Like a lot of people who grew up in the 1980s, I was awed by the Columbia, Challenger and Discovery space shuttle launches and grew up wanting to be an astronaut.
In fact, I even attended a space camp where I saw a shuttle. One thing you learn quickly about space shuttles (and all aircraft) is that they have mission- critical systems that must function correctly for everything to go right during a flight.
Mission-critical functions include the navigation system that guides the shuttle’s automated flight path and the booster rockets that distribute heat correctly so the rocket is sent skyward instead of rupturing.
In business, advisory firms also have mission-critical items that must function correctly for them to deliver a meaningful customer experience. If any of those critical items are missing or broken, the resulting experience and core value proposition of an advisor’s brand will suffer.
You can help your firm move towards success by identifying the necessary mission-critical items through the use of the acronym STEP.
S = Service
Service is synonymous with your core value proposition.
What core services does your firm offer clients, and how do they bring value to clients?
It’s important to be specific in your definitions. Go beyond “financial planning” and carefully spell out both the methodology and beliefs about financial planning that act as the foundation of your service offering.
If you do not have a structured, clear definition of what you do, all else will fall apart.
T = Trained Team
Hiring the right people is critical for every type of organization, but it’s even more important for a relationship- and advice-driven industry like financial services.
When speaking to advisors, I tell them to hire for attitude, then train for competency. Your employees have to live your firm’s values, and it’s tough to change an individual with a poor attitude.
However, even the most values-aligned employees still need continual training to polish their skills and keep your clients at the top of their priority list.
You need to be continually training yourself and your team. Think of your business as an operating system, like Android or Apple iOS. If you aren’t constantly updating your system, it won’t function properly, your apps will crash, and you’ll open yourself up to security issues.
Keeping your firm’s operating system — your people — up to date and current will also keep your business and customer experience humming.