Appreciate Your Client’s Time and They’ll Appreciate You, (Part One in a Two Part Series)

Stan Warchol, Brinker Capital

The financial services business is one of relationships.  So much of an advisor’s time is spent building trust and fostering positive relationships.  One of the best ways to do that is to actively demonstrate ways in which you value your client’s time.

Here are 12 ways you can show clients that you value their time as much as your own:

  1. Schedule well in advance.  If your business model calls for annual meetings and quarterly update conference calls, then schedule them several weeks in advance.  Show your clients’ that you understand they have busy calendars, but that these meetings are important.
  2. Confirm appointments.  Staff members should make outbound calls confirming appointments one to two days in advance of the meeting.  Ensure that the client has directions or parking instructions and is reminded of any paperwork or materials needed at the meeting.  By confirming, you garner firm commitment to the date and time of the meeting and demonstrate flexibility if schedule changes need to happen.  Clients are now becoming accustomed to automated e-mails and text confirmations of appointments.
  3. Pre-work.  Any forms that can be filled out in advance of the meeting should be sent to the client.  Client intake surveys and risk tolerance questionnaires are examples of routine forms that can be completed in advance of the meeting.  To the extent possible, those forms should be prepopulated.  If you don’t have the technology to prepopulate certain fields, then have a staff member do so.  Clients will appreciate that you are asking for only new or previously unknown information.
  4. Preparation.  When clients come into your office, be ready and waiting.  Have everything that you need for the meeting all queued up. Make sure your receptionist knows to expect the client and welcome him or her accordingly.
  5. Under-schedule.   No matter how compelling your magazine collection, and even if you have CNBC looping in the background, clients don’t like waiting in your waiting room any more than you like waiting for a doctor or dentist.   Make sure your schedule isn’t overbooked.  If unanticipated issues come up that get you off track throughout the day, call clients in advance and let them know that you are running late.
  6. Watch the clock.  Clients should know how long to block off their calendars for your meetings.  If you tell them in advance that the meeting will only take an hour, make sure you stick to that timeframe.
  7. Full and self-serve options.  If there are forms or questionnaires that the client can complete online, direct them accordingly.  Do not, however, require them to self-serve if that is not their preference.  Always give the client the option of having you or someone on your staff either walk them through the form or complete it for them.
  8. Use preferred communication vehicles.  Proactively ask clients whether they would like to be communicated with via telephone, e-mail or text message.  Do they want paper reports or electronic?  Make a note of those preferences and use whenever possible.
  9. Avoid peak times.  Just because it is on your to-do list for the week doesn’t mean it is on your clients.  Avoid certain days and times in the week or seasonal business cycles when the client may be experiencing peak activity.
  10. Keep clients in the loop.  Proactively, let clients know the status of pending matters, even if there isn’t much to report.  Keep the communication flowing so the client’s mind can be put at ease and he or she doesn’t have to make the outbound call to find out what is happening.
  11. Don’t contribute to information overload. Pretty much everyone you talk to will tell you that they are on information overload.  Don’t send information unnecessarily, or simply to “touch” the client. Only send items that you are confident clients will value.
  12. Show appreciation.  Thank clients for their time.

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