviews, when to prompt client interactions or service reminders, and what information to store.  Establish processes unique to each channel since an in-person experience will differ considerably from an online experience.
  2. Collect Client Details: The ability to effectively extract relevant details about clients is one of the most potent advantages one can have during the sales process.  Our recent blog about Client Management Databases (https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/client-management-databases-use-them-to-your-full-advantage/) describes what information to capture in your CRM.  However, consider going beyond the norm.  Collect information that may be considered trivial or irrelevant (for instance, travel preferences) and use your CRM to process this data and recognize patterns in order to help develop personalized offers.  When meeting with clients and prospects, learn as much as possible through a truly meaningful interview by engaging in conversation that will not only strengthen and enhance your relationship, but allow you to find out how your practice can improve their experience.  Some topics to ask questions about, are:

 

  • Family and Relationships – issues with family members that may impact planning?
  • Lifestyle and Hobbies – What are you most passionate about?  In what ways do you participate?
  • Value and Concern -How do you define quality of life?
  • Career – Are you currently working?  How long do you plan to work?
  • Business Ownership – Describe how selling or retiring from your business will affect you.
  • Assets – What is your strategy for saving or setting aside money to invest?
  • Legacy – What causes/organizations/charities, etc. are you and your family passionate about?
  • Developing a Team – What are your best and worst experiences with an investment advisor or financial planner?
  • Service Expectations – What can our firm do in order to provide you with the ultimate client experience to gain your trust and loyalty?

 

  1. Narrow Your Client Focus: A well planned questionnaire to collect information will help you identify which target market your client/prospect should be cited in for future campaigns.  This will help you create your ideal customer profile and essentially your niche target market, as well as provide the structure you need to define your client segments and service matrix.
  2. Engage Your Team Members:  It is critical that all levels of the team are involved in this process in order to promote clarity and consistency.  Ask your team if they understand what is expected of them.  Review and refine all tasks in order to communicate transparent expectations that can be attained.  Beware of heavy restrictions and rules that might hinder the ability to create positive client outcomes.  Define specific innovation objectives and rewards for improving the customer experience. This will inspire an unrelenting commitment to exceeding client expectations.
  3. Engage Your Clients: Customer engagement materializes in a conversation that leads to a greater level of interest from both parties.  Be the voice of your client and ensure that you are addressing their emotional needs better than your competitor can.  Know your client’s alternatives to make sure you can deliver on the promise of being better.  This leads to the voluntary involvement of the client rather than a sale on the premise of desperation and lack of alternative options. Once you’ve engaged customers with personalized offers, it’s time to entice them.  This means the perfect combination of essential value, amenable feelings, and perfect timing.  Practice showing genuine interest through key points that you have learned, in order to show that you have a valued interest in your client beyond the transaction.  By adding a personal touch to your client conversations now and in the future, you are most likely to make your clients feel important and special.
  4. Measure Your Client Experience: The measurement stage is essential to any process.  It provides new insights on how to improve and provides empowerment as a result of the successes that are revealed. A good evaluation system is first and foremost regular.  It encourages internal feedback as well as elicits feedback from clients to ensure consistency.  It may even be beneficial to test a process with trusted clients before the official launch date.  Collect feedback through surveys, focus groups, visual tracking aids, and offer incentives for volunteering opinions.

Workflows ensure consistency and the delivery of promised value.  The practice can rest, assured that things aren’t falling through the cracks and there are no missed opportunities.  In essence, workflows aid in creating exceptional client experiences, which results in client retention and ultimately client referrals.  While clients can’t always tell you what will exceed their expectations, they notice it when it happens and they tell others about it.

Ironstone can assist you in developing the strategies and tactical questions to gain meaningful insights that will strengthen client relationships and assist you throughout the process.  By seizing control over the factors above, you will move from a buyer/seller relationship to sharing common interests with your clients and prospects.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your Existing Client Workflow.  We want to hear from you!   Share your best ideas here!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

 

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Create Added Value In Your Investment Model

Designing a methodology for managing your client investments is essential for a clear representation of financial performance and aides in effective decision-making.  It is a generally accepted principle that a portfolio is designed according to the investor’s risk tolerance, time frame, and investment objectives.

Create Value Within Your Investment Model

“All good to great companies begin on the path to greatness

 by confronting the brutal facts of their current reality.”

Jim Collins, Good to Great

 Your goal is to create a weighted investment model (one or many) and implement a consistent investment strategy.  Focus on actions that will provide unique added value for your clients.  Position your firm to support the highest value-to-value exchange.

Evaluate your current investment model(s) with a focus on determining if they are creating added value.  Employing a one-to-many investment strategy creates the leverage necessary to optimize your resources and elevate your delivery of services to clients.

Consider the following services (not all inclusive) while evaluating your model(s) and how you will deliver added value for your clients with each service.

  • Risk Tolerance
  • Asset Allocation
  • Manager Research
  • Portfolio Monitoring
  • Rebalancing
  • Performance Reporting

While you are ultimately responsible for due diligence and oversight of your clients’ assets, you may want to consider outsourcing services that are invisible to your clients such as manager research, monitoring, portfolio construction, performance reporting and re-balancing to a third party who specializes in these services.  Other obvious outsourcing options or strategic alliances, such as CPAS, attorneys, and insurance agents will provide you the weight to focus on your firm’s unique added value and help clients with the steps they need to take.

