It seems to me that one of the key fundamentals for an advisory business to become and remain successful is to ensure that the client’s experience is a good one, each and every time they interact with you. So, what happens to a client when they are dealing with your company? What do they experience? How do you, as the business owner, satisfy yourself that you are indeed delivering a great experience for each and every client?

It’s been a core belief of Business Health that for the client’s experience to be truly a good one, it needs to achieve three outcomes:

  1. It must be easy for the client to work with you
  2. Dealing with you must make them feel good
  3. The client must receive a successful outcome

As to point 1. – how easy is it for clients to deal with your practice? Are you responsive to their queries? Do you have clearly stipulated service standards which are promoted to clients and staff alike for example? Are these standards comparable to the other professional providers they might be dealing with?

Do you offer your clients a choice in terms of how you communicate with them – would they prefer hard or soft copy? How about their meetings with you – are you flexible, not just in timing but also with the location of where you meet. Do you know if they’d prefer to meet through Skype?

Turning to the ongoing management of their plan; are your clients able to access their details as and when they choose through a secure online portal provided by you? Do you retain records of their other important documents such as wills and testamentary trusts? And, if they need additional advice such as estate planning, tax and aged care, are you able to introduce them to other professionals you know and trust?

As to the ‘feel good’ outcome – do you know how your clients feel after interacting with your practice? Did they enjoy the experience, or did they feel that something was missing (and if a little extra was needed, what could it have been)?

Hairdressers offer clients a coffee or champagne on arrival, while dentists (mine at least) have a music playlist from which I can choose as he checks the teeth. Real estate agents are now rewarding neighbours who attend a local auction with a ticket into a draw to win a bottle of French champagne. Upgrade offers to a ‘better’ car, hotel room or phone deal are commonplace. And so it goes. And while these are in no way directly analogous to the role their financial planner plays, the fact is that the very same client is going through these experiences with other service providers. So maybe your clients are thinking – why not my financial planner?

When clients come to your office are they greeted by someone who knows their name? Knows why they’re there and who they’re going to meet? Has a parking space been offered? Does your CRM tell you that the client prefers a green tea to a latte? You get the drift, I’m sure.

Of course, the simplest and most personal way to know how your clients are feeling is to ask them (who would have thought!). And yet our data shows that still only one in three advisers are actually doing this!

Why not, within 2 weeks of a client coming onboard, meeting with their adviser or attending an event you organise, reach out (phone is our preferred method) and seek their feedback, observations and suggestions? We also recommend that someone other than the adviser makes this call as it provides another level of objectivity and impartiality to the feedback, while also reducing a level of adviser dependence.

Also, a biyearly satisfaction survey across your whole client base is a great way to tap into the sentiment of your clients. Confidential and anonymous, managed independently by an external third party is our preferred method. Better still if the feedback can be benchmarked against the marketplace.

Turning to the third outcome – has your relationship produced a result for the client? To be genuinely successful, the client must be deriving a tangible value from the relationship they have with you. Are you saving them money or producing a better-than-benchmark investment performance? Have you identified weaknesses in their current financial structure which could turn into a problem down the line? Or are you removing the stress of managing financials by providing them with information, confidence and comfort?

These benefits should be quantified and reinforced at every opportunity – to remind your client of why they’re paying you.

So maybe as you begin to think about your plans for 2019, why not ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Is my practice easy do deal with?
  2. Do my clients enjoy working with us?
  3. Are we producing a positive outcome for them? 

For your consideration.

Terry Bell

Business Health Pty Ltd

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