Fixing a client on-boarding disasterFinancial Service, Asset Management, Professional Services

When focus drifts, problems arise. The business had been around for decades over the last three years the operations aspect of the business had been split up and transitioned to various shared resources to reduce costs. With no one minding the shop things were spiraling out of control. Sales and revenue continued to come in; profitability was okay, the cracks started to show with new clients. The relationship management team called us in because they needed help, but what we found was more surprising that could be imagined. We saved them 500K in hard costs, 2.5M in staffing costs and doubled client satisfaction.

The team was winning sales, but their process from signed sale to first revenue was so long and arduous that clients were considering walking away. Imagine you want to be spontaneous, so you drive to the airport and hop on the first flight out of the country available and find yourself in a dream vacation. That’s the kind of service clients thought they were buying. Instead, they were showing up to the airport, asked to fill out 500 pages of paperwork and go through 50 security checks and customs screenings before getting on the flight. Clients were disappointed, they were frustrated and the companies perspective they might not see that first revenue dollar for 4-6 months. Brand new clients had average client satisfaction scores of 4 out of 10, and the relationship management teams would have to work for a year to turn things around.

The solution entailed the first-ever detailed analysis of the process from pre-sales (client vetting) all the way through the very first billing. Our team documented every single activity between those two points and found that there were nearly 400 steps, across 18 teams, reaching eight countries and 15 time zones. Physical paper work was fedexed 16,000 miles in numerous trips across the Atlantic. The process map, if you can imagine it was – when printed – roughly the size of a billboard. When we carried the rolled up visual people laughed nervously; no one had ever realized how truly horrific they had let the process get. Years of neglect, of shared teams being relocated, consolidated, offshored, of differing opinions on centers of excellence and no ownership had done this. The solution albeit not straightforward in implementation was to simplify, to reduce the steps and teams involved and to digitize and automate wherever possible. Going back to the metaphor we created a list of about 100 questions or data points and collected a majority of them during the sales process. We collected and digitized all the data and pre-populated the majority of that paperwork, then we gained pre-authorization to the vast majority of countries, and finally, we used the same data to fill out and sign the customs forms. Now instead of waiting 100 business days, it was 20 and frequently less than 5.

Clients were thrilled if they wanted access to a country they could be there in 1/20th of the time previously. Relationship managers saw a doubling in customer satisfaction scored. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were saved in shipping costs, millions in company chargebacks and allocations. From a cash flow perspective, the company went from net outflows for the first 180 days to revenue positive in 60.

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