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Tips for keeping your CX compelling and competitive

Clients are the heartbeat of any business, so understanding and responding to changes in their behaviours and expectations are critical to growth, retention and longevity. This is at the core of a strong customer experience (CX) framework, and there are tried-and-tested ways to help keep yours ahead of the curve.

Clients have long been evolving their benchmark expectations of working with financial advisers. Whether you’ve been an adviser for decades, years or even months – you would have seen demands change and grow, with clients (rightly) in the driver’s seat.

This forms part of a global shift among consumers, who are increasingly driven by purpose, trust and ease as much as they are by financial and business outcomes.1 Amazon, the global powerhouse which has its “customer obsession” as a centrepiece to its mission statement and business strategy, accepts change as a core part of CX.

“Customers are always wonderfully dissatisfied, and by that I mean their expectations are always changing,” said Toni Knowlson, Digital Innovation Lead at Amazon Web Services.

“Whenever they have an experience in their life, that raises the bar of what their expectation is. And so, really, we’re in the business of change.”

The financial advice sector is well-positioned to understand and capitalise on heightened CX demands, and as a collective, advisers are already well versed in their clients’ needs and personalities. At the individual firm level, a robust CX strategy can help you capitalise on a consumer market that increasingly values the long-held strengths of financial advisers: trust, relationships, and delivery.

Find your bullseye

One critical step in developing an effective CX strategy is defining your target clients. This might seem like a basic pointer, but it’s one that can be overlooked in the throes of establishing, growing and running a business.

Defining your ideal target clients is not a set-and-forget move, it’s a live issue for the life of your business. Markets change, conditions change, businesses change – your target clients may evolve too, and how can you meet their needs if you don’t consistently have a firm understanding of who they are?

Establishing, and periodically evaluating, the persona of your target client can help you understand their needs and expectations, and ensure those are being met at every touchpoint.

So how can a firm build a persona of their target client?

“Think of your favourite client, one you’d want 10 more of to walk through the door,” said Sherise Mercer, Head of Macquarie’s Virtual Adviser Network (VAN). “That’s who you should be targeting.”

“Then, imagine you are sitting around a campfire, under the night sky, with this ideal client and they are telling you their life story. What truly matters to them? What are their ambitions, their dreams?”

Exercises like this can help you form a deep, empathy-driven understanding of who your target client is – which is an essential and powerful tool for tailoring your CX towards the right bullseye.

Keep your clients’ needs in check

When you’re dealing with clients on a day-to-day basis, it can be easy to assume – understandably – that you have a sixth sense for what they need from your services. Your experience and instinct are important, but they don’t form the basis of a scalable and future-proofed CX strategy.

In fact, meeting your target clients’ needs for the life of your business involves challenging your thinking, using data and evidence-based evaluations to inform your strategy, and keeping an open mind.

“If you only do one thing, shift your mindset to curiosity,” says Ros Coffey, Head of People, Culture and Client Experience at Macquarie’s Banking and Financial Services group.

Focus groups, client feedback and satisfaction surveys can all form part of how you identify where you could be meeting some needs better, or where you’re investing too much energy. Regularly using these evaluation tools can help you keep your finger on the pulse, and move with the market as your clients do. Get your staff conditioned to asking your clients that “one more question” that may unlock something new that you didn’t know about them before.

Design and personalise

The broader market is setting the bar high for digital experiences, with personalisation being a key tactic in engaging and retaining clients. However, data from Salesforce shows only 34% of companies generally treat customers as unique individuals.

“We need to move from big data to smart data,” says Luis Uguina, Chief Digital Officer in Macquarie’s Banking and Financial Services group. “Find different ways to analyse customer data to create a much better and simpler experience, based on what each individual wants and needs.”

The principles of Human Centred Design (HCD) can be helpful in forming a strategy that connects with your clients. HCD does what its name suggests – it is an approach to testing and problem solving that keeps people, not products, at its heart.

There are five practical HCD tools firms of any size can use:

  1. Interview clients across different demographic groups.
  2. Observe how clients interact with your systems or processes in their own environment.
  3. Ask for feedback during regular review meetings.
  4. Map out the key steps in a typical client journey. Note how clients feel at each stage – for example, are they confident, confused, or frustrated?
  5. Test prototypes of new processes, portals or communications with clients and continually refine.

Here to help with your CX framework

Our Delivering on your client promise: 5 steps to success guide is designed to help businesses design, create and refine their CX strategy. It includes tools, strategies and insights to help you stay competitive, including an interview with Toni Knowlson, Digital Innovation Lead at Amazon Web Services, which you can access here.



1. Customer experience in the new reality: global customer experience excellence research, 2020. KPMG



The Macquarie Virtual Adviser Network (VAN) is provided by Macquarie Bank Limited ABN 46 008 583 542 AFSL 237502 (‘Macquarie’). The provision of VAN and the contents of this article do not amount to a financial product or financial service nor does it involve the provision of general or personal financial advice. Opinions or recommendations that are expressed are subject to change without notice and no member of Macquarie makes any warranty in relation to, or accepts any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage suffered by any person arising out of or in relation to the material in this article.