November 2, 2022

Enhancing the Client Experience #3 – Michael Back – Transcript

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Enhancing the Client Experience

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Fraser Jack 

Hello, Hello, my good friend of Michael Back. Welcome.

 

Michael Back 

Thank you, Fraser. It’s lovely to be here.

 

Fraser Jack 

Now when we’re putting together a podcast series, talking about client experience, who else could we get on? But you thank you for joining us. Thank you for agreeing to be part of it, actually.

 

Michael Back 

Oh, no, it’s my absolute pleasure. I love talking. And I love the client experience. So any opportunity to do both at once is a great opportunity in my book.

 

Fraser Jack 

Absolutely. And of course, you named your business human to human. So we made sure it was all around the human experience, we are talking about relationship businesses with advice firms, not just client experience. And in technology form, we are talking about humans, although a lot of it, I think what we’re gonna be talking about today is technology based.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, absolutely. And I think I’ve always looked at it through the lens of the human connection is absolutely the center of what we do. Technology makes it easier for us to scale that and to leverage that and to create more of that. But I must admit, Fraser, during COVID, I had some question marks over the hypothesis that I’ve doubled my business down on, which is face to face contact is always the central pillar of what we do. And it you know, we need to be face to face and digital can only do so much. But interestingly, I’d say in the last 12 months, I’ve never been more confident about that. And obviously, technology plays a huge part in creating more of that. But yeah, I think advisors potentially have been forced to go to digital in recent history. And now it’s maybe time to consider how to bring that human connection back into what they’re doing. Because they have the option to do so. Do we?

 

Fraser Jack 

Do we often think about this from a perspective of it’s digital, or it’s face to face? And should we be thinking about this? Is it logical, practical information we’re trying to provide versus emotional stuff, and maybe just divvy that develop the emotional side to be face to face and the and the logical, practical side to be digitally enhanced?

 

Michael Back 

Hmm, yeah, I think that’s a really good point. I think the way that I’ve been looking at it a lot lately is, there’s things that people know that they need, and things that we know we need to deliver. And technology is often the best way to do those things. But there’s things that we can’t predict, or we don’t quite know how they’re going to end up. And so from that point of view, it almost resembles a creative process. If you think of a discovery meeting, an advisor doesn’t actually know what they’re going to walk out of that discovery meeting with. And so from that point of view, it is a creative process. And so any creative process is usually best served by creating a space where creativity can be prioritized. And so yeah, I completely agree with the way you’re looking at this is that a lot of the face to face stuff? are four things that need to be created or clarified? Or where you need to take someone’s brain to somewhere that it doesn’t usually go. But yeah, things that involve ticking boxes, or gathering information or doing things that are quite predictable. I think advisors need to get more comfortable with outsourcing that to technology. And, you know, the fear in involved in that is that well, hold on, what do we talk about in meetings? Well, it is a really good question. But I think it’s an important question to be answering to create those powerful face to face experiences.

 

Fraser Jack 

There’s, there’s some great technology out there and and they were you were just saying I was thinking about the concept of how well has that, that technology been able to grab that emotional factor that the emotions and even even as you mentioned it, when you were just talking about the emotion of security or understanding, you know, somebody is leading you through a process and you’re like, great, they’ve been through this before. So I feel trust or that confidence and trust in them to be able to lead me through the process. So yeah, anyway, we’ll get into a whole lot of stuff, I think, feel like we weren’t going really deep, then let’s dive into the concept of user experience. And you know, putting the users at the forefront. And obviously, there’s a lot of information and research and you’ve been talking about this for a long time. Tell us tell us your thoughts on just the overall importance and where we should be starting.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, I mean, I think I don’t think I’m telling people things that they don’t inherently understand here that if you can see that any experience as a customer or client, and I think one of the most accessible examples that we have is the experience of going to a restaurant or a cafe, where paying five if you’re having non dairy milk or extra shots or whatever, you’re looking at six bucks for a coffee in Australia these days. And, you know, if you look at like the raw components of what we’re getting, it’s probably not worth $6, right? It’s but what we’re paying for is a lot more than just the product of coffee. It’s the experience that surrounds it. It’s that feeling of the barista, remembering our name. It’s the vibe of the cafe and how it makes us feel. If we set up our laptop and work from there, and we’re feeling a little bit more inspired and we’re enjoying our workday, just that little bit more. They’re all the things that we’re really paying for. And so a lot Whether time I think in business, we consider the experiences something that enhances the product or the service, I actually think that they’re completely inseparable. And I think it’s kind of irrelevant to try and separate them. The best starting point for me is that there is always a product and a service. But there’s always an experience. And we’ve all been to a restaurant where technically the food is incredible. But the waitstaff aren’t making eye contact with us, or they’re rushing us through or they read out the specials menu so quick, because they just want to get away from the table. And it doesn’t matter how good the food is, in that experience, we walk away not feeling particularly good. So it is a an equation that all businesses need to focus on. And I don’t necessarily think one bit is more important than the other, I think it’s all super important and all needs to be focused on. Yeah,

 

Fraser Jack 

so if we go back a step here, and we go, like, when we talk about business planning, it’s very easy to get caught up in this whole, you know, what is the product that we have, you know, what, what is the service that we provide? And we get stuck into that product and service rather than thinking about what’s going on in the client’s head? And what problem are we actually solving inside their brain?

