Patrick Schartz is the Director of Advisor Development at LeadingResponse. He has worked in the industry for 19 years and been with the company for over 13 years, focusing on client experience.
Like all consumers, advisors have discovered the product or service they pay for is only part of the equation. What also matters is if they are treated well and spoken to kindly – or if they are ignored, marginalized, or devalued. It’s the overall experience that counts. In so many cases, we find it falls way short.
The Case of Ruby Tuesday and Other Chain Restaurants
Ruby Tuesday filed for bankruptcy recently and closed 185 restaurants. I am not convinced that anyone ever purposely set out to go to Ruby Tuesday’s. They wound up there because the endless breadsticks at the Olive Garden were causing lines to form across the parking lot shared by the two restaurants.
Even with breadsticks, however, no low to mid-level chain restaurant provides a memorable client (diner) experience. There are plenty of amazing restaurants cooking up fantastic dishes and delivering even better experiences. So if I am paying the same price for rubber chicken served with a side of bad attitude, as I am for a made-from-scratch meal at, say, my local Greek restaurant (complete with breaking plates, flaming cheese and belly dancers), I’m screaming OPA!!! and saying adios to mediocrity.
How Does the Financial and Insurance Industry Client Experience Compare?
This principle also applies to our industry, whether you are an advisor, IMO, direct marketing agency or insurance carrier. If we fail to provide phenomenal client service, someone else will happily disrupt our cushy one-sided relationships.
A great client experience starts with the first phone call, handshake, Zoom meeting, dinner seminar, or all the above. And it doesn’t stop there. You better make sure your clients understand that you care about them and you’re putting their needs first.
Be Exceptional if You Want Your Clients to Stick Around
Being ordinary is easy. In fact, it has become commonplace for so many businesses and employees. You need to look for ways to be exceptional if you want to stand out from all your competitors and colleagues.
You’ve got to do things differently than they’ve always been done. Your clients are trusting you to change their lives for the better. There is no greater feeling – for me anyway – than when my clients send me emails like the ones below.
Email from August 2020
From: Nick **** <nick*********@******.com>
Sent: Thursday, August 6, 2020 12:24 PM
To: Patrick Schartz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: GoldStar Seminar Report for VA
Thank you! Talking to (ADVISOR NAME) and I will get him over to you. This ROCKS!! I have never seen a report that looked like this, wow!!
This is HUGE, I cannot wait to use this with my other producers. Patrick, we are going to light it up, I have so many producers who would love your insight and help, they are not getting anything like this from (IMO NAME), or whoever they work with now.
The next one was sent to me by a longtime client who, despite battling health issues, took the time to say thank you for what we had done for him. A month later, he passed away. This was an exceptional guy.
Email From February 2020
From: Michael ******* <*********@gmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2020 9:37 AM
To: Marketing Information <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 2020 Growth for Advisors
I hope all is well with you and your family. I want you to know what an important part you played in my being able to retire. I will never forget you or your company.
May God Bless you all.
My point is, clients don’t write emails like these if you’re doing exactly the same thing as your competition or your colleagues. You must be unique in your approach, timely with your responses, invested in the work you produce, and caring about the people you produce it for.
Deciding to Offer an Exceptional Client Experience
It’s possible for anyone to be exceptional at what they do, though it took a long time and some struggles before I understood that. I flunked out of college twice, before finally graduating 7 1/2 years after I started.
Later on, I failed miserably when I went into business for myself. I went bankrupt, lost two homes and a car, and I had a baby on the way. I worked three menial jobs around the clock to provide for my family, and vowed never to go through that again.
Then I realized how I could provide value to my clients. It was by putting myself in their shoes and truly recognizing their experiences (both good and bad) from my side of the industry. Doing so allowed me to overcome the weaknesses of our business, and enhance the strengths.
Final Thoughts on Client Experience
Now that you’ve heard my story, I hope you understand how you can be exceptional for your own clients. When you are, your entire relationship with them changes, because it becomes one that you both cherish.
And speaking of exceptional – we’ve teamed up with Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar so you can offer your clients a best-in-class event experience.
If you have any questions about this article, or would like to discuss the topic of client experience, feel free to call me at 813-885-8245, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.