Yet as obvious as those results are, they still raise a couple useful questions. The first: What should you do with this information? There are clear implications for your service system, for instance; if you didn’t already know that you should return a client’s call promptly, here’s proof positive. Less obviously, you need to make sure your staff is in agreement about what “prompt” means. How quickly do you return client calls? Do you monitor or measure it?
If you cannot back up your answer with data, consider doing so. I have worked with lots of advisors who told me that they provide great service, only to discover upon further investigation that their staff was not consistently prompt in returning calls or letters. “What gets measured gets done” is a well-traveled management maxim. The converse is that what doesn’t get measured ... well, we can’t say anything with any confidence about that.
In fairness, I have seen plenty of staffs who consistently provided outstanding response times to client questions of their own initiative. The point is that if you don’t check you don’t know.
Another question worth considering: How can you use the conclusions of this survey in attracting new clients? The short answer, unfortunately, is: You can’t.
Advisors too often confuse “What should I expect from my advisor” with “Why should I choose you?” If you provide great customer service, by all means tell people -- but recognize that every other advisor your prospect talks to will say the same thing. Promptly returning phone calls and making time for clients is a requirement if you want to retain clients. It is the basic qualification if you are to persuade them to talk about you in a positive way to other people. So great service will only help you get clients only to the extent that it is a prerequisite. The better your service, the more clients will trickle in.
The “Why you?” question is one that stumps most advisors. And the really powerful answer is not that you treat people well, but that you address their unique problems. Farther down in the article about the survey, we see a bit more detail: More than half of respondents (56%) said that their advisor helps build their relationship by introducing them to products tailored to their needs.
ASK BETTER QUESTIONS
There are better questions to ask, though. To be useful, advisors need to know not “Why are you happy?” but “Why did you choose this advisor when you had so many others to pick from?” Let’s find out which advisors show clients strategies that are tailored to their unique needs and go beyond the usual financial planning exercises. Then let’s ask those clients how much it adds to the relationship.
Asking a prospective client, “What do you expect from your advisor?” is a lot less valuable than asking, “What would you most like to find in an advisor that you haven’t found yet?”
Do you have something special to offer? What difference have you cultivated that is valuable to clients in your particular niche? I would love to hear some of your stories in the comments below.