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, a lot of the things, I will say on this episode of things that when I started out in my business, and also consulting and other businesses, that I would say, the complete opposite. So a lot of what I’m saying here is not conventional wisdom. But you know, the first thing I always used to say is that the client needs to be the center of the business. And what we put our clients first and every decision we make is with the client in mind, what I’ve since realized is that the client is so important in every business, of course, but it’s impossible to deliver a wonderful client experience if your team aren’t happy, because people can’t be unhappy within a business. And all of a sudden, then put on a smiley face and go over and above and blow a client’s mind and deliver a wow experience or just absolutely commit to driving the right outcome for a client if they’re not happy in the business that they’re in. And so I actually they say, just say too many businesses that before you even start thinking about your client experience, start thinking about your team experience, start thinking about bringing the right people in, and creating an environment where they feel supported and motivated and excited and committed. And then a lot of the time, you don’t need to map out the perfect client experience and create a decision tree for every single moment and what a team member should do. Because if you have the right people in the right frame of mind to have the right natural passions and desires to want to do the right thing by the client, the rest will take care of itself. So I think the client experience game is just as much a function of creating the right culture as it is around creating the right client experience.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, really, really good point. Because obviously, every single human in the business is going to be slightly different and going to be able to provide that outcome in a way that may not be exactly for the this is exactly how we provide the service. Or this is exactly how the product supposed to look. But it’s about understanding the client. And I kind of feel like when you first started, it was the talking about that, you know, the fact that the client is really engaged, and the clients really happy as other types of drivers that drive those staff members. But I guess, you know, for some people, that might not be the case, there might be other things within a team. And then to better understand the team is really important.

 

Michael Back 

Absolutely. And it becomes like the rising tide as well. So if you have a players on your team who are doing a great job for clients, and they’re put on somewhat of a pedestal on the rest of the team, understand you know that they’re connected to these moments. And when someone does something good, you share it and applaud them. It all of a sudden breeds in a very healthy form of competition where others go, Okay, I understand that, that’s what it takes to be celebrated around to your auto fit in around here. And so when I’ve got that moment with a client experience, where I can take the easy option, that’s going to frustrate the client, or I can put in a little bit more effort, but really make their life easier, and make the client experience better, they’re going to choose the latter over the former all the time, because they want to fit in with the culture. So a lot of this is about the right people doing the right thing by the client, but also that that compound effect that all those team members have on each other as well.

 

Fraser Jack 

Do love have a good compound interest story. Tell us a little bit about the if we go into the advice practice or into you know, how you how you work with advisors and what you’re seeing. I want to say get a little bit of the how and the more practical here, obviously, we used to do face to face meetings. And then there was online zoom meetings, and we’ve put a bit of a hybrid, I think it’s fair to say people are sort of juggling between those two at the moment. How are you seeing the difference? Whether user experience or client experience based on those two different methodologies?

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, so I think there’s probably a couple couple of points here. The first is related more to I think what businesses think is a great client experience versus what it actually is. I’m seeing a lot of businesses out there who are looking at it through With a lens that hasn’t traditionally been the lens to look at the client experience through, and that one is around simplicity. It’s this is one of the things I mentioned earlier that if you’d have spoken to me five or six years ago would have said something completely different to what they say today. Because the conventional view of a client experience is you got to exceed expectations, you know, under promise over deliver, create memorable moments in the client experience, create Wow, experiences. Yeah, there’s no way you could argue that those things aren’t important. But there was a study by Gartner who are management consultants who do a lot of deep research into customer, client drivers and organizational drivers. And what they found is that the biggest predictor of loyalty is not how good you make your clients feel. It’s actually how easy you make it to do business with you as as a practice. And so what I’ve noticed, and I don’t think a lot of the businesses I work with have looked at it from a research slash theoretical perspective, but because they’ve been such great adopters of technology, and because they, yeah, a lot of them are digital natives. They’ve started a business at a time where zoom calls during COVID, when an adjustment for them they were doing it already was just doing more of what they were already doing. And so because technology implicitly removes friction, they’ve only ever looked at their businesses through this perspective of how else can we reduce friction, but they’ve really stumbled upon something there that drives a lot of drives conversion. It drives loyalty. It’s such a big predictor of the bottom line. And that really is just about how easy you make it to do business with you.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, let’s let’s hone in on the simplicity idea, because I love it. Now, you mentioned easy to do business. I reckon there’s probably some people listening to this podcast going, Michael, you’re insane. Do you realize how hard it has been to do business over the last few years for financial advice businesses? How do we, what do we say to them? What do we say to the people that are going on? Look, it’s been it’s getting harder and harder. It’s been harder. And I’m not we’re not talking about the, you know, the reviews in the future and all that comes out. But right now? How can how can these advisors go? Right, what can we do?

 

Michael Back 

Hmm, great question. So one of the first things I’d say is that there is a natural level of difficulty in our industry that we can’t run away from. So I’m not here saying, we can create the simple customer experience that Apple created on their website in a financial advice, practice. Obviously, that’s not possible. But there are two things here because I think a lot of advice practices know that difficulty, but they’re not a good, they’re not doing a good job of communicating that to clients. So clients are expecting something simple, and then it’s a lot harder than they expect it to be. And then that’s what causes the frustration. So while there is definitely a need for practices to constantly question how they can simplify everything and learn from other businesses and do a better job of that, I also think most the most simple thing that they have in their arsenal right now is just to make sure that they say the clients look, this might take this long, or sad because we live it, there’s a lot of paperwork, there’s a lot of complaints, this stuff, you know, insurance underwriting being a great example that this is often a long drawn out process, but we’re here to make it as simple as possible. And so a client understands if something is going to take a long time, but don’t assume that they know how long this stuff is going to take some always be really clear in the expectations of how long things take is a really important one.

