In my two previous blogs I have focused my attention on how the use of technology can aid an adviser in the way they conduct business. Likewise, when designing technology for use by advisers it is perhaps natural to focus on their needs and those of their lender and product provider partners. The downside of this approach however is it often ignores the most important party to any transaction, the customer.
We all understand that sales processes are designed to ensure clients receive the best possible advice and the technology used should aid the provision of that advice but in doing so should help the customer stay fully engaged and avoid the need for repetitive information requests and time spent watching the adviser complete endless screens on their computer.
Also from a customer perspective, information and accessibility to that information is vital and when we are talking about such important matters as a mortgage going through or a house purchase completing, then it is understandable that customers want to keep abreast of all developments. Ensuring they are kept fully informed can often be time-consuming for the adviser and frustrating for the customer when they cannot immediately get the information they require.
Lenders and solicitors, to be fair to them, have improved their ability to provide advisers with ongoing information on a case. Yes, of course, we still hear many complaints from advisers who have been left on hold waiting to be given a progress update via the phone, but at the same time we do now have vast numbers of case-tracking systems which should be able to give us an up-to-date record of what stage the case is at. Some even provide more detailed information and I think there’s a growing recognition of advisers’ technology requirements and the exact information they want (and need) to access.
Whether there is such a recognition from advisers in terms of consumer/client requirements and their need to be kept in the loop, is perhaps a moot point. In my experience, it would certainly make all our lives easier (particularly advisers) if they could direct their clients to a system to input information, verify details, check a case status, etc rather than having to answer multiple calls and e-mails. Go on any adviser forum and you will be able to read some truly eye-watering experiences from advisers who have been inundated with tens and tens of enquiries from clients throughout the course of the case.
To our mind, it was also important with the system we developed to be able to offer advisers access to technology that could be used by them and their clients. With Revolution, for example, clients can access their case to see the progress of their transaction and they are able to see (and receive) exactly the same updates which come to their adviser.
As stated above, it is also useful at a point before the adviser has even seen the client, allowing them to input all the relevant information, capture and save it, offering a great time-saving to both adviser and client when the first interview is underway. This use of technology at the start of the process ultimately speeds up the transaction time overall and aids all stakeholders particularly in terms of electronic submission and ongoing communication. Plus, from a network point of view, when we’re looking at ensuring client protection we’re able to follow the trail of the advice right from the start of the process and ensure it complies with all rules and regulations, and the client was fully aware of what they were signing up to.
Therefore, while most advisory practices are utilising technology in many varied ways to support the business, perhaps there is a further opening to aid client relationships and continue to take some of the administrative strain off. It can also further place clients at the centre of operations and allow them to be kept in the information loop throughout. Ultimately, this will help with efficiencies, keep clients on side and should feed through into ongoing referrals. A win-win-win for all concerned.