Are You Happy? The Secret Killer of Employee & Customer Experiences
I want to start this article by asking a rather profound question: Are you happy?
Whether you feel that these three words constitute a profound question or not, have a think about it for a moment. If it is not a question that you can answer quickly, then it warrants greater time to consider. I meet a lot of people as I travel around the world – I rarely ask them this question. However, very often, the people I meet are anything but happy – especially when it comes to the working aspect of their lives.
As human beings, we spend most our lives at work. Even though I now work for myself, much of my career was spent working for others.
One thing that has stuck with me, as both business owner and employee, is that stress and anxiety has a profound effect on my behaviour, my business performance, my friends and perhaps most significantly, my family.
Many of us will be affected by varying degrees of stress and anxiety during our lifetimes – some of us are affected more than others.
Yet despite this fact, the way we ‘feel’ as human beings at work is not commonly spoken about. In fact, I would argue that simply acknowledging or even ‘admitting’ a level of stress or anxiety is still considered a weakness… or a ‘taboo’.
Today, the pressure on men and women all over the world increases on an almost annual basis.
Creating and maintaining a quality of life that balances both personal and career goals is ever more challenging. In our working lives, businesses and organisations just appear to want more and more from us, while giving back less and less. The result is stress and anxiety – although I see another key effect happening as well.
There is absolutely no doubt that the stress and anxiety being felt by millions of working people is having a hugely detrimental effect on BOTH employee and customer experiences. The longer this fact goes unnoticed or unaddressed, the worse it will be for all of us. Stress and anxiety is prevalent at all levels – from CEOs to front line staff – the sense of unabating pressure is immense. Some people can manage their stress and anxiety – others not. Some get angry and shout. Others hide away and avoid confrontation. Much of the time, people just shut off their minds and stop thinking, preferring to focus on simple completion of tasks. The majority also stop talking, keeping their stress and anxiety to themselves, whilst taking out their frustration on everyone close to them – and sometimes even their customers.
I myself have felt this way – angry; upset; frustrated; scared; confused – there have been times in my career when I thought I was the only one. For many years, I never talked about the way I felt. I had regular moans and groans about the way I was being treated by my superiors – but don’t we all! However, it was very uncommon for me to actually talk about how I was feeling – that knowledge was locked firmly inside my head!
Towards the end of my employed career, this situation changed. I was fortunate enough to be part of a management development programme. During that period of my life, I was introduced to a chap called Mark Thompson – a man who ended up becoming a transformational mentor of mine. Mark was the first person I talked to about my career. Mark was also the first person who listened. What I learned about myself has stuck with me ever since.
Human beings never stop learning – about things and about themselves. To understand if we are happy or not, we need to be able to talk openly and honestly about the way we feel, so we can have the confidence to make decisions that benefit us. Today, I am happier in my career than I have ever been – in February, I will have been running my own business for five years – an achievement I am immensely proud of. However, that does not mean I do not feel stress and anxiety as much as when I was employed. In fact, I would argue I feel more stress and anxiety now than I did then!!
That is why I am still talking – a brilliant mentor called David Downes now has the pleasure of listening, guiding and coaching me to feel confident about the things I do – my time with him is invaluable. Talking with David allows me time to think – time to reflect – time to reassess. Time with David allows me to appreciate the things I do, whilst understanding what I might consider doing to make me and those around me ever happier.
As my own boss, I have decided to invest time and money in looking after me. I could still do far more to ensure the same for my family – but I am working on that. By investing in me in this way, I can be more productive, effective and useful for my clients. Therefore, I believe that all companies – however big or small – should be doing the same. Stress and anxiety is having a direct effect on interactions with employees and customers alike. Companies have a responsibility to look after their own people – and not just their wallets – but also their minds.
So, ask yourself a slightly different question:
Are your colleagues happy?
If the answer to this is “no”, or “I’m not sure”, then do something about it – and quickly. Let them talk. Let them be listened to. Let them learn. Making our people happier will immediately make our customers happier – the Return on Investment could not be clearer.
Am I happy? Yes… but. There is always one of those. I am incredibly lucky to have now found my vocation. I love what I do for a living. Yet my working life is just part of the puzzle. I will keep on talking and learning – and encouraging others to talk and listen to. We must never be scared to open up about the way we feel – we must admire the courage of those who do and help others to do so as well. Don’t let stress and anxiety kill the experiences of your employees. Do something about it before they kill the experiences of your customers.
Capturing the Attention of Millennials: Be Relevant and Digital
I know Gen Y are stereotyped as being transient, digital natives who are impossible to capture, but that is just the world we live in today. Technology has caused a proliferation of advancements and the financial services industry is (or should be) feeling the pressure. We have seen the rise of the robos, fee compression, virtual advisors, and various regulatory changes, all culminating to challenge financial advisors to find ways to cut through the noise to demonstrate their value.
Developing an effective marketing and lead generation process that’s tailored to millennials is vital for two key reasons:
- It’s the only way you’re ever going to capture their attention
- It’s the only way your business can remain profitable serving this demographic
Let’s be honest; there is a bit of an over-hype and obsession with millennials right now (don’t get me wrong, I’m obviously a fan). Nearly every business is starting to ask itself, “How do we capture this next generation?” And they’re spending tons of time and resources devoted to this one demographic. So think about all the different emails, social media and digital advertising you’re competing with, even beyond just the financial services industry. Whatever you put out there will have to be niche to their needs in order to capture their attention – and will have to feel authentic if you want to build enough trust to get them to engage.
