One of my great loves in life is music, and I have spent many years working on the side as a professional singer, director and producer. My music mentor has a perspective on client impressions that I’ll never forget, and it’s simply this: “You only get one chance at a first impression.”
How much thought have you given to your client experience? Always try to view things through the lens of your clients. How are they greeted when they call the office, and what do they experience when they walk through your front door? What does your physical office environment communicate? How do you create a memorable experience?
I want my clients to feel that they are part of our family, and that they are very important to us. Consequently, when anyone calls our office, they are greeted with five very important words:
“How may I serve you?”
That messaging is continued into our office when they are greeted by our receptionist, and into the conference room where I build a relationship with the client. I want our client process to communicate very clearly that our No. 1 goal in everything we do is to serve their needs. I also want the environment to feel warm and inviting, and I want it to communicate success without being too ostentatious.
I want my clients to actually look forward to our time together. When they come into our office, they’re greeted by the smells of freshly baked cookies. We have a café where they can order coffees, teas, fruit-flavored water and sodas. And, we don’t just point them in the direction of the coffee maker; we physically serve them whatever they wish. I have many clients that routinely arrive 15 minutes early so they can relax with a cookie and fresh tea or coffee.
How does your staff interact with clients?
If you have a staff, I think it’s also critical that your staff understands how to communicate with clients while they’re waiting for the appointment. We never know what kind of baggage someone may be bringing into the office. They may want conversation, but they may simply want to be left alone so they can catch their breath while they await their time with you.
What types of reading materials do you keep on hand? Do you have flowers and/or greenery? Does the office feel like your home, while maintaining a professional business standard?
Everything you do communicates something. The question is, “what?” As you conduct your business planning for 2013 and beyond, I urge you to spend a great deal of time breaking down your entire client process. Try as much as you can to view it through the lens of your client, and identify how you can stand out from the crowd of other advisors in your market. I believe the process will be invaluable to the future direction of your business.
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