Gaining competitive advantage through service excellence

Customer Service Business First Magazine

Before becoming the managing director at CMC Markets, I worked in several teams within the global financial services business, building an exemplary knowledge of the products and services the successful company offers, and the industry it fits within.

Understanding what our customers want is the first step to ensuring they feel a deep sense of satisfaction in their dealings with us. As a trading company we have a mix of customers with a diverse set of needs – through understanding those individual client needs, we are able to build the company and a strategy around delivering outcomes that satisfy those needs, ultimately encouraging repeat business.

I believe every business leader should ask themselves: is there an opportunity to increase revenue if we significantly improve our client service offering?

In this article I will share how you can keep your finger on the pulse of your business and future-proof it against competing forces, by putting the customer experience front and centre of your business strategy.

Evaluate and improve

Feedback should always be considered a gift. It enables you to make informed choices about how you can improve aspects of your business that may need work. Most importantly you should take action based on that feedback. This is something that I’ve recently undertaken, when client feedback reflected a need to improve our client service offering.

What followed was an intense review process which led to the implementation of an 18-month service strategy that was designed to bring about customer-centric changes to all areas of our business. Essentially, we needed to make it easier for our customers to do business with us, or we risked losing them to competitors.

Growing pains

The review focused on four clear areas of customer communication which needed to be addressed: written, verbal, visual and aural as this encompassed all mediums we used to communicate with customers such as website, via phone and emails. Each area had its own KPIs and measures of success, which fed into the overarching strategy of ‘making it easy for the customer’. This initiative was a holistic approach, which gave us the opportunity to fix the issues that were consistently stopping us from reaching our full potential as a business.

The solutions we implemented ranged from geographical relocation of key teams in the service value chain; improved technical support; and, intensive product training. Most importantly we established a customer service manager to drive standards and benchmark staff against clear, personalised KPIs, which we’ve established above existing industry standards.

Today, our customers are happier, our staff feel empowered, and the business has achieved stand-out performance status, all to the delight of our head office in London.

Resourcing Change

Being an online business, our customer needs often change with advances in technology. Therefore, we consistently reshape our offering around those evolving needs. For example: after building a market-leading online trading platform from the ground up, we knew there was a growing trend for traders to use laptops, smartphones, or tablets to initiate or track trades through the day. For us, that meant further investment in mobile technology, which allowed us to further grow our market position and bolster our brand as the market leader in innovative solutions. Today approximately 50% of our trades are done over mobile and that will only increase.

Another example where we have responded to the needs of a key group within our customer base is the establishment of our sales trading team, who assist high net worth clients via a ‘bespoke’ service. As an online value-based trading company this was a significant move for us, and one that has successfully met the distinct needs of these important customers.

Industry barometers

I strongly believe industry trackers are a great tool to give companies vital insights into brand health, customer sentiment and satisfaction. They provide early warning signs, tip trends and can demonstrate who is leading the industry. Whether they provide quarterly or annual updates on industry performance and competitiveness, they are a vital barometer for all stakeholders to understand the status quo. Naturally, companies that act upon analysis of these findings will be better placed to understanding their industry and its customer needs.

Since our strategic review and suite of improvements, the business is in great shape when industry trackers shine a spotlight on our offering. In the most recent Investment Trends industry tracker report customers give us a large increase of 17 per cent in our net promoter score or advocacy rating, and there has been a significant reduction in the number of clients switching to another provider, assisting us to maintain our strong market share position.

Importance of social media

A core component of our client service offering is delivering education tools and we do this very effectively via digital channels and social media, which are scalable and cost effective. We know education delivers a real need in the trader community. It provides us with an additional feedback channel. And, it demonstrates to our customers that we have the smarts to accurately analyse the markets to help them make good trading and investment decisions. This has a reaffirming effect creating stickiness, or loyalty with our current customer base, and it also continues to increase the number of traders who sign up for our service.

Today, as a business, we are confident that our clients are happy with the service we offer – and the recent positive results speak for themselves. As a business leader, I am focused on our diverse set of clients’ ever-changing needs, so we can continue to go above and beyond their expectations and deliver service excellence. BFM

Matthew Lewis is Head of CMC Markets Asia Pacific. CMC Markets Stockbroking is a participant of the ASX Group and is regulated by ASIC in Australia.

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