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Please Don't Shoot the Customer, Part 3

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Posted August 27, 2002 By Arthur O'Connor     Feedback

Customer profitability management: the trends, case studies, and solutions. Last of a three-part series.

This is the final installment of a three-part series on customer profitability management.

To recap part one, though many businesses see changing customer mix as the key to improving profitability -- attracting big accounts and shunning smaller clients -- smarter businesses are learning to streamline internal costs and make employees more effective, to profitably handle all types of customers.

In part two, we looked at a case study of a private client group of a major securities brokerage firm with too many marginal customers that were too expensive to service. In the final part of the series, we'll consider a new concept: workflow solutions for knowledge workers.

Management Job No. 1: Workflow

Perhaps the single most important role of management is to communicate to employees what business practices work best and help them adopt best practices to be successful.

Though businesses provide employee portals to make available vast stores of information and desktops to access a broad range of functionality, most leave it up to employees to search for the right information and figure out which tasks are most critical to successfully achieve their objectives.

These tools do not address workflow. Employees are left to their own devices to determine what's important on any given day. They assess how they're doing relative to their objectives and expectations.

Wealth Management Workstation

For the retail brokerage and private banking industry, we developed a wealth management solution that integrates CRM, financial planning, market data, news, and other applications to streamline the financial advisory workflow. This consists of gathering client information, conducting needs analysis, and building the right portfolio model. It automates many processes, including portfolio rebalancing, and trade order management and execution.

By enabling and automating new business processes, financial advisors can more efficiently and effectively create and deliver value-added investment recommendations. They have more time to do what investment managers should do: build relationships and deliver value.

Role of Instant Messaging

Marketers have touted instant messaging (IM) as an effective channel for real-time customer interaction. Perhaps its most near-term, practical application is within the enterprise as a collaborative workflow tool.

By employing IM technologies, the financial advisor and client relationships can be effectively triangulated via real-time, collaborative workflows. A financial customer service rep is the primarily contact.

The financial advisor stays involved for client portfolio reviews and specific investment recommendations, but the financial customer service rep is the primary contact. The rep handles all day-to-day statement, billing, and form-processing tasks. This can significantly lower the cost to serve smaller clients.

Agree? Don't agree? Got an interesting insight, opinion, or real-world example to share? What are your thoughts? Please write me at Arthur.oconnor@reuters.com.

Reprinted from ClickZ.

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