Turnkey Asset Management Programs (TAMPs), and other key third-party service providers looking to attract new advisors, often focus on marketing their individualized service model, emphasizing the one-on-one relationships and the personal touch they can provide. Of course, this kind of custom service offering is a critical component to attracting new advisors and retaining existing ones. However, a less frequently discussed (but equally important) tactic is providing advisors with excellent and customized service at scale. This involves leveraging technology that allows service teams to efficiently address advisor inquiries and making available intuitive self-service measures that give advisors the tools they need to operate on the platform autonomously. It also means establishing well-documented processes and using key performance metrics to measure and optimize service staff efficiency. Investing in these efforts empowers third-party platforms to continue offering high-quality service to every advisor, even as the platform materially grows.
One key way to efficiently and accurately serve advisors is to develop a comprehensive knowledge database of potential platform requests and inquiries with corresponding articles that outline how to effectively respond. Doing so will allow the staff handling incoming inquires to quickly identify an advisor’s business needs and confidently provide a clear solution, as opposed to determining the best course of action each time. This gives the advisors a consistent service experience regardless of the service team member who answers their call. Having a knowledge database in place also aids in efficiently training and onboarding new service team members, which is crucial to not only achieving scale, but also adjusting staffing levels quickly as volumes change. Integrated client-recognition technologies can be used to further streamline and customize the service experience, quickly identifying callers and providing staff with an immediate online record of an advisor’s past inquiries and platform interactions. This saves advisors time as they don’t need to provide context or re-explain a previous issue, and the service representative can efficiently address their need.
An even better way to increase advisor and platform efficiency is to arm advisors with intuitive self-service measures. To do so effectively, it is crucial for service providers to understand the most common activities that advisors execute on behalf of their clients. For example, a third-party platform should proactively provide online, step-by-step account maintenance guided support, FAQs and processing timeline information, and a tracking center that provides real-time updates on the status of each request to help advisors efficiently maintain accounts and troubleshoot simple problems.
A third-party platform can also create a scalable business model by using technology to optimize staff efficiency. One way to do so is to leverage capacity modeling, call volume tracking and visual management technology that captures (1) the number of calls made to the platform at various intervals throughout the day, week and months during the year, (2) the corresponding number of staff members required to answer each of those calls in a timely fashion, and (3) a clear view for the entire team to know how many calls are in queue and how many available service associates are ready to answer them. Over time, a third-party platform will have the metrics available to predict call volume and ensure appropriate staffing to serve advisors at every interval throughout the day and during the busiest times of the year. These metrics also allow a service provider to efficiently arrange shifts and provide time off during less active periods. Lastly, the visual management allows service team members to quickly know if they are needed to answer incoming calls, or whether they can make proactive outbound calls to further deepen their relationships with their advisors.
A few additional technologies that are beginning to be used more are online chat and co-browsing features. With online chats, an advisor can type a simple question to a staff member and it can be answered quickly and efficiently without having to pick up the phone. Service team members can typically have multiple chat sessions active at one time, further increasing efficiency for both the advisor and the platform. With co-browsing, a third-party staff member can remotely share his/her computer screen with an advisor and fully demonstrate how to use the platform technology, properly complete an online form or resolve an issue. As service providers continue leveraging technology to serve advisors in the ways they want to engage, these platforms will also find their business models becoming increasingly scalable.
There’s no question that third-party platforms should strive to provide individualized service to advisors. In fact, when you leverage great technology tools, not only can you efficiently serve more advisors, but you also create the capacity to allow for more proactive and individualized service engagement. Fortunately, third-party platforms can leverage and integrate a variety of technologies to efficiently resolve advisors’ requests, offer intuitive self-service measures and optimize staff levels while continuing to provide high-touch service seamlessly. Doing so will benefit advisors’ businesses overall and will allow platforms to attain comprehensive and individualized service at scale.
Carrie Hansen is EVP and Chief Operating Officer of AssetMark, a provider of investment and consulting solutions serving financial advisors.