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Clients expect you to do a good job. It’s the reason why they hired you in the first place, after all, and although achieving this minimum expectation may present all sorts of genuine challenges it will not, on its own, lead to client delight.
So, what does matter to clients?
Well, fostering trust and a genuine dialogue is crucial. As an investment consultancy, and as a fiduciary manager that assigns an investment consultant to each client, this underlies everything we do. The most brilliant investment idea in the world is of no use to a client if we can’t explain to them why it’s so good.
As Victoria Milford, trustee of the Comet Pension Scheme, told us in the 2015 P-Solve client satisfaction survey, “it is the ability to come up with new ideas that deliver a result, and to put this in (almost) layman’s terms, so we can understand and make a considered decision”.
An essential part of this is to get on the client’s wavelength. And that means listening, carefully, and gauging their responses to events, remarks and suggestions.
And that’s especially true when you’re at fault.
Clients do not expect perfection. They expect high quality work delivered on time in the manner they need, but they know things go wrong sometimes. But what they do insist upon is candour and humility. Fundamentally, they need to know you understand what this means to them and that you’re on top of the situation.
Conversely, helping clients in areas they didn’t expect, if feasible and reasonable, can be a real bonus. It may not be part of your job as defined by contract, but if you are in a position to help a client at little or no cost to yourself, wouldn’t you want to?
As Ellie McKinnon, chief executive of the Cheviot Trust, told us in our client satisfaction survey, clients respond warmly to advisers who are “proactive and willing to think outside the box” and who are “very much part of our team”.
Moreover, whatever good work you do, your client has to feel sure it’s not just you, it’s the firm. That they can be sure of good service no matter which members of staff provide it.
“It was gratifying to learn from the 2015 P-Solve client satisfaction survey that 99% of our clients are satisfied with us”
It’s important to ask your clients what they think about you. That is not only to check for current issues, but to see where to focus for improvement.
So it was gratifying to learn from the 2015 P-Solve client satisfaction survey that 99% of our clients are satisfied with us, that 85% are either ‘very satisfied’ or ‘delighted’, and that 98% of them would recommend us.
Ninety-eight percent of our clients were ‘satisfied’ with our timely implementation of new investment ideas, but only 72% were ‘very satisfied or better’. And that still leaves 28% that think we could do better – we’re working on it!
Client satisfaction is not just a by-product of the service we provide; it is a fundamental driver of the success of our business. We put our clients first because we know that happy clients lead to a successful business for us.