How to differentiate from a robot

Financial advisers and brokers are facing a unique set of challenges at the moment, with digital services like robo-advice and comparison sites posing threats to their traditional business models. If you want to survive in this market, you must differentiate yourself – ostensibly either by becoming a specialist in a particular niche, or building your profile as a trusted expert in your wider field. And with the industry generally moving to a fee-for-service model, your success comes down to whether your customers perceive value in your service, and how much.


The typical financial services firm has an onboarding process that caters to internal operational efficiencies but can leave the new client feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, and questioning whether the service will even be worth it. Think long, unwieldy forms with field after field to fill out and reams of fine print to wade through. What if you did it differently? By applying the principles of design thinking – empathy, prototyping and intuitive experiences – you could identify which information is vital for you to extract at each point in the customer journey. You could reduce fine print to the bare essentials (with links to more detail for those who really want it), and create multiple touch points that build human-to-human connection and trust, even if it’s a quick email signed by a real person. Apply these concepts to every interaction your customer has with your business, from your first conversation to the feedback survey you send them months down the line, and you’ll create a painless, completely seamless customer experience.


Customers see the value in your service because they know you empathise with them. You get their needs, because you intuit them and respond quickly. It’s about letting them know you’re on their side, and making your interactions as simple and pleasurable as possible. So everyone can get back to business.


That’s where design thinking creates value that stands an excellent fighting chance against the robots.

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