The need for a range of channels that meet our needs is now not just desirable, but also essential and expected. Sitting alongside humans in the delivery of good client outcomes and efficiency, an effective digital strategy is a necessary and expected part of any service proposition.

At Iress, we’ve increasingly noticed adviser firms are seeking greater levels of automation and customer focus in their technology solutions as they look to deliver a differentiated digital client experience. The thinking has moved beyond functionality to designing interactions and experiences that delight and engage customers so that the client experience can be improved through every service channel.

An effective digital strategy is a necessary and expected part of any service proposition.

For any firm at the crossroads of making a decision on how best to embrace digital, there is no one size fits all approach. Aligning your digital strategy to your overall business proposition is key. There are however, a few key points you may want to consider.

Client satisfaction in a digital age

Something we often hear is that all interaction should always be personal and automation removes that personalisation. But a question worth asking is when does personalisation really add value? We can divide client communication into two distinct types. Firstly, routine communication such as a notification or a confirmation to keep clients updated and engaged in the process. This could be easily managed digitally.

Then there’s the personal communication that sits outside of the business process. This could be a call to check that a client’s experience has met (or exceeded) their expectations and where necessary, exploring any areas where it has not - usually this will almost certainly, result in happier, more engaged clients. It could equally be an opportunity to discuss other relevant services or to explain things clients want to know but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to ask.

If we think about how we choose to engage and what meets our own requirements, the answer is usually a combination of digital and human interaction. Enabling your clients to interact with you via different channels delivers a more personalised service, both in meeting their communication preferences and in allowing you to focus your time on delivering a tailored service when it matters.

Managing multi-channel communications 

This is where having all your data connected and held in one single source is key to helping manage all the channels of communication at your disposal. When data is properly connected through technology, there is only ever one version of the truth. Connected data drives efficiencies, reduces manual rekeying errors and makes the process of tailoring advice recommendations far easier and effective. It also enables advice firms to present up to date information back to their clients through a client portal - and you have the comfort of knowing the data your clients have access to, is exactly the same data you hold in your system.

Having all your data connected and held in one single source is key to helping manage all the channels of communication.

First impressions count and delivering your proposition consistently across all channels is vital. You, therefore, want to ensure that your client portal can be tailored to fit your brand. Xplan’s client portal offers a range of templated web designs, meaning that small and large businesses alike can easily align their portal to their brand.

When personal matters

Now, let’s look at where communications can be automated and where you will want to spend time delivering personal service.

Firstly, let’s look at the prospecting stage of the client lifecycle. Say you receive an enquiry via your website - the first thing you want the client to receive is an immediate confirmation that the enquiry has been received and you’ll be in touch shortly. This can be automated and also auto-generate a task to a specific user or team within your business to follow up with a personal call, where you start to build a picture of the client’s requirements and preferences. This call results in a meeting being set up with an adviser - step-in ‘routine and automated’ communication with a confirmation instantly sent to the client with the details so they can quickly add it to their calendar.

The next stage might be fact find information gathering ahead of an initial meeting. This is where the Xplan secure messages and documents functionality really comes into its own. With Iress’ connected technology, you can provide client portal access at this stage and ask your new client to add relevant paperwork and important details, safely and securely, prior to a meeting.

With Iress’ client portal access, your new client can add relevant paperwork and important details, safely and securely.

As you take the client on that pathway to advice, you can continue to engage them by keeping them up to date through every step of the journey. You can use visual tools such as cashflow modelling to really bring the process to life. If you're presenting to clients via video call using the integrated tool in Xplan, you can record the conversation and save it against the client record in Xplan and, if required, easily share it securely with the client through the client portal.

Producing documents for the client to review after your session can also be useful. Reports from the visual tools (such as Xtools Cashflow or Retirement Funding Calculator) can be produced within the session and again, saved to the portal automatically so the client can review them outside of the meeting.

You might go through the advice documents with the client on a tablet or a protected laptop but once presented, you can quickly amend the permissions of the document in Xplan so it’s immediately available in the client portal. To complete the process, you can enable digital signatures, providing the ability for your client to sign and return documents electronically.

The journey continues

Multi-channel client engagement can continue as you progress and build your relationship with the client.

You can choose to extend client portal access as your relationship with the client deepens, including online valuations - as a snapshot or full portfolio breakdown. This enables the client to see all of their holdings in one place and provides them with their financial picture ‘on the go’. Xplan’s client portal can include both managed and non-managed holdings providing a client with their net worth at the touch of a button. If the client has any questions about holdings or seeks further advice, they can use the Secure Messaging system to engage with their adviser. This could be from the comfort of their home on a laptop or from a mobile device if they are out and about and simply want to fire off a quick question.

Multi-channel client engagement can continue as you progress and build your relationship with the client.

Technology is inextricably woven throughout our lives and we tend to notice its absence rather than its presence. It is essential now that touch points are digital, human and a mix of both. The financial services industry is already and must continue to evolve and adapt to this reality - and the technology and opportunity are there for the taking.

How can we help?

Are you getting all of this from your advice technology? Get in touch with us for a review.