 

Fraser Jack 

I think I think a lot of advisors have their role and a good advisors because they do simplify the complex, I guess they were very good at considerable play in the complex when it comes to the individual items or products or strategies or whatever it might be. But then simplifying, the overall process is probably something that we haven’t really tackled.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, absolutely. And I think part of that, too, is not necessarily how difficult it is to do business with us. But a big part of the stress and the challenge and the frustration that we create isn’t the physical demands we’re placing on clients, it’s the mental demands we’re placing on clients. And so what does that mean? Well, that means anything you can do to reduce the length of an email or something that they’ve got to read or understand. I also know I’m preaching to the, the guru of video SLAs here. So obviously, that’s something Fraser that you you believe all too all too much in. But I think we are in the business of seeing complexity. And sometimes we share too much of that complexity with clients. I think there are definitely types of clients, the ones that always get thrown at me when we’re talking about this stuff. Our engineers and teachers tend to like a lot of detail. And I think it’s really important that if someone is a more detailed person, you give them that detail. But don’t assume everyone wants that level of detail and I’d always recommend giving just enough detail and you’ll know very quickly if a client wants more detail on it, in which case you should give it to them but in my experience Most clients don’t really need to know the ins and outs all that much. They just want to know the bare essentials and absolute facts they need to know but that they trust their advisor to be across the detail.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, you’re exactly right on the level of detail. I love the concept of just asking people. How much more detailed Do you want to be able to make a decision, which I guess is the whole idea of you know, this the statement of advice process, giving them enough information to make an informed decision, not overly Yeah. And you’re right, I just wanted to mention to the I think you’ve all you and I’ve spoken about this before they just the calories consumed by the clients when they have to go through that stuff.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, that’s exactly it. Yeah, the, the amount of the amount of attention that we have from our clients in any communication is probably a lot lower than we would like to think. So getting to the point quickly, and capturing people’s rapidly diminishing attention spans is super important. But also just that there’s a book that I absolutely love. I know, it’s been talked about a lot on the x y podcast called Building a story brand. And it’s really about an effective way to communicate messages to clients. And one of the one of the phrases that they use in our book is if you confuse you lose, and I think that’s so, so important when it comes to marketing messaging, that if you’re making people consume calories, go to too much effort, et cetera, et cetera, they’re just going to click away from your website and go do something that’s a bit easier on their brain. But it’s just that delay in a marketing sense would stop a prospect coming to your business, but in a client experience sense. I mean, they’re signed up, but what you’re competing with is procrastination and delay. So if you need to get something from a client, and you’re making it too hard for them to do it, they’re not going to ignore you or they’re not going to leave. But what they’re going to do is go do that on the weekend. And then the weekend comes and their kids want to go out and do something, they don’t have time to do that. And they just keep kicking the can down the road, and they’re losing momentum and enthusiasm. And all of a sudden, they’re not getting the client experience that they were hoping for. And a lot of it’s because they’re not doing the things they need to do. But that’s where business, I think needs to look at all of the little parts of what the client experience means from the client’s point of view, and work out how they can simplify that. But the thing, when you mentioned consuming calories, that the thing that my mind always goes to that a lot of practices don’t think about is consuming calories mentally, so not just actually what you’re asking them to do, or what to read or to digest or to understand. But those moments of silence in a client experience where you go, where’s that thing out, I haven’t gotten an update on this in a while, where people don’t know where things are up to that consumes a lot of calories and the worst type of calories because people are getting frustrated and annoyed. And it’s almost those moments where we don’t want them to do we don’t want them to think about this because they know where things are at. But they’re being forced to stress and worry and get annoyed about the work we’re doing together. So I think if I was to consider low hanging fruit, you know, there’s, there’s technology that a business could bring in. But as we all know, finding the right technology is hard and then rolling it out and building it into your process and getting the team to use it. That’s not actually low hanging fruit, but setting really good expectations at the start. So clients aren’t getting frustrated with how long things are taking that would be number one. Number two would be never, ever let any period of silence exist in your client experience. So if you’re in the middle of a process of underwriting, even if every week, you’re sending a client an update with the exact same information as last week, they know they haven’t been forgotten. They know that you’re still on to it, they know that things are still happening. And it just removes a lot of that noise in their head, which really creates a frustrating client experience.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, it’s some really good points in there. I love that period of silence thing. It’s you know, and you mentioned simple, small steps. And that’s great. And you also covered off on the concept of motivation, just trying to find some form of motivation to keep them moving along that because everybody’s distracted. That period of silence, I think is a really big issue for most businesses. I know that I’ve felt it in the past.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah. And I think we’re trained to only want to communicate with the client when we’ve got good news. And I learned this when I worked in a call center is that no news is bad news when it comes to the client experience. So I would have some people who were incredibly angry about something taking too long, and I’d call them every single day to just tell them where it was at. And they, that they that those conversations day by day got less and less angry and more and more friendly, because they could tell that someone had their back and someone was committed. And most of the time people understand that things take time or problems aren’t as simple to resolve as they’d like them to be. But what people don’t understand there’s been forgotten. And we all have that that feeling of buyer’s remorse, particularly when we spend a lot of money on something and if you think of a financial advice, practice, you know, we’re not charging small phase where charging 1000s of dollars. And it’s a really big decision. And unfortunately for us, it’s usually at that moment after a significant amount of money has changed hands that the client experience does get poor up because of all this red tape and paperwork and underwriting and all of these processes that are outside our hands. So you’ve kind of got this perfect storm of money changing hands, potential for buyer’s remorse, and then parts of the process that we can’t control as much as we’d like to. So I think like most things, communication is the best way to weather that storm.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, well, fantastic. Some really good tips there. Now, I wanted to make sure we covered off on this conversation at least other industries, and not just financial advice industries, and what you’re seeing that a great experiences, maybe what you’re seeing or bad experiences from from other professions or the industries or the other purchasing that goes on. But what are your thoughts around what you’re seeing? Well, the good and the bed?

