Posted by Beverly Landais, marketing & business development director at Legal Futures Associate Saunderson House, and business coach
What does it take to shape a high-quality client experience? How do you encourage effective and long-term client/adviser relationships? What is the role of the marketing department in achieving this?
These are the questions that every professional services marketer should contemplate with a view to taking personal action. For me, nothing can be more important than truly understanding the activities and actions that can deliver a more satisfied client.
It is as simple as this. In a highly competitive and complex business environment with all the uncertainties of the world’s markets, the firm that puts shaping a stand-out client experience at the heart of its business will be more successful in every way than those that do not. Such firms will attract and retain the best talent, win the most professionally satisfying as well as profitable work, and be recognised by clients as true partners to their business success.
What of the role of marketing in all of this? I firmly believe that marketers have a responsibility to be the voice of the client inside an organisation. I’d go further and say that this is the primary role of strategic marketing.
We’ve heard for years that clients look for more than technical excellence in their professional advisers. We know that commerciality, team work, strategic insight and the ability to see the world through the client’s eyes is paramount. But how exactly do you achieve this? For many it is an elusive goal.
First off, marketers need to question their own assumptions and test the validity of long-held views about the nature of client’s needs and wants. When focusing on delivering what is urgently required every day, it is hard to challenge yourself and others as to what might be done differently or better to improve the client experience. Yet I believe that this is the only way forward if the intention is to truly innovate and create change that is of real benefit to clients.
What better way to start than by carving out time to think? Forget the meticulously planned and long awaited ‘away day’; how about a ‘stay day’ with a couple of hours in a quiet room on-site with colleagues who are willing to participate in a team coaching session around the goal of shaping client experience. Gather facts and figures. Seek out client feedback to add to the mix. Check out recent relevant external reports for sure, but don’t put this off while seeking perfect information. Make this your next urgent deliverable.
Step back and step up to the hard task of contemplating what you learn and think hard about what it means for your organisation. Pose to each person the question: What is the one thing could you do as a result of what you learn that can move your firm closer to being truly client centric? Perhaps even more importantly, ‘What can you personally do to get this firmly on the agenda of senior management?’
Keep going until the ideas dry up and then ask, ‘What else?’. It is amazing how this simple yet powerful coaching question can energise people into being bolder and more innovative in their thinking. At the end of the session, sweep up the ideas to evaluate and get stuck into the action planning.
Seldom do we have the opportunity to step back from the maelstrom of everyday working life to consider the strategic issues from a client perspective. And yet how else can marketers become more valuable to their firms if not by listening, interpreting and translating the client’s voice and while pushing forward practical initiatives that will advance the strategic agenda of a well-managed firm.