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In This Issue
Communicating Your Competitive Advantage
Customer and Employee Satisfaction
Competing to Win
SCS e-xpress Jan/Feb 2010
A Message from Sarah & Chris:

The theme of this issue is "competitive advantage."            buildings
 
The retirement services industry is becoming increasingly commoditized.  To compete effectively, TPAs and other retirement services firms must be able to specifically and easily articulate the reasons why customers and referral sources should choose their firm.  What does your firm do best?  What sets your firm apart from the competition?  How can those unique differences be quantified?
                                            
Institutional providers must also strive to effectively distinguish their products and services.  One way that financial institutions can gain credibility is by credentialing their retirement services employees and promoting their commitment to education as a sign of service excellence.

As you read on, think about how you can more clearly identify and communicate your firm's competitive advantages. 

We hope you enjoy the first edition of our free SCS e-newsletter.  Please let us know what you think and be sure to send us your ideas and suggestions for future issues.  
 
Have a great day! 
Where We'll Be
NTSAA National Conference
Indian Wells, CA
01/27/10 - 01/30/10
 
Matrix U Workshop
Hollywood, FL
02/21/10 - 02/23/10
 
The ASPPA 401(k) Summit
Orlando, FL
03/14/10 - 03/16/10
 
TPA Select Study Group Meeting
New Orleans, LA
05/13/2010 - 05/14/10
 
San Antonio, TX 
06/02/10 - 06/04/10
 
Today's Tip
 
Start off the new year right and stay up-to-date! 
 
Subscribe  to Sal Tripodi's two quarterly newsletters - "ERISA Views" and "eRISA Update."                
 
 
Today's Quotes
 
"An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage."
 
 "If you don't have a competitive advantage - don't compete!"
 
- Jack Welch,
Former CEO of General Electric
 
Today's Laughs
 
"A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing." 

- Emo Phillips, Comedian  
 
"Duct tape is like the force.  It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together." 
 
       - Carl Zwanzig
 numbers-percents 
Communicating
Your Competitive Advantage
Numbers Matter!

Learn to communicate your competitive advantages using meaningful numbers.  Retirement services firms will often include a statement in their marketing materials like "We offer excellent customer service."  Replacing this generic statement with a real quantifiable statistic creates a much more memorable image that clearly communicates a competitive advantage.  How about this statement instead?  "In a recent survey, 100% of our customers said they would refer us to another firm."  Wow - that's powerful! 
 
Here are some other examples of numbers that should matter to you because they matter to your prospects and customers:  
  • 100% of our lead administrators hold ASPPA credentials;
  • 95% of email requests and telephone questions are resolved in the same day;
  • 90% of our participant distributions are processed through our paperless system within 48 hours.  
You can identify other numerical statistics by conducting a survey of your customers and referral sources.  With today's inexpensive tools, an email survey is a great economical way to solicit feedback.  It is important, however, that the survey content be brief and to the point to encourage participation.  Since the questions must be structured in the best manner possible to collect the information you need, it is often advisable to use a consultant to conduct the survey for you so you can stay focused on what you do best - running your business. 
 
Once the survey information is tallied and analyzed, publicize the survey results to the respondents.  Include positive and negative results to encourage continued participation in future surveys.  Use the results to communicate your competitive advantages and to let your customers know your plans to improve your services.  
charts-bar people 
 Customer and Employee Satisfaction
Making the Numbers Matter!

Institutional retirement service providers frequently use survey numbers and metrics to assess customer and employee satisfaction.  The key to a successful operation, however, is what retirement services divisions do with those numbers.  Customers of larger providers sometimes complain that "I had to talk to several people before I got the answer I needed" or "No one seemed to be able to communicate the details of my retirement plan or my options to change it." 
 
SCS has seen firsthand - and statistics substantiate - that an institution's investment in education and credentialing can significantly improve the quality of work as well as employee job satisfaction.  These improvements then drive improvements in customer satisfaction numbers.  The result is an institution that can demonstrate a clear competitive advantage and has a good story to tell about their happy customers.  They can proclaim their commitment to professionalism by publicizing the number of credentialed employees they have on staff and by communicating the details of their education program.
 
In this difficult economy, budget numbers also matter!  ASPPA is now offering volume discounts for many of its educational offerings. Learn more... 
David and Goliath 
 Competing to Win
David vs. Goliath
 
In his article "How David Beats Goliath," Malcolm Gladwell writes about using unconventional strategies to succeed when you are the underdog.  History shows us that David chose not to play by Goliath's rules, and he won.  In fact, Gladwell cites studies show that "Davids" win the majority of the time "even when everything we think we know about power says they shouldn't." 
 
When identifying your competitive advantages, think about how your firm operates in ways far different from the Goliaths.  For an enlightening perspective on this subject, check out what Mr. Gladwell has to say...
What Our Customers are Saying...
 
"I don't know what we would have done without SCS. We were able to accomplish more than we thought possible this year."  (Barb, Midwest retirement services firm)           
 
 
"The training we received from SCS helped improve client satisfaction and helped us increase assets under management through a new targeted market."  (Jay, Retirement Services Institution Training Director)                  
   
Power of 3 Retirement Industry Update Workshop
   
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