 

Michael Back 

All right, yeah. So look, I think what? Yeah, this has been one of the biggest changes that I’m seeing some advice businesses nail and others not. But when you look at a purely digital purchasing process, so if you’re buying clothes online, or you’re buying something online, often Yeah, so like Uber Eats would be a really good example. You get you’re getting notifications, you can see the progress of where things are at it kind of feels like as soon as you’ve made that purchase, you’re being cuddled by the Uber Eats app, right until the point that you get what you want. And I think the online, the e Commerce Industry have really nailed that experience of having technology, deliver updates, and email communication and, and really just taking control of that whole journey. And not just focusing on the most important bit been the food arriving at your door, but also just kind of empathizing with how someone’s feeling before that. And after that and meeting them where they’re at. And I have seen a lot of finance advice, businesses really nail that as well. So in the past, as an example, if someone was to come into your office, the experience of arriving at your building, getting in the elevator, being gret, got bid been greeted at the front desk by a smiley face, sat in reception been offered a coffee, all of those things make people feel good. And it all becomes part of the client experience. Often in a digital world where we’re having discovery meetings over zoom, unless we take control of the client experience and adopt more of that E commerce thinking about where where’s everyone that and how can we make sure that we are showing up in the right way at the right time to make that purchase decision, a no brainer or to make sure that by the time the product arrives, that they’re in a good headspace. I think a lot of advice businesses haven’t thought about that. And that, to me is the next frontier. But there are a lot of businesses nailing it at the same time. And I think there’s a lot that we can learn from them.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, I want to dive into this ecommerce thinking with you. But I’m just going to come back to this word that you we will come back to it that you mentioned the word empathy and, and understanding empathetically what the client is going through. So I want to come back to that. But let’s go to this e commerce, thinking this concept of you know, what, what’s the experiences we’re getting online, and filling that void? As you mentioned, the feeling of being forgotten or the period of silence? What do you think that advisors can do in that space? I mean, obviously, I feel like it would be a good practical step for staff teammates to understand where everybody’s at during a process as well as the clients.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah. So there’s a couple of things there. The first is, and anyone who’s seen me present has heard me talk about this ad nauseam. So apologies if you’ve if you’ve heard me discuss this. But there was a really interesting study done in the States at a car wash. And what they did, they got two groups of people, and they gave them a loyalty card for this car wash. The first group were given a card and told if you get eight stamps, you get the ninth car wash for free. The second group, were given a card that had 10 You get 10 stamps, you get the 11th carwash for free, but the difference was the first two car washes were pre stamped. So if you look at those two cards, they’re exactly the same thing. The person has to buy eight sorry, seven car washes to get the next one for free. The only difference being that the first two stamps on the second card had been pre stamped so they’d already started the process and the data at the end of that after three months, they saw how many people had completed their card. The group who had the two pre stamped carwash, the two pre stamp car washes on their card, twice as many of them ended up filling out the card as the first one. And the conclusion of the study which is now called the Zeigarnik effect is that people have an innate dislike of loose ends, people We people absolutely hate this concept of starting something but not finishing it. And it doesn’t usually mean 100% of people are going to finish it, but you have a much greater chance of getting people to finish something that they’ve started. But if they don’t start, they’re a lot less likely to finish it. And so far in the financial advice practice out there. Anything you can do to make the first step in your process as simple as possible, is worth fighting for. And that’s worth finding. Because once you get the person to take that first step, they’re going to be a lot more likely to follow the next steps. The most simple solution for that, if you think about where most financial advisor, buying journey start, which is on the website, and this is where you you’ve seen see this a lot in E commerce is just to make that buying process super simple. We can’t get someone to buy financial advice online for a range of reasons. But what you can do is to make that appointment booking process as simple as possible. So if you’re setting your appointment behind the contact us form where someone’s got to put in their name, and their email address and a message and then hit submit. They’re not stamping that first, that first circle on their carwash card, they’re going, Oh, I’ll do this later, I’m just a bit busy. Now, I can’t be bothered. Whereas if you can just do something like Calendly, or an online booking software where someone can very simply find a suitable time booking a 15 minute chat or a 30 minute chat, an initial chat or something super simple to get that first step happening, you’re a lot more likely to get them to follow the rest of the process.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, just dive a bit deeper into that. So I noticed that things like quizzes and you know, like little optional extras at that moment to like just move them along a couple of steps of the process.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, I completely agree. I think the step of going, I’m on your website, and I’m potentially interested in becoming a client. And okay, I want to book in the meeting with you can be a big step for a lot of people. So for some people, they’re ready for that step, in which case, I say make it as simple as you can with some sort of online booking software. But yeah, there are people who that’s still too big a step. And traditionally, most financial advice, businesses have pretty much two options for getting closer to them. The first is contact our office and book an appointment. And the second one on the website is sign up for our newsletter, which I don’t know about you, Fraser but the idea of having another piece of regular email communication going into my inbox is pretty stressful. And so I think what I’m seeing with a lot of innovative practices, and not just financial advice, practices, all types of businesses is and i cos I did a few years ago called the ascending transaction model, which is to really break down that step of going, I’m not a client to I’m booking an appointment and building some smaller steps in there, which could be a diagnostic quiz, which could be download our three part video series on blah, blah, blah, just some sort of small meaningful step where you might be capturing their email address, which then gives you the opportunity to nurture them as a lead, but they’re getting something valuable out of it. And you know, that that that tasting, that they’re getting a little taste test of what it’s like to work with you and understanding how you think and feel, and they’re getting to know you a little bit better in a safe environment before they make that commitment to book an appointment.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, I think and obviously, with a lot of practices, a part of that is not so much the testimonial, but the understanding of how how you work with clients, how you go through that process, that what the outcome is likely to be for a lot of the clients that come through that process that those sorts of questions that are in their head.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I just see a lot of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, thinking here. So as an example, someone like a Ben Nash, if you wanted to get a little bit closer to Ben without having to book an appointment or become, you know, to go in for a meeting with pivot, you can listen to his podcast, you can download one of dozens of ebooks, you can go on to YouTube or Tik Tok, or any of these social media platforms are watching. Like, there are so many options, you can go to one of his online events like literally, that there are so many options. It’s unbelievable. When someone like pivot and I see businesses go, oh, well, I can’t do all of that. So I’m going to do nothing. So yeah, that’s the flood thinking is really you don’t have to be everywhere, that there’s you don’t have to be on every platform and have a multitude of options necessarily, if you just had one, or even two very small, meaningful steps that you were excited about creating and it really reflects who you are and what you’re all about. And the most important thing at this stage of the buying journey is for people to go I’ve arrived at the right place, particularly sound like financial advice, like it’s it’s not commoditized and a lot of the time people know they need to inverted commas sought their money stuff out, but they don’t actually really know what financial advice is and whether they need it. And so, I’d say more so than other industries, because we’re not selling a commodity or something that people have necessarily bought before. We need to make sure that they understand what financial advice is and what we do. Doing who we help and how we help them. And the easiest way I can think to do that would be a great video on your website, which addresses those points. Something that’s quite powerful, which I’ve seen play out in a bunch of different industries, is this concept of talking about the problems. So before you even go into, here’s our solutions, here’s our services, here’s what it costs. If you can perfectly describe the problems that your ideal client is experiencing, they get this sense of oh my gosh, you’re literally reading my mind, you’re speaking my language. You’ve described these problems that I currently feel even better than I can describe them. If you can describe the problems with such clarity, I assume that you have the solution. So you don’t even need to pitch there. And I think if you think about that buying journey from Hey, there’s a website, here’s our services book an appointment, that little baby step there, around empathizing with the person and going, here’s, here’s the type of people that we work with. And here’s the type of problems we can help them solve that that can go a really, really long way to building that trust and getting them a bit more comfortable. That idea of booking an appointment.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, it’s really interesting, I love the concept of talking about the appointments. And you mentioned the story brand earlier on, which is great if you know a great resource to go to and working out how you are going to talk about and work out what those problems are. To get that to that concept of as you mentioned, you feel like you’ve arrived in the right place. And I think that’s really important. Just not sure how there’s been Nash bloke, as you speak have never heard of, and maybe somebody can introduce me.

