What prevents many firms from offering a great client experience during a busy period is that they don’t offer a great employee experience. The client experience you build out will only be as good as the employees behind it.
No matter what size your firm, this will hold to be true. However, while great employee experiences are critical for all, they are most necessary for up-and-coming firms.
Often, newer firms with an entrepreneurial owner excel at bringing in new business. The owner, as lead advisor, is gregarious, warm and has a knack for saying the right thing at the right time.
But from a management standpoint, that same person may not have the ability to communicate the passion they have for their business to employees. Good leadership isn’t just about helping others see things your way. It’s about caring for them and being consistent in your approach.
Begin by putting employees first, above yourself, just like you would with clients.
Building a Great Experience
As you consider how to put employees first, here are five steps you can take right away to help build an exceptional experience for them:
Live Your Values: If you already have a well-written vision plan for your firm, back it up with organizational values that reflect it. Do your part to make sure those values are put into action and not just talked about.
Be Consistent: Your attitude toward others must always remain positive and consistent, in public and in private. If your team sees you saying one thing about clients in private before you turn around and treat those same clients differently in public, they’ll lose confidence in you and their own efforts will suffer.
Be Authentic: Be true to yourself and live by your values instead of trying to mimic another successful advisor. That confidence will carry through to your team.
Engage Your People: Human capital is critical to managing your firm, and getting into the thick of your company culture is required. Get to know everyone on your team on a personal level. If you create our own chaos and bad days by not having the right people in place, you further jeopardize engagement with our clients.
Hire Well: Hiring the right people from the start will set you on the right course for the first four steps. The best owners I work with know that success begins with hiring for work ethic and attitude. Knowledge of the industry can always be taught, but a poor attitude often can’t be unlearned.
Win by Building Trust
The best leaders are not always the smartest; but they know how to engage and work with others. As your organization grows, you’ll find that treating your employees well will have a tremendous effect on not only your client’s happiness, but your own.
But what happens when you make a mistake, as you inevitably will? This will present either an opportunity to build trust or lose it. Thankfully, the answer is a simple one. Apologize and move on. Most of all, don’t try to hide it when you misstep.
Another way to build trust with your team is by giving them a semblance of ownership. You need to communicate your vision so they can execute it, but you should also allow them to engage with you and help decide how to make a client experience that reflects them as well.
When employees feel trusted, they also feel valued, and they’ll put forth their best effort as a result. If you build your practice this way — from the inside out — your client experience will be better, and you and your team also will find greater satisfaction and passion in your work.
Jarrod Upton, MBA, MS, CFP, is Chief Operations and senior consultant at Herbers & Company, an independent growth consultancy for financial advisory firms. He can be reached at www.HerbersCo.com.