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Message to Advisors: Put the 'Custom' in Your Customer Experiences

Remember when it used to feel like Big Brother was watching you when a website remembered you had visited it before? These days, one could argue it would be downright annoying if a site you signed up with didn’t remember who you are, where you live, how you want to pay and what actions you performed in the past, whether they were things you had searched or purchased.
Thanks to technology, our expectations around the customer experience have changed dramatically in just a few short years. We are more comfortable with providing information about ourselves, as long as there’s a benefit or payoff that we want. At the other end, companies are innovating the way they use that personal data to provide increasingly customized experiences, which in turn make it easier for customers to offer up even more personal information.
In Mary Meeker’s recently released 2015 report on Internet trends, she makes the case that we’re now at a point where consumers not only want, but expect experiences on their terms – getting what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. She points to several technology startups who are leveraging smartphones and GPS to provide consumers with personalized, on-demand products and services via a few taps of a mobile app. These companies are disrupting a variety of industries, including transportation (Uber, Lyft), food (Caviar, Munchery, Sprig) and travel (Airbnb). As technology startups that use data to provide an ultra-personalized, ultra-convenient experience capture more and more market share, the threat to institutional companies is real.
For financial advisors and agents, the lesson here is clear: You need to engage with your clients and prospects when they want to hear from you and how they want from you.
Consider these three tips:
1. Listen for life signals
You’re well aware that there are certain key events in a person’s life that are opportune moments to reassess their financial situation: a new child, marriage, car, living situation, educational opportunity. And thanks to social media, many people announce these changes to their social networks. Rather than leave it up to luck to be in the right place at the right time – or, worse, be in the dark altogether – build your social media presence and leverage technology to help you quickly identify these important life events happening in your social networks.
2. Be omni-channel
A big part of providing a personalized customer experience is giving them a choice in how to communicate with you. The ability to provide an omni-channel experience – where interactions move seamlessly between online and mobile SMS and phone and in-person – is increasingly important in this hyper-connected era. By being findable and available on multiple channels and platforms, the easier it is for customers to engage with you.
3. Focus on the relationship
At the end of the day, the financial services business is built on personal relationships, and that means showing customers and prospects that you’re more than just an advisor selling financial products and services. Thanks to social media and technology, you can easily share the non-professional side of your life – your interests, friends and family, community service work. You might be surprised at how many customers are happy to share the same with you.
How are you delighting your clients and prospects with custom experiences?
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The social Web helps build trust: Recap from NYSE CMO Summit

Speaking in front of a packed house at the New York Stock Exchange’s Executive Marketing Summit (#MktgSummit), Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih participated in an engaging discussion about what it takes to lead a growing business and build effective consumer engagement in the digital world.

Left to right: Andrew Ross Sorkin (@andrewrsorkin), CNBC & The New York Times (moderator); Bill Day, CEO, Tremor Video; Scott Sanborn, COO, Lending Club; Clara Shih (@clarashih), CEO and Founder, Hearsay Social; and Hayley Barna (@hayleybay), Founder and Co-CEO, Birchbox.

Participants in the conference included senior executives from a diverse group of established organizations (including Citi, Anheuser-Busch, and Harley-Davidson), as well as key players in the digital space (including Birchbox, Tremor Video, and Lending Club).

In a wide-ranging discussion covering everything from consumer privacy concerns to the intangible personal characteristics one needs to succeed as an entrepreneur, it was fascinating to see the shared perspective of executives from such a diverse set of organizations.
Here are several key takeaways from the sessions:

The social Web helps build consumer trust.

There was considerable discussion around how brands can build trust with consumers, particularly in a landscape rampant with distrust of online mechanisms such as service reviews. Consumers are far more likely to trust the opinions of their friends, family, and colleagues than they are advertisements or anonymous online reviews of a given service, suggesting that brands that do an effective job of “tapping into the right influencers” will reap the rewards of a more trusting consumer base.

In matters of privacy, being opt-in is a big win.

Speaking to concerns about privacy and regulatory issues surrounding social media, the panel discussed the importance of offering “opt-in” services and of being “clear about what information is and isn’t used for.” Panelists generally agreed that clarity is crucial when requesting access to consumer information, as well as offering tangible value in return for that access.

