While working with our healthcare clients to reduce the incident-rate of malpractice suits, we discovered that there is little correlation between the competency of doctors and lawsuits filed against them. The revelation was that regardless of experience and expertise, medical staff members who had established a strong patient-doctor relationship, maintained good bedside manner, exercised transparency and acknowledged shortcomings were far less likely to be sued than those who did not exhibit those attributes. Furthermore, we learned that patients were more inclined to refer friends based on the quality of the relationship rather than the competency of the doctor. It appears that patients place enormous value on good relationships with their doctors and healthcare professionals, and are also more trusting and forgiving when they experience individual attention.
Second in order of importance to people’s physical health and that of their families (albeit a far second) is their financial health. The qualities which they expect and value in the relationship with their financial advisor are not all that different from those that they expect and value in the relationship with their doctors. Our clients desire, value (and are willing to pay for) a good advisor-client relationship. Client attention and attentiveness is part and parcel of the professional services which clients expect. When you provide individual attention with the same professionalism with which you serve their financial needs, you will inspire confidence, build robust and resilient customer loyalty, reduce litigation threats, and increase client referrals.
In this month’s Client Relationship column, I offer some guidelines to balance your professional financial services with individual client attention. This will differentiate your brand with distinction and authenticity.
With any important advisor such as a doctor, lawyer, therapist or even a trusted auto mechanic, there is security in knowing he or she is available to us when we have a problem. Even though we may never actually need to avail ourselves of this, there is comfort and security in knowing that they are there when we need them. It is the reason people pay for insurance policies even though they may never actually make a claim; it provides them with security and peace of mind.
Our clients require the same security, comfort and peace of mind. They need to feel that we are truly and credibly accessible to them whenever they may need us. It is not sufficient to just tell them that we are available. We need to restate, respond and react.
Restate: Always be sure to reiterate to your clients that you will make yourself available to them as needed. Telling them once at the beginning of the relationship will not assure them. They will need to hear a consistent message to feel at ease.
Respond: The fastest way to undermine your credibility is not to follow through on what you promise. Anytime your client does try to reach you, be sure to respond as soon as practically and reasonably possible, even if only to say: “I received your message and will get back to you within 24 hours.” This will go a long way in building and maintaining credibility.
React: If there is any action required on your part as a result of your client contacting you, react and deliver reliably and swiftly. By reacting and responding assiduously to your clients’ requests, you will support that which you have restated to them. They will experience you as an attentive and accessible advisor who takes them seriously.
Maintain Ongoing Communication