When most people hear SaaS (Software as a Service), they tend to focus on the software part, not the service part. Software is often the new and innovative aspect, so the fact we turn our attention to this is no surprise.
Service on the other hand, is often perceived as a responsive mechanism, triggered to react to a request when something doesn’t quite go to plan. Plainly speaking, service is seen as secondary. Some even go so far to suggest that focusing on service infers your product has limitations.
It’s important to realise, software is there to augment the service, not alone be the service. Whether that service is low-touch or high-touch, the key tenet is that value is being delivered, beyond utility.
The fundamental problem with focusing on functional benefit alone is that it repeatedly leads to commoditisation and therefore margin erosion. Online retailers suffered from this initially. By basing their propositions around range size and price, they were simply holding a mirror up to the brands they sell, rather than adding unique value in the process. Those who now dominate this space, like Amazon, went above and beyond to deliver unique value.
Unsurprisingly, others looked to these successful players and learnt. Curation and category specialisation are now the major trends in online retailing. Value is built through discovering and sourcing unique product and better engagement with customers, allowing them to achieve higher margins. In other words, a defined value beyond utility.
With the speed of change super-charged by technology, function is a fragile point of difference, no matter your category. You can stand-out from the crowd one day and be lost within it the next.
A key challenge that we frequently observe in the market is advisers jumping in and out of different programs in order to show their clients a full picture of their wealth. It’s a clunky process. Logging in and out of multiple bits of software loses momentum; not just for your team to complete the required work, but for your client experience.
From my experience, solutions that provide a single view of a client’s financial universe relative to their financial ambitions is where significant value can be generated. However, a single view is just the start of an even greater value proposition that can be unlocked when software and service work as one.
The following are four software and service philosophies that we employ to ensure our business constantly adds value to our clients, so that they can efficiently add value to theirs:
If you set out on a morning run and the first kilometre is tough, its likely you’ll be dreading those that are about to follow. Same goes with onboarding. Carefully consider your end-to-end onboarding journey to make it as seamless and efficient as possible. For instance, rather than endless form fields, we’ve created easy to navigate digital Fact Find modules. These break down information gathering into easy to navigate, modules designed around the common areas clients will be retrieving the required data from.
When assessing software that can help you scale your service proposition, pay particular attention to the technologies ability to have configurable & compatible inputs and outputs.
Why? Because a cookie cutter approach leads to commoditisation. The common trait of successful SaaS products is their ability to integrate into your existing business and enhance your already tailored customer experience. While products that don’t offer this can still produce short-term efficiencies, they inevitably become redundant. Technology should empower you to deliver your unique brand of advisory service, in the most efficient manner.
Whether B2B or B2C, if you’re in a service industry, you constantly face the same challenge. The tension between a client’s desire for proactivity and, you, the service providers need for scalability.
This is where we believe the role of technology in our lives, at times, has lost its course. When email became the preferred method of communication the intention was to streamline and reinvest that time into other modes of value creation. The problem is, we have become slaves to this particular technology, not empowered by it.
When using technology to drive efficiencies, think about automations that can be setup to add value to multiple clients or use cases at once, not just individual circumstances. While it’s important to tailor technology to clients’ specific needs, these can often be applied to other clients’ situations as value adds. For example, triggered alerts highlighting shifts in client spending relative to budget give you the opportunity to efficiently demonstrate a high level of engagement and oversight. Beyond cash flow, the integration of your key planning tools allows for similar, seamless proactivity, highlighting key times to implement the next phase of a client’s strategy.
Another common challenge in service industries is making your value grow. Many engagements, whether in financial advisory, operational or even marketing advisory, begin with a strategy and planning phase. This is often when the greatest amount of value is built, however, this value is often hard to maintain.
It can be caused by complexities rolling out the plan, or other unforeseen forces that hinder the plan coming to fruition. The strategy can become hazy and the clarity built in the initial engagement becomes complicated and diluted.
Single view technology gives you the ability to quickly (and proactively) identify if a plan is trending off course, diagnose and adjust accordingly. This will ensure the value you build at the beginning of an engagement continues to grow throughout.
In our industry, the best software is that designed to allow you, the adviser, to deliver your style of service in an efficient and scalable away. The benefit to your clients being greater insights, control and empowerment over their financial situation. Most importantly though, what you add along the way.
Businesses that have the most success in utilising customer facing software are those that, prior to using it, have a well-defined and repeatable value, service and process in place. This should shape how you choose and customise software and how it ultimately adds value to your clients.
If you’re interested in a single view of your client’s financial universe and the ability to scale your unique service proposition, sign up to Moneysoft for a free 30-day trial.
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DISCLAIMER: The XY Adviser website and all content contained on the website is limited to general information. It does not constitute legal, financial or other professional advice. XY Adviser does not hold an AFS licence and does not provide any financial services. Nothing on this website should be interpreted as financial advice. Before making any investment decision, XY Adviser recommends obtaining financial advice from a qualified financial adviser.