Often, we’re so intent on making the sale that we have a transactional view of our clients, rather than taking time to build relationships or demonstrate service excellence. We use them (to increase our profits), abuse them (by giving them inferior service), and then treat them like a one-night stand – attentive today, neglectful tomorrow!
Sound silly? Well, complaints such as “You never call”, “You’re always too busy”, and “Why were you late?’ are legitimate gripes made by disgruntled clients. In today’s competitive market, client service expectations have increased. Clients are savvy, realise they have a multitude of choice, and expect to be treated exceptionally by their brokers.
So how do you deliver exceptional service? How do you surprise and delight clients, and turn them into enthusiastic referral sources that will stick with you, not only because you do great work but also because of the value you bring?
Respond as soon as you can
Speed is everything, so try to reply to your clients as soon as you can and keep them in the loop as to your progress. Procrastination doesn’t help anyone, and you’re going to have to respond sooner or later. May as well do it now!
Listen to your clients
Avoid speaking, and really listen to what they’re saying. It’s important you understand what your clients are communicating to you. That way, you will be able to meet their needs successfully and provide the correct product or cover.
One of the biggest gripes in business today is that people simply don’t do what they say they’re going to do. If you say you’re going to do something, make sure you do it. It enhances your professionalism and personal brand, and demonstrates that you value your client.
Know your stuff
The perception of your client is that you are the paid expert. That’s why they’ve come to you. So it’s imperative that you keep yourself up to date and top of game within your profession. Be ready to answer client questions; unfortunately, if you convey a lack of knowledge, you risk ruining your credibility.
Give a little
If a client asks you to do something that really won’t cost you a lot in time or money, then treat it as an opportunity to go the extra mile. By doing so, you not only have a contented and indebted client but someone who is more than happy to refer to you.
Use your knowledge
Once you’ve built an emotional connection with your client, you would have figured out how they prefer to communicate. Some clients are not detail driven and won’t require excessive information.
On the other hand, some prefer to know every step of the process. Learn to gauge your client’s preferences and use this knowledge appropriately in the service experience.
Finally, within the financial services profession advisors really should view their book of clients as their most valuable asset and take good care of them. More than that, they should take the time to develop long-lasting relationships by keeping in touch regularly, both in good times and bad. It’s not sufficient to wait until renewal time to contact them, but rather, go for an ongoing communiqué.
Remember, you’re not just selling a product but providing expert advice that can significantly impact on people’s livelihood. So if you haven’t given much thought to your service levels, then perhaps it’s time to conduct a self-audit. If you don’t make the client feel valued, respected and important, your competitors will!
This is a slightly amended version of an article written by Nikki Heald, founder of Corptraining and co-author of “Views On The Way To The Top”. It has been shortened to make it suitable for web publishing.