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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Better service equals better referrals

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Here are some ideas to help you enhance your “referability” by improving your client service:

Know your competition

When you know your competition well, it not only gives you a selling advantage early on, but also continues to help you serve and sell to your client throughout the relationship. You should always serve your clients with the knowledge that they are your competitors’ prospects.

Do you know what pressures your clients are under to move their business? Do you know what they say to all those other financial professionals who call them? If you don’t, I suggest you get to know your clients better and find out. The more you know about your competition, the more you can do to make sure you are better than they are.

Your clients may not use you for all their financial needs. Do you know who else they are using and why? Do you know what they like and dislike about them? Not only will you learn from this, you may also find opportunities to increase your percentage of the business they do with you.

Get to know your clients better

Whenever possible, get to know your clients beyond what brought you together in the first place. Form business friendships with as many clients as you can. Get to know them as people. Take a genuine interest in them. Not every client wants you to do this, but most will appreciate it.

The clients who give me the best referrals and continue to give me referrals long after I’ve served them are those I now count as business friends. If your attitude is strictly business, you are probably missing tons of opportunities for referrals, not to mention more business from your existing clients.

Bottom line: Creating business friendships increases client loyalty and enhances your referability.

6 reasons to survey clients over the phone

You should be constantly asking your clients, “How am I doing?” and, “If we could do one thing better, what would it be?”

And you should be asking these questions over the phone – not in writing. Here are six reasons to conduct your client surveys over the phone:

1. You obtain more useful information – it is easier to talk than it is to write.

2. You demonstrate how much you care about serving them well.

3. You obtain more honest information – it is easier to “open up” over the phone than in person.

4. Your response rate will be much higher – close to 100%.

5. This is another personal contact with your clients.

6. You can communicate feelings and intentions much better in a conversation than you can in writing.

(How to call your referral prospects)

7 little things that can lead to big things

1. Serve your clients by giving referrals. If they have a need, financial or otherwise, and you’re not the right person to serve them, connect them with someone who can. Follow up to make sure your referral has “gone through.”

2. Don’t just be there for them from 9 to 5. Hand-write your cell phone number on your business card as you give it to them. They’ll likely never use it unless they really need to, but it reassures them.

3. Keep your word. Doing what you’re supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it, is the very minimum required to provide good client service and get referrals.

4. When something goes wrong – and it will – apologize. When you apologize, you’re not admitting fault, you’re just sorry they are being inconvenienced. It reduces tension because it demonstrates you are there for them. (Almost no one in business ever says they’re sorry.) Then, immediately after you apologize, fix the problem as quickly as possible. Even if it’s too late to fix the problem, they’ll feel better if you really listen to them.

5. Set high service standards for yourself and your firm, and tell your clients about them.

6. If a client stops doing business with you, don’t burn the bridge. Go out of your way to make them feel comfortable about coming back.

7. Say “thank you” every time you get the chance.

Referral Coach International President Bill Cates, CSP, recently released The Referral Advantage(TM) Video Training Program. He is the author of the books, “Get More Referrals Now!” and “Don’t Keep Me a Secret!” He also writes a free referral newsletter with 30,000+ subscribers. For more information, contact Bill at [email protected] or visit


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