I recently read a great article from the states which likens a well systemised and streamlined business advisory firm to a Starbucks coffee house. They made some great points that apply to our own businesses.
Industry research in the US revealed the vast majority of independent advisory firms have not invested in developing the necessary core systems, workflows and infrastructure needed to efficiently provide a consistent level of service and optimal working environment for firm principals and their staff. As a result, advisers are suffering capacity constraints exactly at the same time that macro forces, such as baby-boomer retirement, are driving a growth curve their way. The solution to this problem is to create and adopt systematised workflows which define and organise a service pathway for consistently delivering a high-level of service, similar to how service industry leaders, such as Starbucks Coffee Company have done. Through the creation and automation of client service workflows, advisory firms can:
- Build an efficient foundation that will enable them to scale their businesses for growth
- Work more proactively rather than reactively
- Do more for clients without working harder
- No longer be dependent on a key employee, who if that employee left would leave the firm in a difficult situation
- Build compliance steps into the workflow so they are completed correctly each and every time
The solution to this is to create and adopt systematised workflows which define and organise a service pathway.
Using Technology to Personalise the Client Service Experience
The challenge for many firms that is preventing them from documenting and systemising their daily tasks into workflows is they typically don’t know where to start or feel that they are already at capacity and don’t have the time or expertise. However, when breaking the project down into smaller, manageable steps, advisors can begin the process of creating client service workflows, leverage CRM technology to and adopt the best practices advice of industry consultants and experts that can prevent a firm from having to start from scratch.
Most industry experts agree that the secret lies in standardising and systemising operations to create a consistent, proactive and outstanding client service experience― what many in the service industry call “The Starbucks Experience”, as discussed in the book by the same name written by Joseph Michelli. Everything that customers experience at a Starbucks coffee shop from the moment they walk through the front door is well thought through and meticulously planned, from how the shop is physically set up, the décor on the walls, what music is playing, the shape and feel of the paper cup in your hand to how the baristas prepare your drink facing the door, so their backs aren’t turned to their customers. Thus, while Starbucks customers are really just accessing a retail outlet to acquire a cup of coffee or tea, Starbucks has turned that process into a consistent, feel good experience they can charge a premium for (even though the coffee is debatably not the best going around). Furthermore, that experience leads to strong customer loyalty. When you drill down to look at how Starbucks has accomplished that, you will find at the heart of that service experience is a detailed set of workflows and checklists that are consistently executed upon. Independent advisory firms can achieve the same efficiencies and client loyalties by examining the various critical daily tasks they perform in their firm based on their client service model, and then transform them into documented, systemised processes to consistently deliver their client service pathways, as well as minimise the steps that must be performed by a human by using technology capabilities to add workflow automation. By doing so, firms can eliminate gaps in service delivery, ensure that things don’t fall through the cracks, compliance steps can be built in, problems can be averted and an efficient infrastructure can be created, enabling staff to work proactively, not reactively and focus on higher value tasks and client interactions.