Communication With Clients

Look at your value proposition through the eyes of your clients and prospects.  You must be able to answer the question, “Why should a client invest their money with you, versus allocating their funds in some other way?”

When implemented effectively, your investment model should be viewed by your clients as a proactive model with enhanced services and communication.  Implementation will require that you have direct systems and procedures in place to provide each service.

Advisors are required to make full and fair disclosures about fees.  Consider the appropriate fee level for your services and investment model.  You may want to implement a tiered fee structure that differentiates the service levels within your client segmentation process.

Your investment model(s) will allow you to sharpen your focus on the unique needs of each of your clients. Understanding that each of your clients has unique needs will ensure efficient client service delivery.

Ironstone can assist you in developing appropriate investment models and collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel to achieving the strategic goals of your firm.

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Business Development-Client Appreciation


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Understanding Purposeful Meaning In Your Client Service Matrix

A service matrix is an established unique resource in the financial industry. It provides you with a comparative analysis of your service offerings and differentiates you from your competitors.

Creating a service matrix will help you identify the level of service your clients will receive when they work with your firm. By clearly defining and evaluating your services, you will have the ability to provide value to your clients and the level of service they desire. Build your service matrix to gain strategic insight into the unique needs of each of your client groups and continuously modify it as a part of your firms client engagement strategy.

A client service matrix serves several purposes:
• Encourages clients & prospects to use your firm for all of their financial planning needs
• Clarifies what service levels each client can expect
• Aligns advisor time and resources
• Provides a way to thank your most loyal clients

When creating or evaluating your client service matrix consider surveying your current clients to determine what services they would like. High net worth clients will be attracted to your firm as you provide more personal attention. Create a list of the services you currently provide and a separate list of the services that you would like to provide. Determine which clients will receive each of your services.

Two levers that you can control in your service matrix are service level and sales effort.
Service Level: determine the appropriate level of service to provide to the different levels in your client segmentation plan. (read our blog on Client Segmentation-insert link here)
Sales Effort: control the level of effort that you will put towards client retention, gaining referrals, adding new services and promoting new products by pursuing the right opportunities with aligned client segments. This will provide increased revenue for your firm.

In order to maximize on your services, focus on what you do best. Providing high-quality personal service to your clients and prospects is more important than providing many mediocre services.

As you create and evaluate your service matrix, assess each process in relation to attractiveness (is it what clients want?) and is it providing your client with value. Evaluate processes that can be eliminated and identify which processes align with your mission statement. Your services should have few competitive alternatives and your firm’s offerings should be very strong.

Your client service matrix will allow you to hone in on the unique needs of each of your clients. Understanding that each of your clients has unique needs will ensure efficient client service delivery.

“In business, words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises, but only performance is reality.” Harold Geneen

Ironstone can assist you in developing a client/prospect service matrix. We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel in achieving the results your desire.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your Service Matrix. We want to hear from you! Share your best ideas here! What services do you provide that are unique from your competitors? We always love hearing from you!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!
• Strategic Planning
• Business Development
• Operational Effectiveness
• The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series: The Human Element-Hiring & Onboarding
• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Follow us on twitter @ https://twitter.com/#!/AndreaSchlapia
• Join us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IronstoneCommunications
• Connect with us on LinkedIn @ http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=29647364&trk=tab_pro


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Take The First Step Towards Greater Efficiency With Client Segmentation

 Client segmentation should be one of your first steps towards creating greater practice efficiency and profitability.   Yet we have found that advisors are skeptical about client segmentation due to the fear of losing clients.  Firms that have implemented client segmentation have found that segmentation aids in the retention of your ideal clients.

Client segmentation is about improving customer service for all of your clients.  Use it to deliver solutions more effectively by streamlining and automating the services you offer.  Aligning the right level of advisor support to the client’s specific needs results in increased client satisfaction and in turn may even result in more client referrals.

Start your segmentation process by defining client value.  Viewing each group with different needs and priorities will present you with the ability to serve each segment based upon their needs, not the firm’s profits. Advisors often discover that they can expand some client segments, when they know specifically what costs they will need to put against projected revenues.

Begin your segmentation process by following these steps:

  •     Define client value – Identify the drivers of value in your client relationship
  •     Quantify client value – Create a rating system to gauge each client
  •     Test your system
  •     Define Segments
  •     Track segmentation data
  •     Define & Update Processes

A firm’s defined segments may look something like this:

  •  A+=top 2% of your client database
  •  A=next 18%
  •  B=next 10%
  •  C=next 50%
  •  D=next 20%

To make segmentation truly effective, determine the type of services and frequency to promote clear communication to clients and prospects.

Trying to provide the same high level of service to everyone can make it difficult to focus on the more complex clients and on the inevitable changes that come with growth and business development.

Ironstone can assist you in developing a client segmentation plan,   identify gaps in your existing plan and collaborate with you to develop a solution to achieve the results you are looking for.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your client segmentation plan.  View our Segmentation Guide!  SegmentationGuide

We want to hear from you!   Share your best ideas here, we always love hearing from you!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  The Human Element-Hiring & Onboarding