Quality advice assured with Aperture’s personal touch

Posted: 3rd May 2016

By Rory McGimpsey

At Aperture, we have just finished our Spring seminar tour of 2016 where we were discussing the advice given by Aperture advisors. In fact, Aperture commissioned some research (in conjunction with Queen’s University, Belfast) that discussed some key differences between face-to-face advice and advice provided over the telephone. The study analysed 6,032 cases in total, the dates ranging from 2009, 2011, and 2014. The study produced some interesting results, particularly in relation to the comparison between face-to-face and telephone appointments.

One of the more noteworthy findings concerned the difference between Aperture approved cases and those approved by other IVA providers. In the sample of cases studied, 21% of cases approved by other providers failed to complete successfully compared to 13% of Aperture approved cases. Why the difference? Well, one of the obvious differences between Aperture and other IVA providers is Aperture offer face-to-face support services along with telephone advice facilities.

The study looked at 1,881 cases that had been approved by Aperture in 2009, thereby capturing the complete Aperture client journey. The study found that face-to-face clients were three times more likely to be approved successfully than telephone clients. Given the high approval and completion rates associated with both types of advice, is there anything particularly beneficial accruing from face-to-face appointments that isn’t experienced with other methods? If we accept that there are certain advantages to a face-to-face meeting, why is this so? At Aperture, we have found our clients receptive to the personalised, bespoke service that is delivered by face-to-face appointments.
As borne out by the study, a face-to-face appointment allows emotional engagement between advisor and client that is not experienced to the same extent in telephone appointments. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with telephone appointments. On the contrary, the evidence shows such appointments are highly effective. Face-to-face meetings accommodate a level of engagement, however, that is simply not possible over the phone.

For example, face-to-face appointments allow advisors to pick up on subtle emotional cues that aren’t apparent in a phone call. Face-to-face appointments enable advisors to bring all their inter-personal attributes to the meeting, including emotional intelligence. To bear this out, the study found (utilising emotion recognition software) that within the sample of appointments analysed, the average amount of emotional work within face-to-face appointments was 11%, compared to just 5% over the phone.

The study found that face-to-face appointments facilitated greater appreciation of client emotions, such as sadness. Such recognition is possibly due to a face-to-face advisor being able to process non-linguistic communication (e.g. facial expressions, body language etc.). This fitted in with the overall assessment of Aperture appointments, where face-to-face conversations were more likely to include more explicit emotional expressions. Such meetings perhaps provide an opportunity for an advisor to establish a deeper rapport with their client and reassure them about their unique worries. The study concluded that face-to-face-appointments are more likely to lead to IVAs being approved successfully, that face-to-face advisors spend more time doing “emotion work”, and that emotions are more likely to be expressed overtly in face-to-face-meetings.

It’s important to note that the study is in no way identifying face-to-face appointments as superior. At Aperture, our clients enjoy an unrivalled client journey where they receive consistently expert advice, regardless of the appointment methodology. However, the face-to-face element of our work demonstrates the personal and sensitive customer experience to which our clients are accustomed. This personal service enables our advisors to live out our values (Caring, Non-Judgemental, Respectful). Whatever the appointment type, Aperture are committed to delivering quality, expert advice in a caring manner. We are proud of our face-to-face service, as evidence of an approach that delivers the personal touch our clients cherish.

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