If you are an agent or advisor who gets angry when even the smallest criticism comes your way, if you feel irritated whenever a client makes a suggestion or questions your advice, then you’re probably in the wrong business. Clients do have opinions, and they are judging how you conduct yourself and how you interact with them. Unfortunately, many clients choose to keep those opinions to themselves until the day they decide to leave you.
Nearly every agent or advisor knows the sting of client pushback and criticism. In the digital age, disgruntled clients and prospects can share unflattering comments about you and your practice more quickly and in more places at once.
Given the weight that many people place on reviews and ratings, it’s easy to become thin-skinned and defensive. After all, a negative review could mean the difference between landing a desirable client and losing that prospect. Compounding matters is the difficulty you can encounter attempting to remove bad reviews and comments from the internet.
What if I told you that you could decrease criticism by inviting it?
It may sound antithetical, I realize. However, many financial services people create better client experiences and manage expectations more efficiently by inviting their clients to critique them. Using what is known as an advisor scorecard, advisors accomplish several things, including answering some of the most common questions that clients have, such as:
- “What does my advisor DO with my money?”
- Are they meeting my expectations and goals?
- How can I know my agent or advisor is doing an excellent job for me?
- Is my risk being managed adequately?
Asking your valued customers to quantify the value you bring to their lives may seem daunting. But doing so can reveal potentially useful data and identify weaknesses and inefficiencies in your practice. It can also help you remedy problems before they wind up on someone’s blog or social media page.
A simple one-page survey is one of the easiest ways to create and deploy an advisor scorecard. The survey should be easy to understand and as short as possible. Most importantly, make it available digitally on your website or via text messaging. If you want to ensure that as many of your prospects and clients complete the scorecard, you might offer an incentive, such as a gift card or book. If you do provide incentives, be sure to reduce your regulatory risk by checking with your compliance department ahead of time.
Practical and user-friendly scorecards consist of 10-12 questions, formatted in various ways. The typical survey uses the following kinds of questions.
Ranking (Scale) Questions: “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank your experience with our firm?”
Closed-Ended Questions: “Do you feel our fees are reasonable, yes or no?”
Open-Ended Questions: This asks the client to write a sentence or several sentences in their own words. “Describe your top money concerns at this point in your life.”
Multiple Choice Questions: “Which of the following is most important to you?”
What comes after your clients return their surveys is perhaps the most critical part of your scorecard initiative. Clients want to know that their concerns are being taken seriously by you and your staff.
For example, suppose several of the scorecard respondents have observed that you don’t stay in touch with them. In that case, you could develop an automated outreach system to ensure that warm “touches” occur consistently. All constructive criticisms should be addressed, from long telephone hold times to too many (or not enough) emails, a confusing or incomplete website, or lack of diversity in your product offerings.
When you solve these issues, be sure to reach out to those who made the suggestions, let them know that you’ve fixed the problem, and thank them for bringing it to your attention. While initially, it can be painful to ask your prospects and clients to evaluate and criticize your practice, doing so will benefit you now and in the future.
Gathering data from advisor scorecards and other surveys will assist you in “tweaking” your business. You will eliminate inefficiencies and waste, offer those who do business with you a superior concierge-type experience, and set yourself apart from other advisors.
Mike Kaminski is an income planner at Well Being Financial Group in Center Valley, Pennsylvania.