Practice Makeover: Season 2
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Episode 4: Three ways to improve clients’ experiences
Jun 29, 2014 @ 12:00 am
Adviser coach Matt Halloran works out a three-pronged approach to improving client segmentation, onboarding and service with makeover recipient Ken Podell.
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Industry experts and executives offer strategies, tips and ideas on how practices can improve their business.
Vice President of National Accounts, FocusPoint Solutions
At the beginning of this episode, Matt outlined the three initial steps his advisor coaching firm has put together for Ken: 1) Dig into his database in the most practical, hopefully least overwhelming manner.which ideally should lead him to be able to 2) Identify cross-selling opportunities with current clients, and 3) Establish a clear, repeatable, sustainable client onboarding process.
I think anyone who has watched this season would agree with all three of Matt's recommendations — including Ken. However, Ken's natural reaction to Matt's suggestion that he create an executable onboarding process appears to be a bit apprehensive (understandably so, given the current state of his practice, chiefly its lack of systemization). Such a process would involve giving clients specific details and setting expectations with them regarding follow up from Ken and his team. Over the years, Ken has built his client base from the ground floor — his clients very likely continue to work with him because of the excellent relationships he's established with them. It makes sense, then, that Ken would have qualms about making promises to these valued long-term clients that he may run the risk of not being able to keep.
While this season's discussions thus far with Matt and April have been somewhat in terms of specific action items, I'm sure that as Ken watches the plans they have put together for him start to come to life, his concerns about setting expectations with clients, only to under-deliver on them, will be greatly diminished. Once Ken starts to create and maintain sustainable systems within his business, he will feel comfortable being clear with clients about what they can and should expect from him across the board. He will work with Matt and April to define systems and client promises that involve a feasible and reasonable workload on his part.
The most challenging part about taking your business to the next level by implementing significant changes is the initial planning and execution. I have a feeling that six months to a year from now, Ken will look back on these first interviews about transforming his practice into a business and be amazed at the significant progress he's made, simply by putting some basic business procedures and a solid marketing plan in place.
Founder and CEO of ClientWise LLC
Matt has some great suggestions for Ken. Starting with something as simple as analyzing his database could kick off some important next steps with regard to client segmentation and processes around client onboarding and client experience, but these aren't the immediate next steps I would take in this situation.
Ken has been very clear in his desire is to remain in front of clients, and this is where he should be. His phone calls and emails have been relationship-driven (rather than content-driven) for a reason, which has allowed him to maintain successful relationships with clients even without the processes that Matt's suggested he put in place. To have Ken back off from this strategy in favor of doing more marketing-based work would be damaging to his existing client relationships, and to his business. Ken needs to figure out how to scale up these efforts without detracting from what's currently working. He's managing enough as it is.
I would suggest that both Matt and Ken consider how these additional processes might require the time and attention of other potential team members. It's time tap into Ken's ability as a leader, a role that will allow him to use his relationship skills to manage team members, as well as connect with his clients. He is clearly at a point where he should be involving a team, as these early stages provide the ideal opportunity to begin developing common-purpose in working together toward a collective vision for his future business.
Senior Consultant, TD Ameritrade Institutional Practice Management
Matt shared some great insights with Ken regarding areas of improvement for his business, including Ken's client onboarding model, service model, cross-selling opportunities, CRM management, prospect management, client segmentation and managing the overall client experience. These are all solid areas to focus on, but I question how realistic is it that Ken can tackle all of these things in a sustainable way?
One key area not discussed was the team that supports Ken in his business. I would be curious to know who his current team members are, and who Ken will specifically assign to run these areas. Ken will need some sort of a system to assign these tasks or he may potentially need to hire additional employees to manage these new areas of focus for him. Ken has been successful in the past and adjusting his focus to these new priorities may be challenging to balance with his current work load. Building on Ken's success with his top 100 clients may be a good starting point to implement his new client service model and may yield some low hanging fruit with cross-selling opportunities.
From a coaching perspective, I was looking to see how closely Ken's priorities were aligned with Matt's suggestions. Ken expressed his concerns about continuing these new activities "without involving a tremendous amount of time from me." That would lead me to question whether Ken is really willing to commit to the necessary follow-up in order to produce sustainable results within his business. I would be curious to know how much time Ken would be willing to commit and what his concerns would be regarding giving these items more time in the future. Ken clearly stated during the discussion that his number one goal is to be in front of his clients, not managing these strategies, so who's going to be responsible for doing all of this work?
I'm sure a lot of these details are being discussed during Matt and April's detailed work with Ken, and I am curious to see what solutions they come up with to assist Ken in supporting these new action steps. The way in which Matt will look for small steps to provide encouragement for Ken in his business is a good tactic for consultants, I am very interested to see where Matt looks to highlight these small victories as Ken implements these new strategies.
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