Companies want to deliver a seamless, connected, and personalized customer experience (CX). Yet across industries, 74% of business leaders agree silos prevent a great CX. There are many pieces to CX, but the digital experience (DX) is key. That’s where customers expect all their data to come together without friction.
Nowhere is that more true than in the financial services industry, with 68% of customers saying they’ve elevated their digital expectations. For instance, wealth managers like Wealth Enhancement Group (WEG) experienced an increase in digital engagement in 2020. According to Morgan Stanley Research, that included a seven to 10 times increase in engagement across all digital channels and a four to five times increase in digital research consumption.
[WEG] took a practical approach to experience development – one that prioritized changes that delivered immediate value and time savings for clients and the advisors who serve them.
WEG saw the surge in digital engagement firsthand early in the pandemic, as clients shifted from face-to-face interactions to digital-first options. Luckily, WEG was able to deliver a connected digital experience – supporting the company’s CX goals as client expectations changed. The secret behind WEG’s success? Rick Shideman, chief information officer and chief information security officer at WEG, reveals it went beyond the connected client data the company already used behind the scenes. His team took a practical approach to experience development – one that prioritized changes that delivered immediate value and time savings for clients and the advisors who serve them.
An enhanced digital experience prioritizes clients and employees
The WEG digital experience gives clients fast access to their financial information. Clients find insights relevant to their financial needs easily thanks to personalized content recommendations. And there’s an easy – and secure – way to do everything from change addresses across accounts to make an appointment with an advisor. The digital experience even streamlines much of the data gathering behind the financial planning process. But the digital experience isn’t only for clients.
Tax and trust pros have secure access to 360-views of clients to gain immediate insight into clients’ needs.
Prospects can get to know WEG by exploring blog posts and podcasts about investment trends. When prospects are ready, WEG matches them with an advisor. Employees enjoy a connected experience, too. That lets them help clients faster as it saves them time. For instance, an advisor can connect clients to tax and trust specialists quickly. And those tax and trust pros have secure access to 360-views of clients to gain immediate insight into clients’ needs.
How WEG created its connected digital experience
Shideman reports that his team positioned itself for success by replacing siloed systems with processes and Shideman reports that his team positioned itself for success by replacing siloed systems with processes and technology that put the client at the center. That step simplified what hampers many financial service providers. His team used that connected data as the foundation for the digital experience. Every step of the way, his team looked for digital ways to deliver a better overall CX. He offers several tips to other leaders looking to build digital experiences that boost the CX.
Develop a clear plan to drive alignment across teams
Shideman and his team worked closely with other teams at WEG to build – and sustain – agreements about how to enhance the digital experience. The teams collaborated to determine what business processes to extend outside the company to clients. Financial data collection, address management, and appointment scheduling were a few that made the list.
Now, digital-first and digital-only prospects have a smooth path to learn more about WEG and reach out to an advisor.
The teams gathered data on how proposed changes would drive revenue increases or cost reductions. This data informed an investment plan that linked proposed digital experience enhancements to benefits for the company and their clients. They used the plan to win buy-in from stakeholders. For example, Shideman and WEG’s chief marketing officer (CMO) used this approach to gain alignment on the specifics of the digital experience for prospects. Now, digital-first and digital-only prospects have a smooth path to learn more about WEG and reach out to an advisor.
Get direct client feedback early and often
To learn what clients wanted in a digital experience, WEG went right to the source. The team engaged with clients, capturing their input throughout development. They started by identifying key client groups, such as new and longtime clients. To help them ask the right questions of clients, the team turned to WEG financial advisors. Anecdotal data about what advisors were hearing from clients informed the questions posed to the client groups in surveys and one-on-one interviews.
The team used its findings to develop mockups of digital experiences that they then reviewed with clients. Feedback gained in these sessions helped the team refine the experiences before building them. This saved both development time and money.
When digital experiences generated disappointing scores, the WEG team worked to remove friction until scores improved.
After launching new digital experiences, the WEG team tracked their success. They did that by correlating the use of digital-first interactions, like self-service tasks, with client satisfaction survey data. When digital experiences generated disappointing scores, the WEG team worked to remove friction until scores improved. They also looked at client adoption data. If experiences failed to win over clients, the team explored why with the goal of learning how the experience could be improved.
Empower client-facing employees with information and automation
WEG financial advisors spend large portions of each day working directly with clients. Any time they save on routine tasks goes back into interacting more with their clients. With that in mind, WEG sees employee digital experiences – especially timesavers – as CX wins. WEG looked for ways to improve employee experiences as it created a digital-first experience for clients.
Shideman’s team started by documenting the mundane tasks that drained advisor time. They found significant overlap with client wants. WEG extended the client self-service experience to advisors, so they could complete tasks for clients when asked. Tasks like address changes – a multi-step process for many financial products – now flow faster.
WEG also created an employee digital experience around content. There, advisors and others can find the latest information on events, policies, and other company news. They stay up-to-date more easily, helping them keep their clients connected to the latest information, too.