How to build a team of trusted advisors in five easy steps.
As a service-based company, you have a distinct advantage when it comes to building customer loyalty: Your employees have numerous chances every day to meet and liaise with customers and this can present a significant opportunity for your firm.
Field workers who have the right support and training can become ‘trusted advisors’, who can improve trust and end up building the customer loyalty you need for repeat business and increased sales.
So, what exactly is a trusted advisor and what does a field worker need to become one?
What are ‘trusted advisors’?
Trusted advisors are remote, client-facing workers that are carefully selected, trained and nurtured to become ambassadors for your service values and brand.
As well as being highly skilled in their own field of expertise, trusted advisors are selected on their willingness and ability to work as an intermediary between the company and the client.
Through involving them with the customer satisfaction journey and giving them the tools and training they need to thrive, they are able to implement the customer standards outlined by the company at all times. Yet with the right reporting structure in place, they are also able to provide customer insights by feeding back unique on-site knowledge about customers’ thoughts, feelings and experiences to the broader business.
You may be keen to implement a trusted advisor scheme at your firm. If so, here are five steps to help you on your way.
1. Go for the low hanging fruit
Make life easy for yourself by identifying the field workers who are most capable of becoming trusted advisors. Initially, it may only amount to the top 10% of staff but singling out the engineers and technicians who have the right attitude to customer service in the first place will make the process of building your trusted advisor team faster.
Look for field workers who are already developing good relationships with their clients. Sales people should begin reporting back on the feedback they get when booking appointments with clients. Which engineers get asked for by name? Whose work gets commented on most often?
Check HR records and ask around different departments to find out more about your workforce. Who, for instance, are involved in people-based activities outside of work? Is anyone consistently meeting or beating their targets? Finding individuals with a positive work ethic and who have a people-centric attitude should clearly be on the ‘trusted advisor radar’.
2. Communicate the ‘Vision’
With individuals identified, clearly communicate what you are trying to achieve by discussing your customer-loyalty objectives so they can grasp the ‘bigger picture’ and understand what you are aiming to achieve.
Creating a quality policy that clearly sets out a code of conduct and the procedures your trusted advisors are expected to follow will help them understand the implications of their actions and the effect they will have on the overall objectives. This can really help invest them further in their new role and responsibilities.
Furthermore, involve your trusted advisors when setting clear, achievable targets as part of their appraisal process. That way, progress can be measured, improved and rewarded.
3. Make reducing customer effort the goal.
Rather than putting unnecessary pressure on your team to work harder to please, make reducing customer effort the goal.
Hold a workshop with your team to map out the customer journey as a means of identifying opportunities to reduce effort and reduce bottlenecks that could be putting customers off.
The teams unique insight will help them improve the customer experience at every touchpoint and help retain and convert customers by making it smooth and efficient.
4. Get the right reporting tools.
When up to speed, a trusted advisor should be able to spot and report back on a myriad of opportunities that will have an impact on your business. The tools they have to log conversations make recommendations and report back on any issues quickly and efficiently are imperative to success.
For instance, if a customer has had a poor experience making an online booking on your website, it’s highly likely they will tell their engineer when they turn up to site to complete the work. Without a reporting system in place whereby an engineer can easily feed this information back to the marketing team, the issue could go unreported and you may end up losing business as a result.
Voice recording technology, for instance, can automatically upload feedback directly into client portals so that your trusted advisors avoid having to type out lengthy conversations into their phone or tablets.
With feedback uploaded automatically to a central access point, other teams in your business can then access valuable insight that will help them make more informed decisions and further improve the customer experience.
5. Keep things consistent.
The aim of the game is to provide a consistent service to your customers so they are satisfied with the service they have received at ever touchpoint. Trusted advisors therefore need a clear set of instructions, guidelines and processes in place that are accessible at all times.
A customer-focused client portal management system will make life easy for your team. If your employees are familiar with Microsoft products such as Outlook, word and Excel then we recommend considering Microsoft Cloud solutions such as SharePoint or Microsoft Dynamics 365, which will seamlessly integrate with your existing systems.
This can also help you to reduce costs as many of the out-of-the-box features can be tailored to your processes saving on expensive custom development.
Graham Tarrant is business management solutions consultant at EcoBytes. He uses his expertise in ISO 9001 and business management systems to improve customer loyalty for his clients, with the intention of making their business lives better.
Find out more about rolling out consistent service levels in our free downloadable guide into building customer loyalty.
Or contact EcoBytes today to find out more about how we can help you improve consistency at your firm in order to realise your business goals.