A Lesson from Starbucks: How to Create an Ideal Client Experience for Financial Advisors
There are no traffic jams along the extra mile. – Roger Staubach
If clients can get the same services from anyone, why are they going to choose to do business with you instead of another advisor down the street? The answer is, you must offer clients an experience they are not getting from anyone else.
Let’s take Starbucks for example. The coffee giant must be doing something right, considering that since 1987, they have added an average of two stores a day. How does a coffee franchise become that successful when you can get coffee practically anywhere and sometimes at a fraction of the cost?
The answer is simple, well planned and calculated customer service. Starbucks employees receive extensive training, so there is little margin for error. They also know you by name and memorize your order. The Starbucks app adds to the customer-centric experience by storing your purchases so the barista can ask if you would like to add the usual bagel to your order. Despite being a franchise, Starbucks listens to their customers and connects with them in every way they can, sometimes even creating drinks based on customer recommendation.
Starbucks does not compete on price. They have learned a valuable secret: when you create a pleasant experience that people want to enjoy again, you don’t have to try to compete in every area. Here are a few tips you can implement from Starbucks’ business practices:
Tier Services and Segment Your Clients
Don’t exhaust yourself by trying to be all things to all people. After all, are you really trying to make just anyone your client? Of course not, because one ‘A’ level client is worth 10 ‘C’ level clients. Be a few things to a few people. Twenty percent of Starbucks’ customers visit the store sixteen times per month! You’ll notice they do not do many specials to attract new customers, but instead target specials towards people who are already loyal to them. Segmenting allows you to do two things: make the most of time spent with your best clients and focus on your niche market.
Deliver what you promised. In my many trips to Starbucks, I cannot recall ever seeing a customer return their order unsatisfied. The extensive training of their baristas means when a product is ordered, the barista knows exactly what to deliver. The only real way to do this is to sit down and create protocol for every typical scenario your employees encounter. Don’t leave your employees to wonder and flounder on how to handle certain situations. When a client calls the office and is concerned about how the investments in their portfolio are performing, there should be a protocol. When a client calls, eager to open a new investment account right away but you are booked solid with meetings for three weeks, there should be a protocol. Being seen as reliable, trustworthy and dependable is built on consistency. You can achieve this by making your protocol thorough, empowering your employees through training and ensuring clients receive the same great service over and over again.
Offer a Superior Product
If Starbucks coffee wasn’t any good, it simply would not sell. So while customer experience is incredibly important, you must first have a quality product. I know what you may be thinking. How is my product as a financial advisor any different from other advisor’s? The secret is that it is personalized to each client. There may be no worse product than cookie cutter financial services. If you are not remembering the important details of your clients’ lives – their hopes, dreams and goals – you are failing to provide them with a superior product designed to meet their needs.
Give Clients an Experience They Want to Share
Starbucks creates a pleasant atmosphere by carefully selecting things like music, seating arrangements and decorations. When someone enjoys this experience, they return with a friend.
Do something memorable for your clients that they would not expect. It may be something unique about your waiting area, like having entertainment not typically found in an office setting, fresh cookies or their favorite drink on hand. Your office should have a unique atmosphere so that clients look forward to their time with you and in turn, refer you to their friends.
Creating an experience does not have to be complicated. When you have the right people on your team with the same vision for your company, clear steps on how to treat clients, and a winning product, your book of business will grow steadily. Clients will also eagerly recommend the experience of working with you to others.