Posts Tagged ‘Technology’


Clients Do Not Want Help. Until They Do.

November 27, 2012

(This was originally published as a guest post for my friends at the management consulting and strategic communications firm Beyond the Arc: Understanding how customers really want help.)

On the same day I published a post on the Clientific blog about the sometimes disappointing allure of technology (Technology is Not a Silver Bullet), the always insightful Discerning Technologist Brad Leimer shared a a post from The Financial Brand on LinkedIn (Big Study Examines Retail Channel Preferences).

The study, sponsored by Cisco, showed strong consumer preferences for non-branch channels such as web, mobile, phone and ATM for many types of interactions. However, branches were the preferred channel for such things as “Apply for a loan” and “Support from banking representative”. (See below)

What explains the stark differences? First of all, as Ron Shevlin of Snarketing 2.0 says,  just because a person visits a branch for help or to complete a transaction doesn’t necessarily mean that they prefer to do it that way. It may mean that the web site or phone representative was inadequate to meet the client’s needs.

Secondly, and not to get all snarkety myself (that’s Ron’s sole province), but clients really don’t want your help. Until they do.

Results Not Process

Much has been written about the so-called “customer experience”– everything that a customer comes in contact with during their lifetime interaction with your brand; direct and indirect, obvious and subtle, conscious and unconscious.

Successful firms correctly attempt to measure the expressed and latent needs of clients. The best keep in mind the words of the great ad man David Ogilvy, who has been variously quoted as saying multiple versions of “People don’t want quarter-inch drill bits, they want quarter-inch holes.”

I have long found inspiration in the work of now-retired Harvard Business School professor David H. Maister, and I have been using some variation of his 2×2 matrix below for at least a decade.

Maister uses a healthcare analogy to describe the key operational and profitability metrics of different departments, and I have found it useful to help financial firms think through their various activities and how they provide value to their clients.

Pharmacy (Low Touch/Standardized Process)
For a financial firm, these are the things that just need to get done quickly and accurately. For the most part clients have little preference as to how.
• Account Opening
• Transactions
• Balance Reporting
• Transfers
• Basic Service Issues
Nursing (High Touch/Standardized Process)
These are items that might need a little more hand-holding, even though the processes and protocols are still well defined, and good client-service skills can go a long way to improving client satisfaction.
• Standard Credit
• Product Advice
• Estate Settlement
• Discretionary  Trust
• Complex Issues
Brain Surgery (Low Touch/Specialized Process)
These activities require specialized skills, but the real value comes from applying the expertise, not necessarily from the advisor/client relationship.

• Custom Credit
• Asset Allocation
• Basic Trust Admin
• Complex Assets
• Basic Estate Plans
Psychotherapy (High Touch/Specialized Process)
For financial firms (and especially wealth management firms), this is the top of the value chain. It’s what happens here that drives most loyalty/at-risk measures. Diagnosis is key, and it is from here where brain surgery may be prescribed.
• Goal Setting
• Financial Planning
• Complex Estates
• Succession Matters
• Nonfinancial Issues
• Moral Support

Bringing it All Together

Clients may well be willing to use your new app for certain things, utilize your web site to download transactions and contact your call center to change their address. Those things may improve your operating margins– as long as they work.

The face-to-face interactions that do the most to improve the client experience are not the ones that solve the issues that could have been (and should have been) solved via other channels. It’s the ones where they are really receiving the time and attention from someone who understands their situation and their goals and is helping them get to where they want to be.

Clients don’t want your help. Until they do.


Top Ten Geek Week Sneak Peeks – Part 2

March 10, 2012

Today: The GeekWire Summit

Startup technology news site GeekWire held its first birthday party on March 7 with the GeekWire Summit. Speakers included former Microsoft Chief Software Engineer and Cocomo co-founder Ray Ozzie, former Swype CEO Mike McSherry, Hulu CTO Richard Tom, T-Mobile CMO Cole Brodman, Rhapsody President Jon Irwin, venture capitalist/serial founder Oren Etzioni and other great technology minds. Nothing was focused on FinTech per se, but nonetheless here are some highlights and potential implications on the intersection of leadership, advice and technology in financial services:

“How do large companies innovate? They buy small companies.”

Oren Etzioni

  1. On the rise of social collaboration in the enterprise, Ray Ozzie paraphrased Ethan Zuckerman (who also has a lot of interesting things to say about how we tend to interact with people who are most like us, but that’s another post) in describing the “scopes of voice” as public/private/secret/self :“I think when you get into enterprise and business scenarios, there are some organizations where speaking publicly in a public voice is very useful. Professional services firms promote an internal culture where speaking openly and being known as the professional who knows something about something works a lot better than certain manufacturing company, where the internal norms might be different in terms of secrecy and confidentiality.”  There is still lots of opportunity, but also lots of work to do, since only 27% of financial professionals use LinkedIn, and less than 4% use any other social media methods at all.
  2. Do you think that building a massive base of clients/users/followers is in direct conflict with customizing your messages to be relevant individual users or subgroups? Consider that Hulu  has 1.4 BILLION ad impressions per month, but they offer some innovative ways for users to customize their ad content. Ad Selector allows viewers a choice of three ads from one brand or one ad from a selection of three different brands. Ad Swap allows viewers to find ads that are most relevant.
  3. Great discussion on the state of mobile technology. All on the panel had praise for the Windows Phone platform, but noted that they have a long way to go with a 4.4% market share to Android’s 49% and Apple’s 30%. (IMHO, I think that RIM’s enterprise-centric 15% share is the most vulnerable to Windows, and it’s already down 2% in the last three months.) Former Swype CEO Mike McSherry said that Apple’s Siri natural speech style will help improve text entry over time too. This evolution to more natural interfaces and input styles was also noted at Micosoft Research on the prior day.
  4. Startup investor and advisor Hadi Partovi noted that the cost of sequencing the human genome has gone from $1 billion to $1,000, and predicts it is heading to $100. If that can be democratized, how naive are we about “big finance”?
  5. Facebook’s Director of Engineering Jocelyn Goldfein said that the company rolled out the new Timeline with a team the size of a startup. Facebook video chat? One guy. In Seattle. Although, that may be taking the lean approach a bit too far. (As someone retorted on Twitter “That explains a lot.”) Still– how many consultant engagements, project managers and steering committee meetings do we need to make meaningful change in our business?

“It’s not enough to encourage employees to innovate.

You have to protect them from the cost of failure.”

– Jocelyn Goldfein, Facebook

(P.S. – I live tweeted my new startup idea from the conference: Embedded QR codes in public carpeting. Remember, I get a 20% Founders Fee.)

Yesterday: Microsoft Research TechFest 2012


Open Forum: What is the Disruptive Potential of “mWealth”?

March 3, 2012

A recent article in Fast Company magazine (As Smartphones Get Smarter, You May Get Healthier: How mHealth Can Bring Cheaper Health Care To All) described how the technology in today’s smartphones are and could be used in modern healthcare (ultrasounds on the screens, HD cameras for cancer screening, accelerometers to guide physical therapy, microphones as stethoscopes).

It got me thinking…

What is the disruptive potential of mWealth?

…use geolocation to…

…use your HD camera to…

…use existing apps to…

What is the disruptive potential of “mWealth”?

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