Applying Customer Knowledge to Enhance Relationships

Stu Perlmeter

Lessons from Wealth Management Firms

This week’s blog is written by a guest writer, Michelle Lapierre.  Michelle’s areas of expertise include customer acquisition/retention and CX strategy.  As one of our Senior Analysts, Michelle is focusing on Customer Insights for 1st Resource.  Hope you enjoy this post

Loyalty is an emotion, nearly always described as a feeling – of confidence, of trust, of protecting one’s vulnerability, of being ‘somebody’ – a part of the inner circle.  Throughout countless conversations, surveys, interviews and general interaction with members of loyalty programs, I can state without hesitation that the #1 driver of loyalty has been “they know me”. 

There is much that you know about your clients, from past market research to anecdotal information gathered over the years.  Some hold this valuable information in their heads while others use platforms and dashboards to reveal business intelligence.  Regardless of the method you choose, challenge yourself – are you effectively leveraging what you know about your clients to build and strengthen your high value client relationships?  What are you doing to create an environment where everyone in your firm shares the client relationship and knows how to adapt their behaviors to the preferences of the client?

Business Intelligence lies beyond, between and within the data

Without insight, data points are just numbers.  Think about your client holistically, their position in your client journey, and their humanness. It will energize your relationships in meaningful ways!

  • I was once a client with a Big Financial Services Company – one who has been lauded for their customer relationship success.  During what I assume was a campaign to drive greater relationships with their female clients, I received an invitation to an event that would showcase a financial speaker and a ‘special treat’ of hearing from a personal shopper with a medium-tier department store.  Now – they know I was in their wealth management program, an indication of what tier I likely shopped in.  And, they knew that I was a successful professional with advanced academic degrees; they could have surmised I probably already figured out how to dress myself.  Finally, (you’ll have to take my word on this one) to meet me is to know that I am strong and direct; not easily swayed by false sentiment. 

Your clients give you loads of personal information – use it responsibly.  A one-size-fits-all approach to building relationships may not be the right strategy.

Issue resolution is paramount

Listen to customer feedback and implement change.   Demonstrate that you have heard what has been said and empower everyone in the firm to drive for a resolution.  Close the feedback loop; be transparent about how the firm intends to keep these types of experiences from happening again.  Above all – actively work to save the high-value relationship.

  • I reached out to Big Company to share my concern, and even chatted with their SVP of Customer Experience on LinkedIn.  Not until I reached the SVP did anyone show empathy or an understanding that their tactics did not create their desired outcome.   Unfortunately, there was no follow-up or any effort to repair or save the relationship. 

Leaving an issue unresolved is never a good idea.  Even if you can’t provide a solution, acknowledge the issue and take the moment to remind them that your focus is on their success.

Make it personal

Don’t squander an opportunity to truly connect with your client – show them that you know them in ways that are relevant to their experiences.  Think of what you can do to go above and beyond client expectations and resist the urge to just ready-fire-aim. Acknowledge a family event (e.g., child’s graduation, upcoming vacation adventure, sympathy, etc.), welcome the season change with an uplifting message, compose a hand-written note telling them they have crossed your mind.

  • Last year I received a Mother’s Day card from my financial advisor, signed by the entire firm.  Do they really think I believe they care about me being a mother?  Nope.  One could argue that it’s a personalized and targeted action – in that only those female clients who are known to have reproduced probably received that specific communication.  Faux intimacy is not what we want from a trusted partner. 

Leverage what you know about your clients to create memorable moments.  It will differentiate you from your competitors in ways that are not easily duplicated.

Build loyalty at every level

Ensure your firm is not creating key dependencies – loyalty to one person vs. loyalty to the organization.  Focus on the drivers of loyalty throughout all touch points and all stops along the client journey. 

  • Just yesterday, I contacted my firm to check on a few details.  Happily, the associate – who is not my personal advisor – called me by name and took care of my request. It showed me that my importance to the firm goes beyond my advisor – they demonstrated that I am important to the firm as a whole and obviously share their insights about their clients throughout the team.  It felt great to know that I’m part of the tribe and not at risk of having only one person who thinks I’m special.

Make sure everyone on your team takes responsibility for client loyalty.

Your high value clients want to know that you appreciate them and will not take their loyalty for granted.  Devote time to understanding your client’s loyalty drivers – their risks and opportunities – and act on the insights, not just the data points.

Customer insights is where we live. Let us know how we can help.

About the Author

Stu Perlmeter

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Stu brings 30 years of marketing and research experience to 1st Resource, which he founded in 1996. Stu’s primary expertise is in understanding the market insights that tie to success formulas for companies seeking to grow their business in strategic ways.