Tom Gooley is Chief Operations Officer at Cetera where he brings together teams that deliver exceptional experiences that drive growth.
In the independent financial advice space, relationships come first. Oddly enough, many business-to-business companies are reluctant to measure customer experience with the same laser precision you’d expect from customer experience leaders.
Advertising mogul David Ogilvy said foresight, “The problem with market research is that people don’t think what they feel, they don’t say what they think, and they don’t do what they say.”
He was on the spot. When my company decided to adopt a rigorous Voice of the Customer (VoC) program, I experienced the Ogilvy phenomenon firsthand with our 12,000+ financial professionals. Especially “don’t do what they say.”
• They told us they wanted hyper-personalization, but what they really want is for us to just provide the service. Standardization actually makes everything easier.
• They said they would rather call. But what they were really saying was that they didn’t rely on getting the job done quickly and correctly.
• They said they wanted one form instead of several separate forms to complete a task. But what they really wanted was to eliminate all forms.
NPS powers a successful VoC.
Ogilvy died in 1999, two years before the birth of the Net Promoter System. This essential tool delivers methodologies that enable us to be and remain focused on the quality of our customer and employee relationships. The data provides a clearer picture of what our customers, employees and the market really feel, think and do. When we synthesize feelings, thoughts and actions, we can transform the service experience.
VoC is not just data. It’s a way of life. It is a discipline that fosters a culture of learning and acting on the basis of feedback. It is a spirit of leadership focused on continuous improvement. A complete VoC program creates an ethos of service and simplicity and requires dedication and patience to mature and become established in the organization over time.
The net promoter score (NPS) is the arrow that points us to the buried treasure. We can then discover solutions with further analysis that drive our company-wide action planning, prioritizing our investments and efforts.
Many companies stop at customer surveys. However, a comprehensive system includes a transaction dimension. The annual relationship and employee surveys measure overall satisfaction and provide insight into the drivers. Competitive NPS is a blind benchmark survey that compares your company to industry averages. Transactional NPS (T-NPS) surveys help us understand what is happening at key interaction points. They are automatically sent at the time of service and provide real-time results to a dashboard, allowing us to make quick adjustments.
For example, feedback from T-NPS indicates a recurring complaint. We look at all possible sources of friction: is it technology, process or team readiness? Next, we’ll see where items get stuck and remove the reasons why they’re getting stuck. This discipline—asking in multiple ways, discerning whether the feedback has legs, digging to find the cause, identifying friction points, and eliminating the causes—is a continuous, virtuous loop. Once it’s started, the energy it generates keeps it moving.
I recommend a three-stage approach.
1. Run automated surveys on critical touchpoints, benchmarks, key growth drivers and lifecycle milestones.
2. Expand analytics, reporting, action planning, and stakeholder sharing.
3. Integrate initiatives and strategies associated with scorecards, projects, budgets and culture.
Moving into the “embedding phase” with my company, we get to the good part: what we discovered.
• At the core, our customers just want it to be easy to do business with us: every system, every process, every team member, every moment.
• We have established a closed callback process to reach out to customers who have left feedback, questions or praise.
• We’ve digitized the service journey, provided more self-help tools, and made more than 200 improvements, with dozens more to come.
Exceptional experiences. Every time. Together.
Your team members are the heart and soul of your service. Your program isn’t complete without a focus on recruitment, development and career paths to ensure you have an engaged team.
Previously, our service teams were the first point of contact for almost everything our financial professionals ask for in their day-to-day work. We found that the information they needed to do their jobs was hidden or overwhelming.
Now our service professionals have in-depth knowledge of a finite range of topics and the answers are easily accessible. A recalibrated phone system directs callers to the right person, allowing our team members to focus on their areas of passion. We measure their happiness and experience as forcefully as our customers. They are happier and stronger by being part of the solution.
And now we can show them a live snapshot of exactly how we’re performing. Right now, looking at over 12,000 interactions, we get 4.75 out of 5 stars. That definitely takes the sting out of an angry call!
How do you know it works?
I recently spoke with Matt Costanzo, an affiliate consultant to my company whose feedback has been instrumental in several improvements to my business over the years. His insights helped create a proposal generation tool, a more intuitive portal for advisors’ clients, and a streamlined asset conversion process. He said the time saved and the value of the opportunity to contribute are incalculable.
I was most moved when Matt said “I can’t think of any other place I can actually see” mine feedback transforms the service I receive.” This is high praise from Matt, whose company lives by its motto, “You are only as good as what you did for your customers yesterday.”
Listening to customers and delivering excellent service is a mindset of growth, responsibility, inclusiveness, empathy and empowerment. You must nurture these qualities in yourself and in your team to turn your service model into the experience your customers deserve.