A good friend of mine, let’s call him Ricky, recently remortgaged his house. As part of the process he was assigned a solicitor to deal with all the required legal documentation and checks. He tells me he had pretty low customer service expectations given an awful experience with another firm of solicitors nearly five years previous, when he last remortgaged. He settled himself in for a bumpy ride full of missed deadlines, complex legal jargon, admin errors and frustrations. However, he was very pleasantly surprised. Everything went smoothly and the whole process was far quicker than he had initially feared.
So, what had changed over the last five years that had enabled this new solicitor to deliver such a positive transformative experience? Three words: Client Portal Technology.
Transformative digital experience
Now – full disclosure – I obviously have a business interest in client portal technology given that IRESS offers one. So, I was fascinated to learn from my friend how this type of technology, albeit delivered in an adjacent industry, made his financial life so much easier.
Ricky recalls, with some residual angst I must say, how dreadful the process was half a decade ago. He had to fill out numerous forms, print them off and then send them back to his appointed solicitor, through the post, with a ‘wet’ signature. This step completed, he then received further documents a fortnight later requiring money laundering identification and a questionnaire asking for answers to questions he had already addressed. When, at various times during the lengthy process, he called for updates, he was passed from pillar to post and given increasingly outlandish reasons for what he believed was the firms’ administrative ineptitude. He was left feeling completely out of the loop and in the lap of the legal gods.
The technology deployed through an interactive secure client portal made the whole process so easy.
Fast forward to Ricky’s latest experience. What a difference and what a joy, he tells me. This new firm of solicitors immediately provided Ricky with a secure sign on to his personal client portal. In the portal menu was a list of activities that he and his wife were required to attend to. First, there was a questionnaire they needed to fill out. Before completion, there was a clear instruction – with no jargon – setting out the information they needed to have to hand, such as National Insurance and passport numbers, house and contents insurance details, current offer letter details from their mortgage lender and a few other bits and pieces. Once they had gathered all the information, it took them about 20 minutes to complete the questionnaire.
At a couple of points along their digital journey, they were prompted for additional information and confirmation that the details they had entered were correct. As soon as they had submitted it with the press of a button, Ricky received an email and text letting him know everything had been received and informing him what would happen next, together with an estimate of timescales for completion. The last document they had to fill in and sign electronically had already pulled through relevant information from the initial questionnaire, which avoided the possibility of manual rekeying errors and shortened the time in front of the computer screen considerably.
Technology that delivers delightful experiences
The two experiences could not have been more different. The technology deployed through an interactive secure client portal made the whole process so easy. It also gave Ricky and his wife confidence that things were moving along to their satisfaction. He didn’t need to call the solicitors’ office once to chase information or to check important documents had been received and acted upon. It was all there for him to interact with 24/7 on his mobile, or PC, or whatever browser-based device was in front of him. He was in complete control. And it was technology that had delivered that delightful experience.
A secure client portal deployed effectively provides substantial efficiencies; but most importantly it puts clients in complete control.
Now that client portal experience was delivered by a firm of solicitors who had obviously invested in its proposition with a clear focus on client engagement. It’s not actually ‘our’ industry, but it’s close enough to recognise the huge potential benefits this type of technology can deliver.
Powerful competitive advantage
In the financial advice and wealth management industry, we are seeing client portals increasingly being used by firms that have realised the powerful competitive advantage they can deliver. Deployed effectively a secure client portal can cut down on administration and errors. It can deliver substantial time savings. But more importantly, it puts the client in complete control of processes.
In short, as my friend can attest, a client portal can provide a delightful customer experience. If you genuinely want to keep your customer satisfied, you might want to explore the transformative changes that technology can deliver.
This blog first appeared as an article in Professional Adviser 28/11/18.
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