Fact: If your clients aren’t happy with you, they won’t stay. Today, a big part of that client
satisfaction is your technology and if
and how clients use it.
Therefore client feedback is important but could be a false-positive. Your
clients may tell you that everything is
great with the technology, but they may
have no idea what “great” technology
Or worse, there’s no client feedback
regarding your technology, and you
wrongly interpret this as a positive.
Then, when a fire drill happens you are
surprised your clients are not as happy
as you thought. That’s when you realize
you haven’t delivered on your clients’
needs from a digital perspective.
What can you do to avoid this
Advisors can fall into client tech-
TAPPING INTO CLIENT NEEDS
nology “satisfaction” traps. Consider
this statement: “My clients don’t really
need or ask for specific technology
solutions from my firm.” Do you really
think clients would agree? This per-
spective essentially lowers the bar in
the advisor’s eyes about what they need
to offer as part of their client-facing
technology. When you do a deeper dive
on this perspective, you often find that
this client feedback was purely coin-
cidental, from too small of a sample of
clients, or even “outdated.”
The reality is most advisors haven’t
done sufficient work to understand their
clients’ needs and expectations of the
firm’s technology, especially as opinions
can change over time. Therefore, be criti-
cal about whether or not you really know
this information. Obviously, anecdotal
type client feedback is helpful, but make
sure it is not the primary driver for set-
ting goals for your technology offerings.
To get a handle on client needs, begin by
studying their “usage” levels and how
they interact with your firm from a digital perspective. From financial planning
programs and risk analysis to performance reporting and your custodian’s
platform, the client engagement levels
with these different systems likely are
You can find this information through
various reports and activity trends. Then
ask groups of clients who are “outliners”
on both ends of the spectrum — those
with minimal activity and the “power
users” — about their technology needs.
Understanding the details of your clients’ technology usage and the reason
why a particular client is at one end of
the spectrum or the other is valuable as
you strive to achieve your firm’s technology goals. And goals for each specific
type of client might differ.
Also, consider how this client input
might be similar or different compared
with your firm’s prospective clients. I’ve
heard advisors talk about “targeting”
a specific prospect type or group, but
the advisor has a limited knowledge of
its technology expectations. You need
to understand the importance of this
information for ultimately converting a
prospect to a client.
Start by reviewing your firm’s technology and compare it with the experience that is currently available to the
target prospects for your firm. As you
consider client feedback and whether
it is helping or hurting your technology goals, remember the influence that
your firm has in the equation. There are
numerous factors and styles of approach
that can directly impact the amount of
client feedback received. For example,
is providing a digital experience part of
your firm’s DNA, and therefore do your
clients share feedback because they
know you want to hear it? Or is it a different scenario, such as your clients are
hesitant for a variety of reasons to share
feedback — perhaps because you never
asked for it?
Finally, have you done enough to train
and support your clients? Some systems are intuitive by design and you
would expect clients to “get it” quickly.
However, there are other systems that
might have a higher learning curve. Your
clients’ “learning style” can have a big
impact, too. Therefore, remember the
influence of these variables as you interpret your client feedback.
Dan Skiles is the president of Shareholders
Service Group in San Diego. He can be
reached at email@example.com.
THE TECHNOLOGY COACH
By Dan Skiles
Client Feedback Is Essential for Hitting
Don’t assume you know how clients use, or even like, your technology.
Instead, ask them and adapt.