Provide Stellar Client Service Without Crushing Your Own Soul

July 15, 2021 | 4 minute read

Client Service

Whether you chose financial planning as a profession or it chose you, you undoubtably had a vision of helping people. On most days, that's what fuels you. 

Then there are those days when everyone needs your attention at the same time. There are those clients who ask the same questions over and over, or those who need to be repeatedly nagged to get you what you need to help them.

We all have those days when we need a reminder of our why, but when was the last time you thought about your how?  I reached out to some of our resident client support wizards to round up a few pointers on how they deliver amazing customer experiences.

Avoid Blame

by Clover, Happiness Coordinator

In my very first internship, I learned that client success is a delicate art form. Most often, no customer/client actually wants to reach out for support. Further, when they do reach out for assistance, they don’t like to be told they're wrong. 

I never tell them they caused the problem. Instead of saying, “you did x”, I say “it looks like x happened”. I need to make sure they don't get defensive so we can focus on solving the problem for them.

This small thing can make a big difference, especially when a client is frustrated and just needs someone to lend a hand. Sometimes, they just need a little extra pampering. 

Start with Agreement

By Patrick Brennan, Account Executive

Think about the best customer service experience you’ve ever had. Maybe you had been fuming, but the person who helped you turned it all around. What did they do? They listened to you, they understood where you were coming from, and—most importantly—they agreed!

Mutual understanding is a great practice with your clients and in your personal relationships.

Train yourself to AGREE before saying ANYTHING else. “I know what you’re saying” or “I understand where you’re coming from” or "You're right—that sounds like a bad experience." Then, follow up with probing questions like, “help me understand how this affected you/what would have been better/what your expectations are/etc.”  By showing interest in their thoughts, you’ll disarm them, uncover more about them, and maybe even find some unexpected common ground. 

Bond Over Food

By Isabel Leong, Community Success Manager

“What should we eat for lunch?” someone asks over breakfast.  After some debate, we decide on lunch. Put away the breakfast dishes and go about our days. A couple of hours later, it’s the same script all over again. “What’s for dinner?” someone wants to know. And thus, the debate starts all over again. 

I’m not joking, this is how 90% of conversations go with my family. When we’re not talking about food, we’re eating it, planning our next meal, taking pictures of what we cooked to share with one another, reading books by our favorite chefs, and watching documentaries about different techniques. It’s how we demonstrate our love for one another. Meals are where we make our memories. 

Even in a virtual world, the shared experience of food brings us together. It creates a bond. If you want to get to know a prospect or client better, ask them about their favorite type of cuisine, what they eat when they need comfort, or what they had for lunch. Note this in your CRM. When you need to send a holiday gift, smooth over a mistake, or express gratitude for a referral, send them their favorite food. Your thoughtfulness will be appreciated. 

Resell Yourself 

By Daniel Schloss, Account Executive

I’ve been on both sides of the sale. 

My previous job was in digital business products with a major Canadian financial institution. I frequently had sales development representatives reaching out to me to pitch me on their products and/or services. I rarely accepted these meetings because my time was limited and I was really only interested in taking calls where I could see a strong potential benefit.

This is something that we all need to be mindful of in business. Hustle hard. Ask probing questions. But be polite and mindful of the time and energy of the person across from you. Time might not be important to you, but it’s extremely valuable to them.

At my last company, we had a challenge related to customer insights at one point. A sales representative reached out to me with a solution for something relatively uninteresting and unrelated to that. I politely declined his offer because it wasn’t a need. He politely followed up, asking what my biggest challenge was. I shared with him a little bit. He thanked me for that insight and wished me well.

That same sales rep came back to me a few weeks later, politely yet persistently, and acknowledged that his previous suggestion wasn’t useful to me. Then he explained how, recognizing the challenge that I described, his company had a solution he’d like me to hear.

I loved it. This guy displayed empathy, hustle, follow-through, and courtesy. Not only does this work when bringing in new business, but it keeps existing clients happy too. When you "resell" yourself to your clients in every interaction with them, you will deliver exceptional customer service.

Practice

By Lukasz Merdzik, Head of Sales

Would you like to be better at servicing your clients? Like any other skill you wish to develop, it takes practice. Whether you're learning to speak French, play the guitar, or provide stellar client support, how you practice is key.

We’ve all tried something in our lives and, after some practice, saw little improvement. Others seemed to have a natural talent for it, so we quit. This is almost always due to the biggest lie we’ve been told since we were children: practice makes perfect. You were likely practicing the wrong thing, or in the wrong way, which is why your peer surpassed you. Practice requires more than repetitions; it requires deliberate intent. When you improve how you practice, you'll see better results.

To get started practicing better, simply break down your task into several parts and reflect on the part you struggle with the most. Then, with conscious intent, focus on what you need to do to perform that one part of the task better.

Too often, we feel we’re so busy that we need to move quickly from one task to the next, and we forget to stop and think. Try reminding yourself from time to time to take a minute to think about what you’re about to do, and how you can do it better.

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Kristina Smith

VP Partnerships, Planswell

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