How First Command Financial Services Relies on Data to Make a Difference in Military Communities

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AMY DOHERTY
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, First Command Financial Services

At First Command, Amy leads the company on several important strategic priorities, including the continuing adaption to a rapidly evolving digital world and effectively aligning technology and business processes for services to our field advisors and clients. As Chief Operating Officer (COO), Amy is tasked with helping First Command effectively adapt to inevitable changes that come with company growth.

She has been featured in CIO Magazine, Forbes and Computerworld, and was named on RealComm’s “35 to Watch” list. In 2019, she was recognized as CIO of the Year in the nonprofit/public sector by Capital CIO Leadership Association. She proudly serves as a Sequoyah Fellow for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Amy is passionate about empowering women in technology leadership and creating a culture of continuous learning, experimen-tation, and innovation.

As a financial planning firm focused on serving US military families, First Command Financial Services knows that delivering a stellar client experience is more than a marketing strategy: it’s a corporate mandate.

“The reality is, we owe our clients a great experience,” says Amy Jean Doherty, executive vice president and chief operating officer at First Command Financial Services. “They are sacrificing so much for us.”

But helping military families pursue lifelong financial security from the start of their military careers to retirement and beyond, at home or during deployment, requires enterprise-wide access to real-time customer data.

Here’s how Doherty describes First Command’s approach to creating data-driven customer experiences, and why such experiences are more important than ever.

How are customer expectations of financial services organizations evolving?

Our clients are becoming increasingly accustomed to fast and personalized customer experiences. It’s no longer enough for a business to have a solid reputation and build trust with clients. Consumers want to do business with companies that understand them, empathize with them, and are able to anticipate their needs. Our client experience research has identified service as a top driver of satisfaction. So we focus on providing our clients with a seamless, personalized, and proactive service experience that extends across multiple touchpoints – online, over-the-phone/voice, and face-to-face.

How does Salesforce’s CRM technology help meet these expectations?

Our Salesforce CRM system will act as a central hub for everything we know about our clients, from their financial transactions to the channels they’re interacting with, whether it’s in-person, on the phone, or through a contact center. This allows us to work collaboratively across the organization to ensure clients receive the personalized service, financial coaching, and advice they need.

Moreover, with Salesforce CRM technology, we can build omni-channel customer experiences right out of the box without having to purchase multiple software components. We can offer phone support, in-person services, and chat among various channels for data-driven conversations.

Has COVID-19 changed your approach to enhancing customer experience?

First Command has always been an in-person company, and face-to-face financial coaching is one of the things that we pride ourselves most on. With the pandemic, we had to quickly equip our financial advisors and support personnel to adapt the company’s proven, personalized approach to be offered virtually. COVID-19 forced us to turn on a dime and quickly figure out how to build the same level of trust and personalized service via video conferencing. With invaluable CRM data at our fingertips, we will be able to offer personalized product recommendations, whether interacting with a client via a computer screen or physically facing them across a table.

The pandemic has also required companies to provide clients with greater speed and convenience. With CRM as the backbone of our business, we seek to understand the whole client relationship without having to repeatedly ask for basic information. For instance, we can meet new clients, onboard them, and conduct periodic financial health reviews, constantly collecting and updating this data so that we don’t have to ask them the same preliminary questions again and again.

What are the challenges of creating great customer experiences for your clients, and how does Salesforce’s CRM help?

Our clients are military families, so they’re constantly moving around and changing duty stations. Because our clients are more mobile, we may only get to see them once before they leave for another location. That’s why First Command offers a unique proposition: we can transfer our clients to a local advisor, no matter where they are stationed. We have offices around every military installation, which makes systematic knowledge of all of our clients more critical than ever.

The CRM solution supports this seamless client transfer from duty station to duty station by providing incoming advisors with all of the information they need about a particular client. It’s about more than facts and figures –  we will offer context around customer interactions, starting from the very first customer touchpoint to the present.

Another factor that makes our client base unique is that we serve a wide range of customers. For example, our young officers have very different wants and needs than someone who is ready for retirement. We focus on providing proactive service in flexible and convenient ways that best meet the specialized needs of our clients as they evolve. Being able to personalize our services using data-driven insights from our CRM system and next-best actions is critical to delivering this proactive service as well as driving our digital transformation and growth.

In the end, our goal is to provide clients with a more personalized and convenient experience, giving them peace of mind that they themselves and their families are financially secure and positioned for the future. Delivering a stellar client experience ensures that we establish and build trust and loyalty with existing clients and continue to attract new ones. It’s both invigorating and humbling to know that we can make a difference in their lives.

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