Why Excellent Client Service Is Crucial to Your Brand
Financial advising is a highly personal, referral-centric business, so it’s worth asking—what makes someone want to refer you?
Think about a time you raved to a friend about a business you worked with. Were you impressed by an amazing product or facility? A snazzy logo? Or were you impressed by the way you were treated?
More often than not, people rave about a business because they received incredible service, not because a product was amazing or an office was especially clean (although those things matter). But people remember—and can often repeat the details of—something someone did for them.
To create a referral-worthy practice, you need all the other elements of an incredible brand, too (a modern and easy-to-navigate website, compelling messaging, cohesive branded materials, etc.), but great client service is what puts you over the top. It’s what stays with people days, weeks, even years later.
Client service is one of the most vital aspects of success because it determines how people feel when they interact with your business.
The Weight of Client Service
Making the decision to refer someone else to a business often depends on the level of service received during a personal interaction. Take dining out, for example—when you visit a restaurant and eat great food, is that enough to make you tell someone about it the next day? If the service is okay, everything is clean, and you enjoyed your food, do you feel compelled to write a good review or recommend the place to a friend?
But if you had great food and the dining room was spotless, and your waiter was super attentive and friendly, and the chef visited your table to ask how the meal was, and they brought you a complimentary glass of wine because you couldn’t decide between the merlot or the cabernet—that is an experience you want to tell someone about.
When a business goes above and beyond to make you feel special and cared for, you want to share that.
The same goes for a financial practice—being a good advisor and returning phone calls is expected. Those are the basics, just like a restaurant serving good food and having clean tables. If you want to earn more referrals, you need to elevate your client service from good to red-carpet-level fantastic.
Your Reputation = Your Clients’ Judgment
Great client service isn’t just about being “likable,” though. You can be a charismatic, talented person, but if you’re not reliable or consistent, people won’t want to refer you. Because when someone refers you, you become a reflection of that person—and they want to be confident that if they refer you to their friend, you will make them look good.
After all, how would you feel if you recommended one of your favorite restaurants to a friend, and after they ate there, they told you they had terrible service and the food was cold? It would be embarrassing. Even if you had a great experience, your friend’s bad experience makes it look like you have low standards, and no one wants that.
That’s why consistency and reliability are key components of great client service. Your clients will refer you only if they are confident that you will deliver. On the other hand, you could be inconsistent about returning their calls, and they might forgive you and still think you’re a great advisor—but they’ll be less inclined to recommend you to a friend.
Examples of Red-Carpet Service
Let’s look at Chick-fil-A, for example—it’s the top-rated fast-food restaurant in the nation when it comes to delivering exceptional service. And that’s because when you visit a Chick-fil-A, you can count on the employees to be efficient, polite, and clean. (And at many fast-food establishments, that’s already surpassing expectations.) That’s not where the great service ends, though—the employees walk to cars in the drive-thru lane to expedite the ordering process—it’s not necessary, it requires more manpower, and it costs the company extra money—but it makes the experience amazing and memorable. Even owners of the individual franchises tend to guests in their restaurants to maintain a high level of service.
Disney parks and resorts are another great example. Guests of Walt Disney World and Disneyland are treated as such—special guests, not just customers. Visitors get special pins to wear if it’s their birthday, anniversary, first time at the park, honeymoon—anything worth celebrating. When you make dining reservations at one of their restaurants, you can indicate whether a member of your party has a food allergy, and the chef will personally visit the table to get additional details and ensure the safe preparation of food.
Trader Joe’s, a popular, privately owned grocery store chain, is also known for its high level of service. Company leaders prioritize the employees, offering many promotional opportunities and excellent benefits. This positive and employee-centric atmosphere translates to great customer service. In one example, an elderly man in Pennsylvania was snowed in and couldn’t get food. His daughter called various stores to find someone who could make a delivery, and the local Trader Joe’s broke its own policy by putting together an order of items that fit the man’s low-sodium diet and delivering it to his door.
Now that is great service.
None of these examples are requirements for these businesses. Disney doesn’t have to give special attention to every person celebrating something at one of their parks. Trader Joe’s could’ve ignored the woman who called about her snowed-in father. But by going above and beyond, they delivered something exceptional and rave-worthy, and they have loyal, raving fans as a result.
How To Provide Red-Carpet Service
Improving your firm’s level of client service can only benefit your business, encouraging greater loyalty and increased referrals. Here are some tips to providing a rave-worthy experience:
Notice the Details
When you want to provide incredible client service, the first step is identifying not just what people need, but what they want. Make your clients’ experience more personal by asking them to fill out a “favorite things” survey so you can learn about their hobbies, favorite snacks and drinks, and other personal details. You can use the information gleaned from the survey to deliver a more personal experience—for example, by serving a client their favorite beverage during a meeting. The survey data can also help when you’re hosting client events and sending gifts (two other ways to deliver above-and-beyond service).
Value People’s Time
Always remember that other people’s time matters. When clients or prospects call, return their calls as soon as possible. Make it a priority to respond to emails within a business day. If you can’t get around to responding that quickly, enlist the help of an assistant or team member in your office. Focus on doing what you say you will in a timely manner.
Like we mentioned above, consistency is vital to creating a referrable brand. Your business needs to exude excellence at every interaction with prospects and clients. And to create a consistent experience, every person on your team needs to be on the same page…
Hire Rock Stars
Your team reflects your brand, so every employee you hire must represent the company in a positive way. Clients also tend to interact with team members more than with the company owner, so your firm’s support staff should have a clear understanding of the service expectations and how to interact with clients in a positive, attentive way.
When hiring, look for people who truly care about doing a great job and pay close attention to detail. Bringing on the best applicants may cost you a little more upfront, but it’s a worthwhile investment.
When you create an exceptional client experience in addition to being great at what you do, your practice becomes a rave-worthy referral magnet. If you need help identifying and implementing great service opportunities, give us a shout! We can assess your client service model and help you take things to the next level. In the meantime, check out The Referral Magnet, where our CEO Kelly Edwards gives her top recommendations to build a referral-worthy financial practice.