Critical features of a client centric team

Since 1998, Russell Investments globally has offered practice management guidance designed to help financial advisers build better businesses. One of our key insights has been that the most successful teams are client centric teams. A common feature is a client first philosophy that is reflected throughout their service models, workflow processes and team composition, which ultimately leads to successful business growth.

Below is an outline of the four steps that we believe are necessary to build a client-centric organisation and maximise your team's effectiveness.

1. Fostering an aligned client vision

In order to get the most out of your team, they need to understand the ‘Why’ of what they are doing. ‘Why’ am I doing this task, ‘Why’ is it important?

An illustration of this alignment is the story of when John F. Kennedy toured the NASA Headquarters for the first time in 1961. During a tour of the facility, he met a man mopping the floor and asked what he did at NASA. He replied “I’m helping put a man on the moon!” This man understood that his every day tasks played an important part to the overall mission. We see this in Adviser firms, the teams that live by the mission – or the Client Value Proposition - are the ones that have greater alignment with their clients.

The great leaders are the ones that can help all the team members see how their roles and responsibilities are key components to the overall mission for your clients. As well as celebrating business and staff achievements, celebrate the client achievements also. Have a standing agenda item in your team meeting of client wins and use this as an opportunity to reinforce how the team contributed to the life long goals of your clients.

2. Create sustainable client service models

The not-so-secret to success in running a service based business is delivering on client expectations. When designing a service model, there is a balancing act in building a compelling client experience, and having the team capacity and skills to consistently deliver on that promise.

Having clear client segments and aligning the service model is a simple step in designing a sustainable service model. Simple to say, but often challenging to execute.

Encourage your team to play a role in your client service model design. Encourage to firstly brainstorm a long list of what could be included in your service model, then filter by what is necessary, what they think will be valued and how easy (or not easy) it would be to implement.

Then the key is to test and test again. Test with clients and prioritise what they see as valued and important to them. Test with the team, map out the available capacity of the team, the likely time required to execute the service model – and assess whether you are over or under-committed.

3. Align role clarity and documented workflow to the client experience

Formally documenting the workflow in an “operations manual” can provide transparency into the business’ resource requirements and reinforces the business’ focus on the key client segments and their corresponding service models.

But what does your operations manual have to do with your client? Everything! They may never see it, but they experience its outcomes, outputs and your team’s associated behaviours.

To ensure the operations of your business are client centric, design your processes around how the client engages with each process and your business overall. For example, a marketing process is not about pushing content out, they are client engagement communications. Develop team language and behaviours that connect the activity to the client experience.

Ensure there are champions of different processes ensuring they are working well for both the client and the business. This provides important role clarity for team members by identifying which tasks need to be accomplished and to whom they are assigned. With clearly defined responsibilities, each team member is in a position to achieve mastery – and is also empowered to potentially expand their impact into greater client-centric value.

4. Increase the depth and breadth of your client engagement across your team

Client segments are often revenue based when designing a service model. But challenge your team to think about sub-segments of your client base where there are opportunities to deepen client connections.

For example, you may have groups of clients that enjoy bike riding, ocean swimming, cooking. Build lifestyle events into your service model that align with sub segments of your client base. Ensure your team have the opportunity to participate in some of these events, especially if they share the interest and more so if you think of them as non-client facing. Your clients see more of your team and what you do for them, as well as your team seeing how they are supporting the client mission. A win win.

The bottom line

If you’re looking for ways to continue to grow your firm and enhance your efficiency, consider following these four steps to build a client-centric organisation and maximise your team's effectiveness.