 

Michael Back 

Just going back to what you said about making people feel like they arrived at the right place. It’s just important, just as important to make sure that people who your firm isn’t suited to realize that they’ve arrived at the wrong place. So the messaging and the frictionless really do go hand in hand, because you can create the most frictionless process for booking appointments into your diary. And I mean, some of the listeners might have already preempted This is that part of the problem with making it really easy to book an appointment is people start booking appointments, and all of a sudden, and I’ve seen this happen that, yeah, a practice that I work with, that they did, it did a really good job of getting Google reviews, boosting their SEO, changing their website, and they were getting 100 inquiries a month, which before you get too excited about that, about 80 to 85 of them were terrible opportunities, and they weren’t the type of people and so it’s not a it’s not a one size fits all solution. And yeah, even tools like Calendly, now we’re starting to have better processes around filtering people. So you don’t just give them the day straightaway, you ask them a few qualifying questions. And there’s some interesting stuff happening there. Because this is the problem with making it too easy to book an appointment. But back to my original point, if you get the messaging piece, right, and make people who might be in that ad five, who aren’t quite suitable, if you could get half of them to get actually, this doesn’t sound like the place for me, you can save yourself a lot of time and say, Save, save a lot of time and energy for both the prospective client and the people in your team as well. So it isn’t just a case of make it as simple as possible. It’s got to be counterbalanced by getting the messaging right as well.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, that’s a good point. No, no, no, you can’t know your future clients know your prospects know, know who you best serve. So I think that’s probably a different piece of work outside of what we’re talking about. But it’s definitely it’s definitely a free piece of work to be done. Now, I

 

Tom Reddacliff 

wanted to ask you a little bit about the concept that of view, and I was dabbling in advice practice together. And considering neither us licensed financial advisors, that would be a bit difficult. But if we were to do that, and we would have worked with some advisors, what what are the blocks we put in place? First, what are the must haves? What are the things that we need to make sure we have in place?

 

Michael Back 

I think, yeah, going back to this concept of don’t try and wow, don’t try and build all the bells and whistles in make life easier. I think in the in that same spirit of that idea. I think a lot of the time, people start getting annoyed with a client experience when they’re not getting what they originally signed up for. And so I do see a lot of businesses, potentially in the early stages. And you know, it’s that idea of getting more excited about your logo and your letterhead and your business card than actually doing the hard work of building the business out there is something quite exciting about launching a business. But I do see people when they start out get excited about, you know, what are we going to do on clients birthdays, and how we’re going to make what we do inherently shareable on social media and then not putting enough effort into just the meat and three veg components of the client experience. So, for me, I think you’ve got to make sure that you have the production line of advice absolutely nailed. So things like your discovery meeting. Obviously your SLA process, your advice implementation process, your review process, you probably buy a little bit of time with the review pro He says, I think because, yeah, often when you’re in a startup business, it’s it’s like the guitar teacher who’s one lesson ahead of the students, I think getting that initial onboarding would probably be more important than the ongoing client experience. But you need to at least have a clear enough idea of what that is. So you can explain it to your clients. One thing I would say, I see a lot of that there’s probably two main mistakes that I see people make when they’re starting out and advice practice. The first is getting too obsessed with the experience and not enough on the marketing side. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen businesses go too far the other way to where they’re great at selling the dream, but they can’t back it up on the client experience. And we all know businesses in a range of industries like that, who have too much style and not enough substance. So I think it’s really important to make sure you got the substance, but I see people spend way too much time and money investing in, here’s the service, and here’s every element of it. And they just haven’t put enough clients through the experience in order to learn. It doesn’t matter how much of a genius you are as an entrepreneur, and how many incredible people you have in your team, I promise you 80% of what you’ll learn about your client experience can only be taught to you from your clients. So getting a bare bones, ability to deliver advice in the first place is super important. But I think pretty quickly, I would recommend your attention to enter the marketing piece. Because getting clients into the system and bringing money into the business that can then be reinvested into technology and people and all of these really important levers of the client experience is much more important than getting it right from the start. So many businesses, and I’m sure many of them have spoken about this on their podcast, just think that they know everything at the start and and they realize how little they knew. And that’s completely fine. But I would just wouldn’t be putting too much effort into things that are hypotheses rather than facts. And they feel like facts at the start. So the bet the best, the best expert at that point in the business journey, is the client going through the experience?

