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A Great Hockey Player Plays Where The Puck Is Going To Be
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Anticipating and closing the customer's loop is critical to businesses that provide complex legal, financial, or management services - and in many other circumstances as well. In managing a multifaceted professional service, there are often downstream tasks relating to compliance, accounting, regulation, or just plain common sense that many firms leave open and unfinished unless the client or third party complains. World-class customer service requires considering the life cycle of the particular service offered and closing every potential loop. You need to anticipate what your customers need over the long term, or it's likely they'll find a reason to go somewhere else. As the famous Wayne Gretzky quote reminds us, "A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be."
You may hire a law firm or online service to incorporate your firm - and they'll overlook telling you that you need to re-register your LLC with the state every two years. A law firm may set up incorporated trust agreements that require a number of compliance steps such as establishing a board of directors - and we've found that the busy partner may overlook or find it inconvenient to explain and follow through on these fine print issues that often are not a priority for the IRS but can become a problem when noticed. Many financial service firms will allocate your investments during your initial meetings and rarely give you more than a cursory annual call to discuss how to reallocate or change strategy in the context of economic cycles and events. Management consultants notoriously spend months analyzing a business client's operations, workforce, and market needs; they develop a sophisticated strategy and a 100-page PowerPoint, hand it over, and then move on to the next client. Even if the contract has expired, imagine the client's delight and gratitude if that management consultant had a process for working with the client twice a year to evaluate implementation and execution.
Anticipating client needs is also a game changer for retail and e-commerce firms. Online shoe retailer Zappos.com is justifiably admired for its anticipation of customer experience. Zappos reflects a key insight into selling footwear. If you buy online, you can never know whether a shoe fits. So Zappos offers free shipping and returns in anticipation of customer anxiety. Nike famously anticipated the lifestyle trend of listening to music in all forms of exercise and added a sensor to its sneakers that would collect data through the runner's iPod and make it available on a Nike+ website where runners can track their times, share progress, compete asynchronously, create charts, and deepen their running experience.
At Texas de Brazil, operations director Sekhri emphasises how important it is to anticipate what guests need: "We've studied what customers expect from a fine-dining experience. Although our cuisine requires a degree of self-service, in every other way we train and retrain at a fine dining standard, and we know what our guests will be concerned about, from getting to the restroom to picking the right wine at the right price. When you truly anticipate their needs, they barely know you're taking care of them; it's seamless."
We anticipate and close loops with every customer. This requires knowing each person's life and professional circumstances, and incorporating those factors in annual or twice-a-year summit meetings where we go over current and long-term decisions connected to estates, trusts, wills, investment strategy, or personal matters such as divorces or deaths in the family. While this is commonplace now, we were early adopters of making all our clients' accounts and investment information available online - and we knew this was important by talking to our clients about how they used information. A recent issue of our newsletter addressed in detail all the challenges associated with estate planning, investment accounts, and digital financial data, where passwords are kept in secret and then unavailable to an estate after the individual passes away. Few firms are looking this closely at this issue. By maintaining this prospective service commitment with established clients, we are able to reinforce our value, refresh our bond, and re-demonstrate our mastery of their financial situation.
A powerful example of this lies in how we at Navigoe respond to a difficult life experience of a client, and find ways to learn from that experience to help current and future clients minimize similar eventualities in the future. One example of this occurred earlier in the 2000s, when a whole new set of privacy laws were set up, called HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rules). Some of the new rules eliminated a hospital's ability to share information about a patient; for example, a major provision protected the privacy of any one 18 years of age or older.
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