As published in No More Practice’s Reality Check on 12 September 2013.
Never had an ideal client leave? Never had one complain? Never had one question you, your value or your fees? WOW. That’s either tremendous or a real shame. Why?
There can be two reasons why you have been lucky or unlucky enough to never have received such feedback. The first reason is you are doing such a sterling job and constantly delivering to your client’s expectations, so there is never a need to complain. To you I say, well done, you’ve nailed what could possibly be ‘nirvana’ of the business world.
For others, the reason you may not have received any objection is simply because your clients have not spoken up. The biggest challenge you face is that if your clients do not say something when they are unhappy, you can’t fix it.
Unfortunately, people don’t always speak up when they experience doubt or disappointment. Have you ever been somewhere and been unsatisfied with the service, yet when asked how everything is, smiled, and said through gritted teeth, “fine”. I know most people have done this at some stage in their lives.
Over the last 12 months, I have fielded more ‘SOS’ calls from advisers asking how to deal with an unhappy client, or to ‘role play’ a response to an uncomfortable question, than I have in the past 13 years.
To reduce the chances of this happening, here are 5 ways to lock clients in and stop them from ever thinking about leaving:
Be pro-active about asking for feedback. For some of you, this is way out of your comfort zone. However, if you don’t do it, you may be at risk of losing a valuable client that could have been prevented. It is never too late to reinforce to your clients that their feedback is invaluable to the ongoing success of your relationship.
Remind your clients of the ‘depth’ of your relationship. It may be due to how many years you have known them, or the intimate knowledge you have gathered along the way. You ‘get’ them. You understand their fears, what keeps them up at night, what rocks their boat, their intentions, their values, their past, their wishes for the future etc…, and they trust you. This ‘substance’ can’t be uncovered or learnt overnight with a new adviser. It’s your competitive advantage.
Point out the facts of life. If you are dealing with a couple, remind them that you will be the one to look after their spouse (or family’s) affairs if something happened to them. It would be your ‘safe hands’ and trusted advice that would carry on their wishes, and ensure their loved ones were properly looked after. What’s that peace of mind worth to someone?
Share stories or examples to a highlight a point. Real life examples or stories help promote your message and allows clients to relate to the experience. You could handle an objection by sharing a story of a similar client, such as, “The other day a client rang to cancel their insurances as a way to cut costs in their household budget. After sharing with them the tragic story of what happened to another client who did just this, they decided their insurance premiums were well worth it and budget cuts could be found elsewhere”.
Reinforce your value, at every opportunity possible. Remind clients (verbally and in writing) why they are with you, should stay with you, pay you, and refer you. Don’t leave this till you get an unhappy camper. By then it could be too late. Reinforcing the value of your relationships and making it impossiblefor a client to want to leave should be part of every advisers ‘business as usual’.