According to George Tamer of TD Ameritrade Institutional (speaking at the Business and Wealth Management Forum in Denver this week), ensuring clients are satisfied doesn’t require rocket-science-like acumen, just discipline.
After you have defined your company’s goal for the customer service experience, Tamer’s three steps to live up to it start with the people you hire―your team. To find and retain the right staff, Tamer suggests creating/using screening tools (such as StrengthsFinder), developing a training program, empowering your team, and rewarding your employees. “People are only going to do what you pay them to do,” Tamer says, so be sure to align your client-service expectations with compensation.
The second step is “process.” Adopt a formal client segmentation plan to ensure your levels of service are appropriate and properly priced―is there enough revenue to support your model? Be sure you are offering each client segment precisely what they value most. How do you know what they value and whether you fit the bill? Measure satisfaction with client surveys, a client advisory board, or any other creative way you can think of to get at the root of their client experience. Tamer suggests that for every one client who complains, 26 others have had the same disappointment with your company’s service (a promise not kept, a deadline missed, a service provider who lacks necessary skills, getting the “runaround”). Included in process is, again, ensuring you are paying your team for their performance in meeting the client service goal.
And third, use technology where possible to reduce staffing costs and to standardize your process. Tamer highlights the efficiencies of CRM software for keeping client contacts organized and ensuring the entire staff is on the same page about progress with client outreach and needs.
You can’t always avoid client dissatisfaction. Tamer estimates that losing one client can cost a company $528,000 over the period that client otherwise would have engaged the firm. So when a poor client experience arises, switch into client recovery mode: apologize and acknowledge accountability, make it right in the eyes of the client, and include a “wow factor”―go above and beyond what is expected.
Journal of Financial Planning
Financial Planning Association