How responsive is your business ecosystem?

annikWe live in a digital world, but it is not without a soul, which is why focussing on the client experience is so important.

How responsive is your business ecosystem?  Well firstly, how do you define it? 

One way to define it is a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. I’m guessing that scientific definition isn’t working for you. Put simply, your business ecosystem is all the people, clients, partners and resources in your environment and the way they interact. Importantly, the interaction is interdependent - we all need each other to be successful.

Have you ever stopped to consider how effective that interaction is? If not, then how do you know if it’s effective?

And once you come up with the answers to these questions, why do you need to focus on the interaction in your ecosystem? 

Recently three colleagues and I embarked on a research trip to focus on digital disruption and the opportunities for our industry.  As you have probably concluded, there is a great deal going on in the world of digital when it comes to providing financial guidance. 

Every business we met had laid the foundation of “customer first” in their strategy.  Now there is a difference between “we build this for our customers because that’s what we think they want” and “this was built by our customers”.  This simple nuance leads us to our first insight – ‘evoke emotion’.

People need to feel connected, they need to know they are special and the advice they get from you is about them, not their demographic.  This requires you (or someone in your business) to get a real understanding of your clients, what matters to them as individuals and then delivering that service in a way and channel that creates the most amazing experience.


A comment that struck a chord with me in one of our meetings was “I don’t feel special if I have to come to your office at a particular hour”.

Now I’m not suggesting we return to home appointments, that’s inefficient.  But have you carefully considered the various channels by which your client can get information about themselves from you?  Furthermore, how responsive are you to your clients’ suggestions (assuming you ask for them) to build a more engaging business?

Which brings me to the next insight: ‘remove friction’. 

I, like many others find it very frustrating when it’s clunky to do business with someone.  Complexity and time will get the better of people. Make the complex simple, easy and seamless. 

In practical terms, how interactive is your website?  Is it just used for information or can a client get an answer from you (whether real time or sourcing the solution themselves) in a simple, frictionless way? 

Sometimes people are in a channel and they don’t want to leave it…have you considered ‘click to chat’ or ‘click to call’ as part of your website services?

And whilst we’re on the subject of online communities, the third insight, and one that makes such good sense was ‘provide social context’. 

With respect, how many times have you had this conversation…”your portfolio has done really well compared to the ASX 200” or “the market has underperformed by x percent compared to your portfolio of y percent”?

It’s what we know to be a benchmark, it’s how we sometimes answer that question “compared to what?”

However, we all know that famous BBQ conversation anecdote, people ask their friends, family, social networks and even the taxi driver about where and how they should invest their money OR they use these communities as a frame of reference to check in against how they are doing. 

Create an open environment which connects your clients. 

One clever Silicon Valley entrepreneur we met had created online wealth portfolio cohorts his clients could ‘follow’ that were relevant to their stage of life.  For example…I could follow “40 something year old professional working mothers” or I could follow an expert.  People like to know who’s doing what well in their communities.  Think about your own business, how much value do you get by learning from peers? 

The final insight which I believe underpins the others is ‘amplify positive behaviours’.  Humans are habitual, and habits are hard to change.  Seamlessly amplify positive behaviours to drive small, actionable steps.

One example we saw of this was a company that didn’t get people to ‘save more, but rather spend less’. 

By giving clients tools, knowledge, habitual history and insights on how they spend in a very easy way, the client could make an informed decision on future habits in small, incremental steps that not only impacted their savings but also made them feel good.  This company is providing people with a small, personal triumph every day, they are amplifying positive behaviour.

We live in a digital world, but it is not without a soul. Focussing on a client experience that evokes emotion, removes friction, provides social context and amplifies positive behaviours will create a sustainable business and you will leave a legacy that transcends generations.


Annick Donat is head of strategic growth for BT Financial Group’s Securitor and Licensee Select businesses. She is also responsible for the professional capability program, which includes the advice education strategy.

Annick has held several roles during her 25 year career in financial services including product manager, business development/practice development manager and key account manager.

Her most recent role prior to joining BT Financial Group was national operations manager at MLC.


How responsive is your business ecosystem?
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