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, lots of lots of really interesting points. I think if it’s a really good word to demonstrate here, because there is obviously a focus around what do you prioritize as your effort and to be able to have that balance between marketing and actually, and we may talk about the experience, but delivering the experience to making sure it actually happens to every single client.

 

Michael Back 

Get that for sure. And yeah, this is probably the second mistake I see is that I think a lot of the time, people have been stuck in their own little paradigm. And so when they go to start a business, they think that the way that they’re going to be doing it doing it or their particular version of financial advice is quite unique. And I take people in the XY community probably feel less this way, because they are more exposed to the ideas of the people around them. But at the end of the day, I don’t think I don’t want to make this too black and white. But if you had, if you had an option for a typical person starting a business, who wants to do it in their own way, I think you’ve got to respect the fact that you only have so much energy and attention and effort. And the more you’re trying to put your own unique stamp on everything, it’s taking your effort away from things that potentially need more of it. And so if I think of something like marketing and sales, a lot of that, in the early stages will require energy from from the people or the team starting the business. Things like power planning can be outsourced. So you should say anything at the start that you can outsource, I would recommend outsourcing. Just because anything that you outsource it it if you can outsource to the right person, it retains that precious energy for you to deploy to something that is harder to outsource or shouldn’t be outsourced. But then I also would extend that a little bit further. So you have things like LUMION that can essentially run most of your client engagement process, bring a technology layer to it and help you have those conversations. If it’s going to take you weeks or months to come up with your methodology for running a really great discovery meeting in a way that could be trainable to others, you might want to start with a tool like that to just get things off the ground to get a really, really excellent client experience off the ground and then over time, add your own little touches to it. Because yeah, there are people like Lumad there are people like Jim Stackpole, who have processes and ways of doing things that absolutely work. And I think it’s probably similar to the first point a lot of ways is that thinking that you know, you know all the answers and that the way that you want to do it is better than the other way isn’t always the case. And I think if you can just start with something that is fantastic and then evolve it over time. It’s probably the best use of your energy and it’s probably probably the way to make the business more profitable from the start so you can then start making intelligent decisions to reinvest into the business.

 

Fraser Jack  

I resonate with what you’re saying they’re doing something well, and then looking at expanding on the amount of things you want to do, I’m, I’m often to blame with trying to do to do everything and wanting to do everything and then wanting to do it now. So I’m probably one of those folks that needs to be dragged back into line to just do this one thing and do it properly. Now, that’s, that’s very easy, I guess for them, you know, as to say, let’s start from from scratch. And, you know, it’s easy to say we can start from scratch and build this amazing thing. It’s very difficult to build a business or to build these things from scratch if there’s no income coming in. So a lot of people already have existing businesses. And for those that are already in existing businesses, what sort of ideas and tips and thoughts to you to put out to those people from where they can start? What are the quick wins sort of thing?

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, look, I think the quick wings, for me are anything that is adding too much effort to your client experience, you just need to find ways to reduce that effort. One thing that I would say is a real untapped resource when it comes to ideas to simplify the client experience, or to even just improve it in whatever you describe whatever you want to define. Improving, it is, as the most untapped resource I see in businesses is the team. Because if you think about a typical advisor, or vice practice client relationship, most of the value is delivered by the advisors. But most of the client experience is actually delivered by the rest of the team. And they are part of the processes that are sometimes making clients happy, and at other times are frustrating clients. And the businesses who are absolutely nailing the client experience piece are the ones who have a constant conversation that happening with their team around where where is our client experience not good enough? Where can we be making things better? Where can we be making them simpler? And okay, cool. Well, we’ve identified that so what are we going to do, who’s responsible, and I think as a, as a principal, in an advisor, business, or even just just as a leader in an advice business, it can be really easy to just think that you have to solve everything, but it’s probably a lot harder for you to see the problems with the same clarity that others in your team do. And there’s a lot to be said for bringing your team in on these conversations, and then helping them be part of the solution as well. It gives them new skills or breaks up their day, it creates new experiences, which are great for their career. But it also means that as a business, you can just achieve more as well. And so for the smaller businesses out there who don’t necessarily have people who are solely responsible for the client experience, I think dividing and conquering is super important. But before that, even just getting your team to decide where to start when it comes to improving the client experience and letting them brainstorm solutions. And you might want to have some involvement in those or be you know, that be a participant in those conversations, but not feeling like you have to do at all, is is a really big step forward. And you’ll probably be very surprised once you start bringing your team to these conversations, the types of ideas that emerge. Going back to what you said before Fraser, about what’s happening in other industries. I’ve run workshops with advice practices in the past, and one of the questions that we get the whole team to answer is, you know, what was a recent customer or client experience that you had in another business that really made you happy or made your life easier, or blew you away? And then really boiling down the principle that sits behind that? And then asking the question, okay, well, that blew you away when you brought bought that dress from Goldman. So how can we now bring that similar thinking into our business and create that same experience and so that mean, that’s it, you don’t need to be an expert on the client experience, or you know, that you don’t need to be a guru or have any experience in this stuff, we already have the experience, because we are on the receiving end of them a lot of the time. And so taking those wonderful client experiences we’re having day to day and just bringing that thinking into what we’re doing and advice practices is a fantastic starting point. And yeah, everyone in your team is responsible is capable of doing that, if they’re just pointed in that direction.

