Hawksford's Peter Murley outlines the differences between Client Service and Client experience

As part of this process we have identified a set of client service principles. A key matter for many organisations, including Hawksford, is to clearly understand the real differences between client experience and how this compares to the actual experience.

Commentary - 09/09/2013

As part of this process we have identified a set of client service principles. A key matter for many organisations, including Hawksford, is to clearly understand the real differences between client experience and how this compares to the actual experience.

Client service

Hawksford always sets out to offer excellent client service to its clients. But in reality, is excellent service enough and what does that mean anyway? Well, it sure is a good start, but in a world where everybody is trying to differentiate their service models, or in markets where, for example, products from different providers are similar in nature, or price, or shape, excellent service is something you should expect and demand as a norm.

Excellent service, in my book, is always doing what is promised and where possible, going the extra mile. It's about doing it all consistently. Whoever speaks with you or  communicates with you should give the same answers to the same questions. It's about embracing complaints or comments and critiques, as that's the only way we will learn how
to improve.

Multiple research programmes conclude the same thing: clients, whether current or prospective, want a service or product which is of good and consistent quality, is convenient, swift, to the point, cost effective, packaged properly and simply and which guarantees to solve problems. The proof of that particular pudding involves us, the service provider, keeping our promises, being accurate, admitting when we've got this wrong and finding resolutions.

Clients require us to be competent, professional, responsive, reliable and credible. None of this requires a degree in nuclear physics. Great client service can happen in the exceptional situation or on a number of occasions. This might be a productive telephone call from a very helpful and knowledgeable person, or a memorable meet and greet in a retail store. This great service should be consistent, in that each time you make a contact by the same mechanism or 'access route', the experience is the same: it is impressive, it receives your admiration, or possibly even your loyalty (another subject in its own right), and you will tell others of your experience. It is always people who offer client service and they are the key
differentiator in business - at Hawksford we believe this absolutely.

Client experience

  • A great 'client experience' (note the exclusion of the word service) is about the very fabric of an organisation - the warp and the weave, something that always permeates the essence of the company, whatever you do, whoever you are, whenever or wherever it takes place and whomever you touch. It is much more endearing and lasting than simply 'client service'. The exclusion of one word - 'service' - is far more than semantics. A great 'client experience' is where everyone you speak to in the organisation delivers everything you expected, demanded and hoped for as a client and far   more besides, every
    single time. It is so consistent that it becomes unconditionally associated with your brand. When you reflect on your experience, you judge others against it in broad terms, i.e. 'I get that when I deal with Fred Bloggs Ltd', or you might judge others against it in specific terms, i.e. 'I never got that when I was a Jones mobile client'.

    A great client experience is about all the things every single person in the organisation says and does. EVERYBODY is a contributor to this experience - they live and breathe the values of the product and the business, they believe in them and that always comes across in everything they do and say. Passion, empathy, understanding, and everyone sharing the same set of overall values and beliefs, are key ingredients of an excellent client experience. A great client experience has a significantly higher chance of creating lasting loyalty and genuine recommendation as it is based on consistent excellence, a single voice, client-centric processes and a single-minded vision.

    We are on that journey. Like all journeys, they have twists and turns, but we are striving to provide you with a great client experience. As I mentioned earlier, we have identified a set of core values, which clearly outline our commitment to our clients and their advisers. These can be summarised as:
  • Keeping our promise
  • Accuracy
  • Consistency
  • Courtesy
  • Competence
  • Admitting errors
  • Credibility and reliability
  • Fairness
  • Responsiveness
  • Trust worthiness

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