As you begin to assess your ability (or desire) to serve younger investors, the question about profitability will inevitably come up. The traditional marketing advisors do today for their HNW investors is just not an effective or profitable way to target millennials. No COIs, business networking, client events, newsletters – that takes up way too much of your time. Instead, you should take a more scalable approach using digital marketing and messaging that actually resonates with your intended target market. Serving millennials should not be a loss leader; that’s exactly why segmenting and tailoring your marketing will be vital with this demographic.
Bringing it back to our friends Marg, Chip and Drew
In order to assess what type of marketing will effectively capture the attention of our three millennial personas, we need to answer these questions:
- What are their aspirations?
- What are their problems?
- When is the best time (in their lives) to capture their attention?
Marg seems to be more reactive and short-sighted, only seeking advice when there’s a triggering event causing her stress. Chip and Drew tend to have relatively similar characteristics, which you’ll notice quite a bit throughout our research. Aside from income, assets and debt levels, Chip and Drew tend to have the same needs and preferences. This means that you can take a relatively similar marketing approach in terms of messaging, but you’ll need a slightly different approach for each party later on, when we get into fees and service models.
Chip and Drew tend to be a little more financially mature than Marg; they look at longer-term goals and aspirations. The only exception would be that, when it comes to how these three define financial success, they all answered, “Having enough savings to retire when I want” as their top choice.
With the goal of tailoring your marketing messaging and approach to effectively engage these different segments, here are our recommended approaches.
Marketing to Marg
Topical blog posts and social media are the way to go. Even though Marg might not be ready for or in need of your professional advice quite yet, you can still find scalable, automated ways to prospect her (with the long-term goal of eventually capturing her once she becomes more like Chip and Drew). The key is to identify those triggers that cause Marg to seek help and find a way to insert yourself into the picture through digital marketing.
Writing a blog with topical posts that address key questions or issues that Marg might Google or research in her time of need is a great starting point. Think of blog titles like: A 5-Step Guide to Building a Budget, What to Do When You Have Credit Card Debt, and How to Improve Your Credit Score. Even though blogging might feel like it takes a lot of initial effort putting together the content, once it’s written, it can be leveraged in so many ways that you can actually realize a return on that investment of your time.
One blog post can be broken down into 10-20 different social media posts, posted on many different social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.), and can be used for months after the blog goes live. And, over time, that content will accumulate and improve your website’s visibility in search engines (that’s search engine optimization) to increase visitors and visits from people like Marg.
Marketing to Chip and Drew
Build a targeted marketing campaign focused on life event planning. Retirement is still a very important issue when it comes to emerging wealth prospects like Chip and Drew. Not only do they define financial success as the ability to retire when they want, they also cite retirement planning as the top financial issue they want more help with. However, big life events are the key trigger for Chip and Drew to take action on their finances. And so the key to capturing these millennials is by striking at the peak of their interest – when these life events happen.
But before you can market messaging and content specifically focused on life events like marriage, first-home purchase, first child, and change of career, you have to first address any potential branding issues. If you’re serious about wanting to engage this group, your brand and website cannot be hyper-focused on traditional financial advisor themes like retirement, investing and wealth management. Expand your current brand or create a separate brand geared to this demographic that focuses on financial planning for life events (which can still include retirement as one key component). Then build topical messaging and content that plays to each life event, like “3 Financial Musts After Having Your First Child.”
If you’re fully committed, you could even take it a step further by implementing marketing that specifically targets millennials going through specific life events. For example, you could pay to promote social media posts or ads that only target millennials between the ages of 28-30, the average age most millennials are getting married . Maybe you purchase ads on blogs or other websites like The Knot for newlyweds or The Bump for new parents. You could also identify social influencers who blog or speak about life events and other topics affecting your target market and look for cross-promotional opportunities. The more targeted your marketing and content, the more likely you are to cut through the noise and capture millennial attention.
This brings me to a key point
Marg, Chip and Drew are not niches; they are merely personas representing 3 key segments within the millennial cohort. However, niche marketing is a very powerful tool that should not be overlooked when discussing effective ways to market to Gen Y. The more niche your content and targeted your advertising approach, the more effective your marketing will become in grabbing their attention. Case in point: A 33-year-old dentist is much more likely to click on something titled “Dos and Don’ts of Tackling Debt from Dentistry School” than a generic title like “Dos and Don’ts of Tackling Student Loans.” You want millennials to feel your content to is talking specifically to them – and that you’re a resource who understands the needs and issues of people just like them.
To those advisors who still aren’t really interested in serving millennials, but are using this series as an opportunity to review industry trends – this niche thing is not just for millennials; it can be an effective marketing tactic to use with all generations of all ages. There are so many changes going on right now in financial services that can confusion among investors and muddle your value proposition as a financial advisor. Recent technical innovation has caused a proliferation of many different business models in our industry. You’ve always competed with DIY platforms, but now (whether you like it or not), you’re being compared to robo and virtual advisors who likely spend a lot more on digital marketing and targeting than your traditional advisor. That’s why niche marketing can play a key role in helping you to cut through this noise and grab the attention of potential prospects (no matter what age they might be).
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