What Does It Mean to Be “Client-Centric”? A Litmus Test.

“Client-focused” “Client first” “Client-centric”

Whatever you call it, there is perhaps no phrase used where we certainly talk the talk but are yet to truly walk the walk.

In my consulting work I have the privilege and opportunity to sit inside many different advisory firms and observe them up close and personal.  There is a great deal of well-meaning focus on putting the client first in everything they do.

It’s not that they’re not trying, but changing from our traditional models of creating products and then pushing them out through distribution channels to anyone who will buy them — or simply being too focused on what we do and how good we are at doing it versus why we’re doing it — to a truly client-centric model where the client is delivered a set of personalized advice and solutions as part of an ongoing process and journey, based on a deep data-driven and behavioral, empathetic understanding of what matters to them about money and what it can do for them and through an omni-channel approach that lets them engage with you and consume advice they want to is HARD.

And if you made it through that extremely long, run-on sentence — 120 words if you’re counting — then congratulations! And that’s part of the point, it’s not any single thing…you need to have a clear vision and then it is hard work to align all the factors required and execute.  It’s a day-in, day-out effort to model the right behavior and have a culture that welcomes dissent — the gentle or not-so-gentle reminders, “what client problem are we solving for”, “how do we make this easier for clients” and the like.

A Litmus Test

I will be writing more about this and am happy to talk about your efforts to drive client-centricity into your culture and practices and have that inform your needs around data, tools, technology, processes, etc…but for now I’ll give you the simplest Litmus Test I have identified to test your client-focusedness.  I’m going to call it the Spitzner Doctrine because, well, why not?

Here it is.

In your internal meetings, town halls, product development meetings, sales meetings, strategy meetings — you get the picture — WOULD YOU BE COMFORTABLE HAVING CLIENTS LISTEN IN?

And the corollary is, would you be comfortable having journalists listen in?

Try that mindset next time and see where you catch yourself.  I guarantee it will lead to better ideation, better execution and ultimately, better results.  Drop me a note and let me know how it goes!