 

Fraser Jack 

It’s really interesting you say that, because I was going to just I was just about to ask you on the next question was gonna be about their concept of Do you survey your clients? And, you know, how do you get that information out? And you kind of answered it, like, we’re all consumers in some way. We all go through these experiences, we all go to other professionals with the doctor or accountant or whatever it might be, we all understand their process their work, but you also go and get haircuts and buy clothes and, you know, go get our eyes tested and get glasses, all these sorts of things. We don’t we’re all humans that go through a user experience or journey as as customers in some way. Yeah.

 

Michael Back 

And that’s it. Yeah, I I always think you’re first first. Yeah. Don’t Don’t try and improve the client experience without asking the clients right. So serving clients absolutely essential. But then don’t try and improve the client experience without engaging the people who are delivering most of it the team so I think you get that intel from your clients. One mistake I see businesses make here though is that they try and ask clients to what the solution should be. That’s not what clients are good at, they’re really good at identifying the problems, but your team are in a much better position to identify the solutions. So don’t expect clients to, to design these solutions or improvements, but get that information into the discussion, because it’s so valuable. Work out. Yeah, I think this is going back to what we’re saying before about starting a business. Don’t be a mile wide and an inch deep. You know, try and be an inch wide and a mile deep and narrow your focus and when it comes to your team. Yeah, but really just identifying, okay, well, what part of the client experience we’re going to focus on. And this isn’t the only time we’re going to be doing this, you know, we’re going to this is an ongoing practice that we’re going to be having in our business. So let’s just start somewhere execute that really well improve our client experience just that little bit, and then rinse and repeat and move on to the next one.

 

Fraser Jack 

You mentioned, rinse and repeat. Obviously, this is the sort of thing that you want constant. You want to put the time and effort and budget aside for constant constant improvement.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, absolutely. Because, firstly, particularly for those starting out in business, it’s this constant battle between what’s not good enough and what’s good enough. So there’s always going to be something you need to improve. But as technology evolves, as legislation changes, as all types of changes external to the business happen, it really changes the goalposts for what a great client experience could be or should be. And so from that point of view, there is no set and forget. And I think businesses who look at the client experiences aren’t we’re going to focus on this first six months and then move on with our lives. It’s not that type of project. This is something that needs to become part of business as usual. as your business grows, and you have a more corporatized structure, that’s going to mean you’re going to have someone in your business whose pretty much their sole focus is what the client experience looks like. But between now and then, when you don’t have that person. Yeah, bring the team into that discussion. But that there’s really no way that this won’t be part of your business as usual in the future, because this is what you’re selling this is, you know, this is this is your product and service design, or this is your research and development. This is your that this is your your incubator for taking your business forward.

 

Fraser Jack 

So much to say this good needs to be part of your Bau, right, your business as usual. Yeah, it really does. Now, obviously, with we’re recording this before the quality of advice, review hands down and official findings, but the the concept around that obviously, then comes up whether we need to look at that again, and work out what that experience is going to be. I really love the the concept that you mentioned, though, if you just maintain that simplicity layer across everything, and maybe just would you suggest people start with their existing process and just go through it and say, how do we how do we simplify all these things?

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, for sure. So So you have that benefit when you’re starting a business of having a blank piece of paper and being able to design things that can also be crippling to because you have too much choice. But for an existing business that’s running. I think that that concept of Kaizen, that continual and ongoing improvement and taking what you’re doing now and just iterating it and changing it, gradually, it it can feel a bit boring, it doesn’t have that same bright shiny, we’re just revolutionising the way we do things feel. But very, very few businesses have the bandwidth to continually revolutionize what they’re doing. And I think a lot of the hard work, but a lot of the reward is for businesses who are more patient and consistent and just chip away at things over time. And there’s going to be bigger steps forward in their client experience, it’s not always going to be this small gradual improvement. But you can spend a lot of time trying to think of this revolutionary way of doing things. And 18 months later, nothing’s changed, which is 18 months where you could have been making small, meaningful iterations to what you’re doing that take it to that same place, but get there in a much more sustainable way. We’re not exploding your team. And you’re also not, you know, pouring, pouring hundreds of 1000s of dollars into it as well. So I think from a practical point of view, I always recommend constant ongoing improvement. And yeah, bringing the right people into the room having the right conversations, asking them the right questions and making sure there’s some really strong accountability for them to follow through on not just having a great meeting, and then nothing changes, but making sure there’s follow through after that.

 

Fraser Jack 

You mentioned, I shattered when you said that 18 months, nothing’s changed piece because I think a lot of businesses have been wanting to do or thinking about doing stuff for a long time and never really, you know, 18 months later that nothing’s changed. Talk to us about that actually finding the time you know, creating a structure in place where you go great. Let’s actually find the time to put something in place and how are we going to do that and then and then actually going about and doing it? Yeah, so

 

