In this complex regulatory environment, it's important to choose a service provider that can grow with your company and provide expert guidance as you need it. They should have a reputation for accuracy and reliability and have disciplined processes in place that protect your company from risk.
You deserve a provider who will respond quickly to your needs and treat your shareholders the way you want them to be treated. A reputation for outstanding service and high satisfaction ratings in independent surveys, such as the Group Five annual benchmark survey, should also be taken into account.
Perhaps most importantly, you should look for a company with proven best practices and an effective way to measure them.
Which best practices lead to great service?
The following list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather provides some service highlight examples to help you think about best practices to look for in your client and shareholder service provider (e.g. transfer agent, equity compensation service provider, corporate actions, etc.).
- Teams work closely together and with various levels of management on a regular basis to ensure there is consistent communication among the teams.
- Operations leaders participate in regular (e.g. monthly) meetings with other departments (e.g. Relationship Management, Technology and Risk Management).
- Call centers report regularly (e.g. daily) on their call forecast, actual call volumes, the average speed of answer and SLAs.
- Meets regularly (e.g. weekly) to review and approve resources as needed across your business to ensure appropriate coverage is in place to handle all of your client needs.
- Each business group prepares a monthly report for the CEO and/or other designated executives, including highlights, lowlights and areas/projects of focus.
Call center service should focus on quality
The purpose of an excellent call center is to create exceptional customer moments.
Call center representatives should be trained to recognize and escalate when a shareholder needs additional assistance with their account or has repeated issues/complaints. Account notes and flags can be used and tracked to ensure all representatives have access to any prior calls or correspondence with your shareholder. Best practices to look out for in your provider’s call center include:
- Exceptional shareholder care starts with excellent training.
- It is preferable that this critical part of the shareholder experience should be hired, trained and retained as in-house talent. This ensures continuity of service for your shareholders through clear expectations and a supportive culture.
- Passionate about service, consistently delivering superior customer care.
- Measures quality: establish clear SLAs and KPIs.
- Takes ownership of the customer experience, regularly exceeding customer expectations.
- Acquires and maintains superior soft skills, such as active listening, matching the pace of the caller, being friendly and courteous.
- Demonstrates a high level of professionalism.
Shareholder calls that require additional attention and research, including escalated calls, should be managed by a call center customer solutions team dedicated to handling the client’s most complex and challenging solutions. They should work directly with shareholders and across departments to offer solutions until each situation is resolved or closed.
Proactive partnerships with clients
A good transfer agent and/or services provider will facilitate partnerships with clients that are proactive by design. They should engage with their industry to ensure products and services remain ahead of regulatory expectations and best practices. Proactive steps to look for include:
- Brings industry, regulatory and product-based insights through client communications and regular touchpoints with a Relationship Manager.
- Caters Relationship Management teams and a partnership approach to your needs.
- Co-creates a meaningful and actionable partnership strategy with immediate, short, and long-term objectives.
- Develops robust reporting that measures performance KPIs like shareholder satisfaction percentages, call answer rate, volume of calls, turnaround time, etc.
On the ground – service level best practices that work
At EQ, we have learned through experience that a passionate approach to delivering world-class service to our clients and their shareholders is a key driver for our continuing success. This is reflected in our strategy, our culture and the KPIs by which we are measured. As a result, we consistently meet or exceed the average industry rating as measured by accuracy and timeliness.
We also partner with our clients for the long term – and we have retained and renewed relationships with all of our major clients, including General Electric and MDU Resources Group, Inc. Clients engage with us through a dedicated Relationship Management team who act as the first point of contact for service. We build engagement models to suit the needs of each client, which include regular formal and informal touchpoints, industry experts and executive sponsors.
Establishing credibility through measurement – Group Five study
Group Five is the leader for benchmarking satisfaction in the shareholder services industry. Each year, EQ participates in industry-specific, third-party surveys with Group Five to document issuer and shareholder satisfaction. In the 2021 Investor Communication and Engagement Benchmarking Study, EQ was rated the highest overall client support satisfaction in the Transfer Agent Services category, coming in at 96% satisfaction, vs. the industry average of 88%. EQ was also rated the Most Trusted Transfer Agent, and received a rating of 93% overall shareholder service satisfaction, well above the industry average of 79%.
Investing in service and your future
Ultimately, your service provider is the face of your company to your shareholders. Now that you know what's at stake, you can make an informed decision.
Find out more about what EQ has to offer as the most trusted transfer agent in the industry.