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The laws of user experience (UX) are a set of simple laws about user behavior that guide how web designers build and optimize web pages. By keeping these laws in mind, designers can make websites that are easy and intuitive to use while also subtly encouraging the behavior that they’re after, whether that’s closing a sale or urging a user to sign up for a mailing list.
While these UX laws were made with web designers in mind, the basic principles also apply to a financial advisory. Using these same UX laws, you can improve productivity and optimize your service for a better overall client experience (CX). As a case in point, let’s look at Parkinson’s Law.
"Any task will inflate until all of the available time is spent."
In web design, Parkinson’s law states that a person is likely to keep working on a task until the available time is used up. This can explain the sudden burst of productivity many people have when a deadline approaches. You might get more done in that last hour before a project is due than you did in the days leading up to that deadline.
This isn’t laziness or poor time management, per se. It’s often just a subconscious process of conserving effort. This graph illustrating Parkinson’s Law shows why:
The more time you have available to do something, the less effort you need to use to get it done.
If you have two hours to travel just one mile, you’d likely walk at a leisurely pace with plenty of time to stop for a nice lunch or a nap. It just doesn’t make sense to run when you can get where you need to be on time without breaking a sweat. On the other hand, if you only had 10 minutes to travel that mile, you’d definitely need to break into a sprint because it’s better to arrive on time and a little out-of-breath than to show up late.
The same subconscious logic applies to any task you have. Without constraints, you’re naturally going to work at a slower pace, even if you could do it faster if you worked at peak efficiency.
You might not be building a website but the same law of human behavior applies to your staff and to your clients.
If you follow up with a client to request that they send over important documents but don’t give a time frame for when you need them, you could end up waiting for weeks or find yourself sending multiple reminders before you actually get those documents.
In the office, if you have an inefficient process for organizing meeting notes and no real deadline for doing so, you’ll find that you and your team continue to delay the task until you’re scrambling ahead of that client meeting to search through previous meeting notes to find the key topics to discuss this time.
In both cases, the client experience (CX) suffers. The client’s delays in sending you the documents you need can end up delaying your ability to provide timely and efficient advice. Your team’s delays in completing routine tasks can end up creating disorganization and inefficiencies that translate to lower quality service.
To avoid unnecessary delays and get more done during working hours, you can modify some UX design best practices to fit your financial advisory practice. Remember: web designs that use automation and create time constraints to make a process simple, straightforward, and urgent are key to helping users complete tasks quickly.
The same tools can be applied to your office. For automation, you can use technology that automates routine tasks like scheduling, syncing calendars, sending reminders, or writing emails.
With the right technology, your staff can get these routine tasks done more efficiently while clients can benefit from an easier, more streamlined client experience. Rather than chasing down a client to set up your next meeting, for example, you could simply send them a Calendly link to pick a time that works for them and have that automatically blocked out on your calendar.
To create time constraints, you can use a variety of techniques. The one that I’ve had the most success with in my office is the Model Week. The Model Week, or Ideal Week, is an hour-by-hour plan for what the perfect week would look like if you budgeted your time well and had no unexpected emergencies.
A Model Week assigns a task or activity to every hour of your day to ensure you’re using the time the way you want to and need to. Depending on your priorities, you might block out time each morning for emails and time each afternoon for reviewing and organizing meeting notes. You might have a weekly check-in meeting with your staff or a weekly follow-up hour where you reach out to those clients who you’re still waiting on responses from.
Of course, when unexpected things come up that are a higher priority than the regularly scheduled task in your Model Week, these things can be pushed. However, with your model week planned out, it’s easier to keep those less urgent but still essential tasks front of mind and make sure they’re getting done regularly.
When you find yourself in between meetings or coming back from lunch, you won’t wonder what to do next or how best to use that time because you’ve already got the most productive use of that time scheduled in your model week.
You can do this for your own schedule and for your staff. To start, make a list of the tasks or processes in your office that tend to neglected or just aren’t done as quickly or as often as they should be — whether that’s sending out follow up emails, organizing meeting notes, or any other task that would improve the efficiency and quality of service at your financial practice.
Next, schedule these into your Model Week. Try to plan these tasks for times when you’re least likely to have meetings or other obligations to take care of so that, for the most part, you know you’ll actually be able to get this done in the time blocked out for it.
Finally, be sure not to overbook yourself. Budgeting each hour of your work day doesn’t mean you need to schedule a productive work task for each minute of the day. Budgeting time for lunch and breaks is just as important. Likewise, keeping blocks of time available for ad hoc meetings or calls with clients is just as important as using your time productively.
The purpose of a Model Week is not to spend every minute of every day working but to make sure that you are making time for the work that needs to be done, rather than putting it off because it doesn’t really have a clear deadline.