Hello and welcome to the first article in our new blog series, Consultants’ Corner.
In this first feature I wanted to focus on consumer behaviour; a subject that will always dictate how we grow and adapt our businesses to stay relevant to the people who purchase our services. “Relevancy” has always been a constant for our profession, but how has the current pandemic accelerated the need to stay on our toes when it comes to understanding consumer actions, decision-making processes and expectations?
COVID-19: consuming differently
The prospect, at least for now, is that our economy moving forwards will be shaped by new consumer habits and expectations, driven by the need to reduce close-contact interaction. This will ultimately impact on just about everything, from how we eat, work, shop, exercise, travel, socialise, and spend our free time.
People have already discovered and embraced new ways of living and working, challenging traditional business and lifestyle norms. Seventy year old Deirdre now talks to her grandchildren every afternoon on a video call – whereas prior to COVID-19 the word “Zoom” was perhaps simply an expression for a car driving past at full speed. The meaning of this word has now changed beyond all comprehension, as one of the few ways she can stay connected and spend time with her loved ones.
So why do I mention this story? Well I believe that digital and high-tech solutions are not just to appease us millennials any longer (if that was ever a belief!). In fact, current research suggests that even in the absence of the current COVID-19 threat, people in general are intent on continuing to embrace digital solutions into the future. It seems that the pandemic has bought the ‘future-forward’ somewhat, in terms of how we have been consuming products and services over recent times.
What this means for advisory firms
So with these new norms expected to stretch well beyond this pandemic, for us as an advisory community, we must think about how this impacts on all aspects of our business and the market we operate within.
Already we’ve seen firms adapt with the adoption of video conferencing and a much sharper focus on digital marketing and subsequent lead generation opportunities. The importance of your website as a tool to inform and educate consumers will certainly become a more prominent discussion in your management meetings; delving into analytics to spot trends, conversions and search terms.
There’s also been a rise in how social channels are being used to help consumers navigate and access advice in a world with restrictions in place. I’ve seen a number of firms share the latest government related updates or information to help debunk the myths of which lenders are lending and so on… And of course, all of this content is being filmed from homes and gardens, in a more informal setting and relaxed attire, which feels a bit more human and real. All of this combined, creates a newfound intimacy with consumers and less pretence – at scale.
Looking forward, we’ll need to be hot on our operational processes to a far greater extent too. I heard a phrase recently that really resonated with me – particularly for service-based industries – which was “high tech – high touch”. That is, “I want to buy my house lightning-fast and seamlessly, but can you be there for me every step of the way?”
This clearly separates two areas of value for a customer, the first being the process of the advice and the second being the advice itself. In a nutshell, if you already know your customers love you – you’re actually only half way there… you just need to make sure they love your process too.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog there’s more coming soon as the latest trends emerge through the COVID-19 era.
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