4 Overlooked Ways To Cultivate A Quality Client Experience

Matthew Jarvis, CFP®, shares four ways to improve your client experience, from setting the stage to asking the right questions and serving as your client’s financial guide.

5.5 min read

One Little Thing Advisors Do To Tank Onboarding
Matthew Jarvis
Financial Planner, CFP®

If I go to a restaurant with filth all over the floor, will that impact my food? Probably not in the literal sense, but it certainly influences my experience.

What if the waiter brings my food out on a styrofoam plate and hands over plastic utensils—does that change the food? No, but it does change the quality.

I often hear advisors complain that a prospective client went to an insurance or annuity salesperson and bought an annexed annuity instead of hiring the advisor.

If your advice is solid as an advisor, why would the prospect ever consider leaving?

Your prospect left because that other person provided such a good experience that the client was willing to overlook that terrible idea and buy into it. 

I’ve learned that if you don’t provide an outstanding prospect experience, they’ll likely end up with some charlatan who gives them a terrific experience despite giving terrible advice

So, if you believe in your heart of hearts that you’re providing sound financial advice, you better be providing an outstanding client experience; otherwise, it’s all for not.

Because when push comes to shove, when the market dives twenty or even fifty percent, and your client is ready to make a grave mistake, the amount of confidence and credibility you’ve created will make all the difference in the world.

Here are four overlooked ways to improve your client experience and boost credibility.

Everything counts during your meeting experience

    You should be hyper-aware of the client experience whenever you walk through your office. I always check how my books are lined up on the shelf. I look for dust hiding in the corners and check to ensure the chairs are in the right spots and not slammed against the wall.

    The other day, I walked in and noticed that something smelled a little off. After searching my office for the source of the smell, I found a trash can that had a week-old lunch moldering. I personally bagged it up and took it out.

    You want to fix anything that could interfere with your client experience, big or small.

    When shaking hands with clients, are your hands cold, wet, or clammy? Did you just go to the bathroom and not dry them all the way? It just feels weird to shake hands with someone whose hands are cold or wet.

    It only takes a second to address why your hands are cold (for example, you just stepped outside), and the last thing I want to do is make my client think I’m frigidly cold-blooded and heartless. 

    Ask the right questions

    In your heart of hearts, you should want to know what concerns are on your prospective client’s minds because you can only be most effective and change their lives when you do. 

    Many armchair advisors who sling advice online insist that you should be asking prospects close-ended questions such as: 

    Do you have any more questions are concerns?

    However, it’s too easy for clients to simply answer “no” without further explanation. 

    If you really want to draw out a thoughtful response from your clients, you need to employ more open-ended questions such as:

    What other questions and concerns do you have today?

    And then, you need to show that you genuinely want to know their answer; it must be reflected in your voice and body language. You need to be leaning forward and looking into their eyes. This may feel melodramatic for the inexperienced, but it’s not; we’re just not used to experiencing genuine interest.

    Stick to your processes

    Many years ago, a perfect prospective client came to see me near the end of the year for some tax advice. This prospect had increased their income considerably during the year, and they were concerned about getting killed in taxes.

    I was so excited to land this perfect client that I skipped my entire prospect process and jumped to the meeting portion, where I talked about taxes. I gave them all the strategies we used then, and this prospect jotted it all down. Then they left my office, and I never heard from them again.

    While I did my best to answer their specific question, I failed to highlight all other nuances in their situation by skipping my process. 

    I didn’t show them how these tax strategies fit into the grand scheme of their financial situation, and I didn’t make them aware of other legitimate issues they needed to be mindful of. All of this was swept under the rug because I was excited by one question. 

    Sometimes in your prospect process or even in client meetings, you’ll get too comfortable with the client and be tempted to skip your process—don’t do it because it’ll blow up on you every time. 

    You have a process in place for a reason—stick to it no matter what.

    Serve as their guide

    Recently, my family rafted down the Grand Canyon with a group of guides, creating a phenomenal experience. We didn’t pack the supplies, inflate the rafts, or navigate our course, and I didn’t don’t know anything about the skills involved. 

    But I still tell people my family rafted the Grand Canyon because the guides helped us through the experience. They didn’t carry us or put us on a motored raft to power through the rapids, which would have been an entirely different experience.

    Thanks to the direction from our guides, my family could paddle our raft and participate in the adventure under our own power. 

    You need to guide your clients in much the same way. When a client comes to you with a problem, you shouldn’t be solving it for them but instead ask for their strategy for handling the issue. 

    You’ll be able to glimpse their mindset on the issue and get a direction for solutions they already have in mind. By asking about their strategy, you can also coax out any details they may not have shared with you yet and serve as a sounding board for them. 

    Usually, my clients already have a rock-solid answer for their problems. However, through our discussion, I can share ways I’d approach the problem and provide a formula to help them solve other issues in the future.  

    Action Items

    ● Always go into your meeting prepared with your agenda. Be sure to elicit any questions and concerns your client may have to guide your conversation.

    ● Roleplay how you’d work through your agenda word for word with another advisor or team member.

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