Michael Back 

I think that the most useful model that I have for this is something that my dad used to ram down my throat when I was a kid called the success triangle. So he was a management consultant. And he always used to use this on me, when I wasn’t achieving something I wanted to, or if I was frustrated, because I wasn’t good at something, he’d always bust out the success triangle as a way to get me to focus on the bits of this that I could control. So the principle of the success triangle is, in order to achieve anything, you need three things, you need to be clear, you need to be capable, and you need to be motivated, so clear, you’ve got to know what you’re trying to achieve capable, you’ve got to be able to achieve it motivated, you gotta want to achieve it. So if we’re thinking here about a team of people trying to make some changes in a business, I think the first step for me is the motivation piece. So if you are a practice principal, and you go to a conference, and you come back with some great idea and say to your team, alright, guys, I’ve heard this great idea, we’re going to be using this software from now on, we’re going to be doing this, there’s almost no motivation for the team, because they haven’t participated in that they haven’t given input into that. They don’t understand why they’re doing it. And so you’re setting yourself up for failure. So I think inherently, if you have the right people in the conversation, and collectively come up, and I’m not saying you have to have the whole team involved, but as long as you’ve got multiple perspectives, who are going to be responsible for implementing it, who are contributing to that you’ve ticked the motivation box. Going back to that concept of being spread too thinly, I think, if you have 20 things on the go, you you’ve, you can put a big cross through the clarity piece and the capability piece. So to be super clear on this is exactly what we’re trying to achieve. Is this is in many ways, I’d say the hidden. The hidden dimension of a team achieving something significant is just the level of clarity to which people know exactly what’s expected by when, and who’s going to be responsible. And the clearer you can make the, the, the how, and the what, when it comes to any project that you want to implement, the better. The capability piece is often where a lot of businesses come on, done. And capability has a bunch of components. There’s knowledge, there’s experience, there’s skills, there’s all of that aspect of capability. But I think time is the one that brings a lot of businesses on done. And yeah, that’s a big question. And I know Fraser, you and I spoke about this in a previous podcast episode just around how to find time and how to make time for things. But there’s no real one size fits all when it comes to this. But in my experience, the this type of stuff feels a lot bigger to people when they’re not doing it. And then when they get stuck into it, they actually realize you can achieve a lot more in a short amount of time than you expected. Part of that is because something feels big and ugly and hard to achieve, because it’s unclear. So the clearer you make something, the less time people realize it’s going to take because they understand exactly what they’re doing. It’s not this big, vague, nebulous idea that, that that kind of hurts their brain a little bit. But I also think that that the paradigm shift that that creates time for this stuff is that the emails, the client work, the the stuff that we all know, we’re going to go into work as, say, an administrator, or power plant or someone in the back office, even an advisor, all of that stuff is known. And it’s a lot more motivating, because we know we can do it. But this other stuff can kind of intimidate us a bit because we haven’t done it before. But the paradigm shift that businesses need is that this stuff is more important than the client stuff, because it’s going to make life better for all our clients in the future. And so some businesses, it’s about carving time aside in the day and saying, or as a business, we’re all focusing on on the business stuff rather than in the business stuff. If that type of week to week or fortnight to fortnight, consistency is hard, even just having a day, every quarter where you get together and have these conversations, and even spend half of that day just working on implementing things just to get, you know, going back to the Zeigarnik Effect getting that project started. So people are more likely to want to finish it. But I think a lot of the time, once we get into the habit and the rhythm of doing this, it feels a lot harder. But those initial stages are so important, whether that’s a business who hasn’t done this before, and they’re doing it now or just a particular project that needs that burst of energy at the start. But I think you can tell a lot about what’s important to someone, by the way, they spend their time. And it’s the same as a business. If you’re saying to your team, all of this stuff is super important. But you’re not making the time or setting the time aside or booking out a conference room, off site. Once a quarter to be working on this stuff yet you’re not really backing up how important that is through your actions. So whatever you need to do to help your team create the time whether it’s a regular period of time in the business where you’re talking about this or these big pillars of time where you’re talking about stuff it needs to be in there to signal its importance because this stuff is so important.

 

Fraser Jack  

Yeah. Well, thank you so much. And thank you, thank you to your dad for the success triangle and rubbing it down the throat because you’ve nailed the head that one from from childhood. The, your excellent, you’re absolutely right on the on taking the time and setting the time aside and putting in the diary and making sure everybody’s involved and everybody comes along on the journey. Speaking of everybody coming along on the journey, Michael joining, just tell us a little bit about how you work with firms to, you know, throughout those appointments and how you work with firms to be able to help them get through the success triangle, or whatever it is that you’re using to, to like things actually happen in the business.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, so we’re business coaches, that human to human, we work really closely with businesses in a range of ways. So a lot of our work is around facilitating environments for discussions like this. We do a lot of work at offsites, we help with business planning. So we can help create some of this inverted commas human to human contact, which is going to give important priorities in your business that momentum they need. But the bread and butter of our work is is we work really closely with businesses on an ongoing basis to to set strategic plans, and then make sure that they’re implemented. And a lot of those have to do with making sure that the client experience is exactly where it should be. But for everyone listening to this episode, what I’d actually suggest as a starting point, so here we go sending transaction model is I created a website. So if you go to human to human.com.au, forward slash make business easier. I’ve got a toolkit there, which literally is designed for advice businesses who want to simplify their client experience. So there’s a bunch of things that you’re going to get in that there’s a copy of our survey questions. There’s also a, an agenda and a process for running a workshop with your team, which is designed to really hone in on Okay, guys, let’s simplify our client experience, what does that look like and create that momentum to make some meaningful change and spread the responsibility for that across the team. So if you want to have a crack yourself at doing this, and to make life easier for your clients, and bring your team on that journey, going to human to human.com.au, forward slash make business easier, and downloading those tools is going to be a really good start. total transparency. A lot of businesses give out tools like this because they want you to pay to be a client. I’ve actually had a bunch of businesses who have downloaded those tools and got huge outcomes without me even being involved in the business. So this stuff does work. And I’ve designed the tools so they’re actually going to be implementable and are gonna give you value without you needing to pay $1 for them. So I hope they’re useful. But yeah, if you want to download some resources to help with this stuff, I reckon that’d be a good starting point.

 

Fraser Jack 

Fantastic. And if you want somebody to help you out then then reach out for someone’s to reach out what’s the best way is it through that same website?

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, go to human tumor.com Today you and get in touch. I’m also pretty active on LinkedIn, and love expanding my network. So yeah, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Then we can stay in touch.

 

Fraser Jack 

Wonderful. Michael, thank you so much for coming and sharing your gold nuggets of wisdom. Really appreciate it.

 

Michael Back 

It’s been my pleasure, Fraser. Thanks for having me.

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