Fish and chips, technology and customer experience.

Holiday time. I’m a happy boy as I’m in Cape Town, a city I know pretty well having luckily visited many times in the past.

Time to unwind, recharge the batteries and find some me time away from running my very busy wealth management business. Being a Brit some holiday sun goes down really well at this time of year too after our winter.

Great food and wine and the chance to catch up with local friends and chat about local things as well as, inevitably with entrepreneur types, a bit of business. My friends work in the tech space, particularly website, digital experience and UI design. As the CEO of a wealth management company who regularly uses the services of a great web and app design company, Supernice, owned and operated by some of those present as part of our digital strategy much of the discussions were around what clients wanted from a wealth manager and how technology could help.

So rather predictably I guess we ended up having a great, rather Chenin Blanc fuelled, discussion about the client experience interface between digital and face to face.

I am one of the first to admit that the investor has often been let down by the financial services sector in the past and to some extent still is. An ongoing lack of transparency, jargon designed to confuse, poor promises often under delivered, opaque contract terms – the list just goes on despite the best intentions of the better firms. However, nor am I entirely convinced that the much trumpeted robo-advice is the full answer either.

I should admit here that despite not having any background in it I do like tech and believe that it will end up doing great things for the clients of my sector in general and if I get my strategy right my clients in particular.

This belief means that I know I drive the guys at Supernice slightly nuts with my constant browsing of Product Hunt, Muzli and other similar sites and coming up with loads of questions and use cases for much of what I see. From client conferencing, to proposals, to portfolio management, portfolio valuations and presentations the possibilities appear endless and really exciting on to improve how we can interact with and inform our clients.

We wrapped up talking how technology and innovation could and should be the way forward for wealth management client service when combined with great professional advice and investment management. A night of live music and more drinking ensued, well I am on holiday!

As I said I’m here in South Africa and back in Cape Town again. The restaurant scene here is really vibrant and I love to eat out so have been lucky enough to eat in some great restaurants again whilst here. It’s a real treat visiting new places but also going back to places I have been before and had great meals and service.

So I found myself back eating fish and chips at the fantastic Brass Bell in Kalk Bay watching the waiters do their stuff with quiet style and I found myself mentally returning to the topic of customer service and reflecting on my client experience discussions.

“This place just has it nailed in customer proposition terms!

Despite not being particularly smart, well signposted and entered through a vaguely off-putting rail track underpass this place just has it nailed in customer proposition terms. Although it is worth mentioning that once you do get to the restaurant there are great sea views at The Brass Bell.

Each and every time I come I am wowed by the consistency of service, food and atmosphere. The waiting staff are always extremely professional and knowledgable about the menu and wines, really friendly and the seafood is fantastically well prepared.

I contrasted this restaurant to another I visited again this trip which had moved in a couple of short years from sublime to borderline at best. Both the standard of cooking and of waiting staff had dropped dramatically although interestingly their prices hadn’t. Other restaurants previously visited which had been at the top of their game with great reputations had disappeared completely. This despite great locations, big budget fit-outs, really smart looking staff and up to the minute front of house restaurant technology.

“It’s obviously all about consistency.

So why does the not-so smart business survive year after year without the best location, latest food trend, cutting edge technology and continue to attract customers day after day after day?

What can I learn from The Brass Bell team for my own business? I concluded it’s obviously all about consistency.

Sheer consistency of product, of preparation and delivery, in staff training and knowing exactly what customers want and value and will keep coming back for. Whichever restaurant or any type of business for that matter to succeed in the customer attraction and retention game they must be seen to display and deliver this consistency in everything they do.

Simple truths but they have proven historically hard to deliver with any real consistency across financial services. Sure, we can look to new technology to assist us interact and engage with clients. Sure, the brave new digital world can help us explain and educate. However, despite my love for technology I just had to conclude over my fish and chips that consistency of purpose, in professional standards, delivered with honesty and integrity will continue to be the main course in my business.


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