Charles Schwab earned the highest score for investment firms in the 2012 Temkin Experience Ratings.
To understand how the company made it to the top of the ratings, we spoke with Troy Stevenson, Vice President, Client Loyalty & Consumer Insight.
According to Stevenson “Our strategy is to operate our business through the clients’ eyes. Make every decision through the lens of how it influences clients and the client experience. That helps us avoid the temptation of short-term profits from things like junk fees that might result in long-term harm to the brand.”
A key element of Schwab’s CX efforts is its Net Promoter Score program that it calls “Client Promoter Score” or CPS. Stevenson told me that “It’s not about a specific question, but a system where we are constantly seeking feedback and setting aggressive metrics. And use the insight to find patterns, gaps, and opportunities for improvement” (see post: 9 Recommendations For NPS).
Schwab definitely takes CPS seriously. In a recent letter from CEO Walt Bettinger to shareholders, Bettinger included a discussion of CPS. Here’s an excerpt:
CPS is a simple measure of how well we’re doing at earning that level of loyalty and advocacy from our clients. When CPS is strong, we know our clients are recommending Schwab to their friends, family, and acquaintances — and that is the most direct measure of whether our client-focused strategy is working successfully.
Stevenson stressed the value of listening to client verbatims, saying that “There’s no subsitute for employees reading through unadulterated client comments. They explain what needs to change and how they need to change.”
While Stevenson’s team of 22 people (8 are focused on the CPS program) does analysis of cross-organization topics (like affluent consumers), a critical goal is to put the information in the hands of the people that understand different parts of the business (see post: Market Research Needs An Overhaul). Stevenson’s team organizes verbatims by themes and topics and then puts them in the hands of the appropriate people across the company. He estimates that thousands of people read the verbatims including every branch and call center team.
According to Stevenson, Schwab leadership consistently communicates about client experience and makes decisions that are aligned through clients’ eyes. That creates a culture where employees are empowered to treat clients well. The company also uses a “healthy dose of client experience improvement within its compensation.” The four or five major businesses within Schwab each have their own CPS score that is used for employee goals.
According to Stevenson, Schwab’s client experience efforts are: “Not just about making the website snazzier, but we want to make Schwab easier to do business with, find ways for clients to be more effective investors, and get phone agents and branch employees to act with more empathy and caring.”
That’s a great goal for just about anyone’s CX efforts.
The bottom line: Looking through your clients’ eyes can be enlightening