Customer centricity may be an overused term. But when it comes to financial services clientele, an advisor is seen as a lifeline, a partner, and ultimately someone who helps you visualize your future.

But in the tightly-woven triad that is corporate teams, financial advisors, and investment customers, it takes more than customer service, brochures, and market indicators to build empathy and trust. It takes the kind of shared vision that has you thinking like your customers, not just about them.

With nearly 7 million investors throughout the U.S. and Canada, our client knows what it needs to do to uphold its ranking as one of America’s Best Companies to Work For. Its employees reap deep satisfaction helping investors envision their futures. And building true understanding among employees becomes the glue that leads to customer lifetime value and enduring relationships with those they serve.

With this deeply engrained in its company mission, our client took the necessary steps to ensure an outside-in perspective to understanding its customers informed inside-out strategies to consistently deliver on its promise to customers.

In 2018, corporate teams embarked on a journey to assess and align on their customer-centric pillars. While executives unanimously agreed that the customer perspective is central to the organization’s growth, they also were aware of the internal barriers impeding them from operating in an ideal state.

In their case, they weren’t harnessing the wealth of frontline knowledge, and instead were relying on a demographic and behavioral-based view of their customers. Furthermore, they lacked mechanisms to infuse a more contextualized portrayal of customers across functional areas of the company. At best, this led to operational inefficiencies. At worst, it led to attrition caused by inconsistent customer experiences. In all, this organization was struggling to leverage its advisors to become a source of information about their customers, and act as the organizational advocate for customer-centric strategies.

While its marketing department was earmarked to spearhead this initiative, its hands were tied with other internal objectives. Hence, a partner that understood how to embed an outside-in perspective to facilitate collaboration across teams was imperative. It was also necessary for a partner to bring forth an unbiased customer-first ethos.

Up against those barriers, a mini work session with key stakeholders from marketing and insights helped to crystalize the vision of the work ahead, align on objectives for a department-wide workshop, and craft the central narrative underpinning the breadth and depth of their customer base. Four workshops with over 100 stakeholders brought clarity to the non-rational customer needs and armed stakeholders with a strong understanding of the company’s client-centric vision and their role within it.

Exploring the client journey from the early stages of identified needs to the vision of a transcended relationship provided a framework by which to write the customer into the organization’s DNA. This work was so pivotal to evolving employee mindsets that similar workshops will be conducted to further evangelize client-centric strategies throughout the company.