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Serving Clients Fairly, But Not Equally
Thursday, October 25, 2012
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Early on in your career, you probably learned that superior client service is essential for maintaining your existing business and for consistent long term growth.  The reality is that it is the cornerstone of every great practice.

As a new advisor, you have the luxury and ability to offer all your clients top notch service.  It is easy to make everyone an “A” client when you have a small book to manage.  However, as time goes on and your business grows, you start to realize pretty quickly that it is virtually impossible to offer the same type and level of services to every client in your book.

It all comes down to servicing fairly but not equally.  Everyone deserves to be serviced, but you don’t have to service everyone in the same fashion.  Think about car dealerships.  The service you might get in an “economy car dealership” will be radically different from the service you would get in a luxury car dealership.  You are going to have a service experience in both, but it will be quite different.

The same holds true for your practice, you must service all your clients, or they will find someone who will.  So how do you accomplish the fair but not equal mentality so you can have a manageable practice?  The key is to figure out a proper segmentation of your clients and then implement a service model for each tier that makes sense.

There are numerous advantages to putting a service model in place:

  • Trust and Rapport - Service models add structure and consistency to your client contacts.  This will ultimately lead to a stronger bond with your clients.
  • Client Reviews - Having a consistent segmentation and service model provides the structure to schedule client reviews in a systematic fashion.
  • Opportunities - Having regular contact with clients gives you the ability to uncover new business opportunities.  (New Assets, ancillary business, etc.)
  • Feedback - All relationships are two way streets, and having consistent contact opens the door to receive constructive feedback.
  • Referrals - Ongoing, regular contact with your clients will present opportunities to ask for and receive referrals.

Creating this service model is a two step process.  The first step is to examine your business from both a qualitative and quantitative viewpoint.  This is what ultimately creates the segmentation, or client ranking.

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Segmentation means taking your existing book of business and categorizing your clients into certain classification categories, or tiers.  These tiers can be anything that is meaningful to you.  (For example, you can classify your clients in terms of “A”, “B”, “C”, or “D” with “A” clients being the top tier, “B” being the middle and “C” being middle-bottom, and “D” being the bottom.)

It is important to segment your clients based upon both quantitative and qualitative data.  Most advisors just use the quantitative, or numbers, ranking clients by assets under management, revenue or ROA.  The issue with this is that you might have a client who ranks low in assets or revenue, but they are an amazing referral source, or they have great future potential. (Think about a CPA for example.  They might not have assets with you, but if they refer 12 clients to you per year, are you going to treat that CPA like an “A” client or a “D” client?)

The next step after you rank your clients is to put a service matrix in place.  The Service Matrix outlines what you will offer and do for your clients, ie:  the client experience.

As you build out your service matrix, think about what you want to offer your clients:

  • Monthly Calls
  • Quarterly /Annual Reviews
  • Newsletters & Drip Mailings
  • Client Appreciation Events
  • Etc. Etc.

The service matrix can be as expansive as you want it to be!

Once you have your offerings in line, you then need to consider which offerings make sense for each tier that you established with your segmentation.  This is called your service matrix.  Think about:

  • What tiers is get monthly calls and how frequent will they be?  (Ex:  A clients might get 8 calls per year but you might only want to do 4 with B clients…)
  • What tiers get reviews and how frequent will they be?
  • Who gets newsletters? 
  • Who gets invited to client events?

You get the idea.

As you create your service matrix, you should continually ask yourself “what results am I looking for by implementing this matrix for my “A”, “B”, “C” and “D” clients?  By keeping your end goals in mind, you will be able to further refine the different services you offer and who you make them available to.

Once complete it is time to implement, and whether you use spreadsheets or a contact management system, the key to success is creating a process that works for you and your practice.

At the end of the day, effective service will help differentiate and separate you from the competition.  So segment your own book of business and create your own Service Matrix and Service Model.  It takes a bit of effort and time, but you will be rewarded with happier, more loyal clients which ultimately will breed referrals and more business.

Eric Sheikowitz and Michael Silver are Senior Managing Partners of Focus Partners, LLC, a Coaching and Speaking firm that specializes in helping Financial Advisors reach their fullest potential. For more information on their services, contact them at 201-634-0789 or info@focusvpm.com.

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