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Creating a Best-in-Class Client Experience in your Family Office


October 27, 2022

When it comes to elevating the “customer experience” to improve client satisfaction and results, today’s family offices could learn a thing or two from Starbucks.

Starbucks has succeeded in turning the coffee buying process into a highly consistent, satisfying experience they can charge a premium for. The company created its experience using an integrated platform, customer journey mapping, common business processes, and a detailed set of workflows that are consistently executed to deliver on the Starbucks promise - setting a new standard in the coffee business.

Of course, the workflows and business processes within a family office are often highly complex and the expectations of clients are not always predictable. No matter how well we craft an experience, a client may not perceive it exactly as we anticipate or hope. Yet, offices cannot afford to throw up their hands and give up in the face of unpredictability. Instead, the axiom “to plan for the worst and aim for the ideal” is appropriate when considering the experiences your office wants to create.

Client experience is the sum total of how your office engages with its family members, not just during specific types of interactions or snapshots in time, but throughout the entire day-to-day cycle of client-office engagement. Sometimes people think of customer experience as emanating from digital interactions, such as on a website or a smartphone. In other cases, client experience is focused on client service delivery or the speed and manner in which problems are solved. To be really successful on a long-term basis, client experience needs to be seen as all these things, and more.

What Family Offices Can Learn From Starbucks

Family Offices can achieve the same efficiencies and valued client experiences as Starbucks by closely examining the critical daily tasks they perform and transforming them into well-documented, systematized processes for consistent, best-in-class service delivery. Adding workflow automation to minimize steps that must be performed by people will help ensure that consistency. And providing a multi-channel client experience that allows family members greater convenience and choice in how they engage with the office will also improve efficiencies and satisfaction.

Automation And Integration Are Key

For most family offices, there have been two missing links in achieving highly consistent and satisfying client experiences: the automation of client service workflows, and the integration of essential applications and services, such as an effective client portal, CRM, document management, portfolio management, financial planning and corresponding systems/data from custodians.

Proactive, Not Reactive

Through the creation and automation of client service processes and workflows, family offices can create an efficient foundation to adapt and scale services without adding staff. They can do more for clients without working harder and become more proactive rather than reactive. They can build fiduciary and compliance steps into the workflow so these steps are completed correctly each and every time. And they can alleviate over-dependence on key personnel whose departure would otherwise create major disruptions.

Technology Is Essential

A report by McKinsey, entitled Transforming Customer Experience in Wealth Management, underscores the essential role technology can play in advancing customer satisfaction. “The ‘aha’ moment was realizing that the right question was "how can technology improve the relationship between clients and advisers? Not just speed up the process.” according to the report.

How can technology improve the relationship between clients and advisers? Not just speed up the process.

Analyze To Reimagine

Any real improvement in the client experience in a family office requires a bottom-up approach based on thorough analysis. That means drawing on all available data to build a genuine understanding of which parts of the client journey matter most to client satisfaction and then having the courage to reimagine the entire service model and the structures that underpin it.

How To Transform The Customer Experience In Your Family Office

To summarize a winning approach to transforming the customer experience in today’s family office:

Maximize front-office effectiveness: Concentrate on client-focused activities by providing the information and tools required to acquire, serve, and retain clients. Leverage advanced analytical techniques to reap the full value of both internal and external sources of data.

Create a seamless, multichannel client experience: Design efficient, error-free processes with low cycle times that minimize data loss and downstream re-work requirements. Manage multiple entry points into end-to-end processes that provide an efficient and effective multichannel client experience.

Utilize best practice business processes, workflow, integrated software, and services to ensure flawless delivery: Ensure consistency by establishing pools of resources focused on similar tasks. Strive for high automation levels, smooth workflow management, and a single primary source of client data.

Develop a transformation model and roadmap: Leverage operating models to maintain the integrity of risk management and compliance procedures. They reduce risk while increasing overall efficiency.

“Putting the client at the heart of the service experience” should be the family office essence. Every family office provides a client experience, regardless of whether you create it consciously or not. It’s up to you whether it’s exceptional, awful, or just industry average.


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