Several characteristics define a successful tech entrepreneur — and age isn’t one of them.

The panel also included an engaging discussion around the personal characteristics that define successful entrepreneurs. Clara pointed to three things in particular: a “risk-taking” mentality, an ability to “learn and adapt,” and a knack for “balancing commitments.”

Additionally, panel moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin (New York Times columnist and CNBC Squawk Box co-anchor) asked the panelists if they felt that older entrepreneurs had meaningful contributions to make to the technology world, given the assumption that most of the great successes of the last 50 years have been founded by people under 35. In general, the panelists agreed that as long as aspiring entrepreneurs have certain personal characteristics, age is not a significant factor in their ultimate success.

Indeed, Shih pointed out that many of Hearsay Social’s clients are longstanding, more-tenured financial professionals embracing new technologies out of a recognition that “in order to keep their revenues growing, they need to adapt.”

All told, the Summit was a fascinating opportunity to hear some of today’s most engaging business leaders discuss the latest methods and technologies they employ to connect with consumers, and we look forward to participating again in the future!

Want to hear more from the session? Watch the panel in full:

NYSE Big Stage

In addition to participating in the panel discussions, Clara was interviewed by NYSE Big Stage, where she discussed how to find and tap into the most powerful customer conversations:

TechCrunch Founder Stories spotlights Hearsay Social's strong engineering culture

Engineers are the lifeblood of any true Silicon Valley organization. For any company with a vision of improving the world and streamlining the way business works, as Hearsay Social does by driving deeper customer relationships, great technologists and engineers are essential.
That’s why we’re so proud to see TechCrunch recognizing our strong engineering team and culture.
In the interview below, Michael Abbott (general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, previously Twitter’s VP of Engineering) talks to Hearsay Social founder and CTO Steve Garrity about our company’s engineering culture—from its early development to the present.
What was it like starting an entirely new company after leaving one as large as Microsoft? Why does Hearsay Social regularly send engineers into the field to speak with customers and end users? How do we implement efficient processes to make the most of each engineers’ time?
Steve details answers to these questions and more in the interview. And remember, Hearsay Social is always hiring the best engineers, so get in touch!

Meanwhile at PyCon 2012…

While our CEO Clara Shih and a few others from the team were networking at SXSW the past week, the Hearsay Social engineering team was out in full force at PyCon, an annual convention for the Python programming language held in Santa Clara. Since it was located in our neck of the woods, we decided to join the event, learn some new things, and spread the word about what we’re building here at Hearsay Social. Additionally, as a PyCon gold sponsor, we had a booth in the expo hall complete with a photo booth so each of you could show off the “social media superhero” inside. (Visit Da Silva Photo Booth if you want to see how your photos came out!)
The talks at the conference covered the gamut of topics including security, scalability, testing, continuous integration, the Django web framework, localization, and unicode. Of particular interest to startups was the keynote speech by Y Combinator founder Paul Graham, who challenged the audience with a few startup ideas. Sorry, Paul, but we already have one of those.
Some of the talks that really inspired our team members were “Pragmatic Unicode, or, How do I stop the pain?” given by Ned Batchelder, “Fast Test, Slow Test” given by Gary Bernhardt and “Practicing Continuous Deployment” given by David Cramer. We’d like to thank these guys and all the other speakers for volunteering their time and sharing their knowledge. We definitely came back with a lot of ideas as to how we can improve our product and our engineering process.
On Saturday night, Hearsay Social hosted a happy hour for conference goers and was pleased to be next door to the PyLadies, who were hosting a dinner of their own. Later the two parties melded into one, and then everyone made their way to the Hyatt where our neighbors Dropbox hosted desserts at a crowded afterparty. So while SXSW was all abuzz in Texas there was a quiet contingent of engineers geeking out in California and having just as much fun!
And remember, if you’re an engineer and if you love Python, Hearsay Social is hiring.
https://twitter.com/#!/seanconaty/status/178995085428531201
https://twitter.com/#!/stgarrity/status/178319401177722881