reputationOne of my favorite sayings is “to give tender loving care you must think like a client.”  It’s a pretty simple statement and at the same time I think it carries a tremendous amount of power.  What do you think?

If I was you I would say OK, that’s a nice saying but what does it have to do with my wealth management firm.  If you’re curious read on.

Thinking like a client puts you in a different place.

When you pretend that you’re a client using your service you’re going to ask yourself different questions.  The hard part about doing this is you have to take off your expert hat and put on the hat of someone who knows relatively little about planning, investments and risk management.  That might be a really hard thing for you to do.

Would you be thrilled with your firm if you were a client?

With a beginners mind be tough on yourself.  If you’re a client and you’re thrilled with your firm’s service how would you let the world know?  Do you find that your clients are doing this with you?  If not, your clients just might not be as thrilled as you think they are.

Even if your clients don’t complain (and not many ever do) they might not be as happy as you would like them to be.  If you are getting raves about what you provide, how are you leveraging those raves? 

We all know that you can’t use testimonials.  You can ask your clients this question instead:  “What would you do if you were me to get the word out about what you just told me?”  You just might be surprised by their answer.

What specifically are you thrilled about?

Ah, back to you pretending you’re a client.  What would you be thrilled about?  Is this something that can be repeated?  Is it something that’s narrow enough so others would know that you’re special?  The smaller the group that appreciates you, the easier it’s going to be for you to find more people who would appreciate the same thing.

I know this sounds counter intuitive and it is.  When a huge group appreciates something it’s really hard for anyone else to learn about it.  If a small group appreciates it you can be sure that it’s easy for others in that group to find out.  Just think about how you find out about great things.  I bet it’s from a smaller group of people.

How can you build on this?

I’m a big fan of appreciative inquiry.   A simple explanation of this is that when you find something that goes well ask yourself what else you can do that builds on what’s good.

If you find something your firm does that you really like ask yourself how you can use the same principle to do more of it in your firm.  If you like your first conversation with your clients, how can you use the same principles in other conversations you have with COI’s or people who might be clients.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

Is there something you need to fix?

Sometimes clients just don’t like certain things.  I know that I’ve found my clients hate long and complicated reports.  It makes them feel dumb and they don’t see much value in them.  They never told me this.  I had to find out about this through our client advisory board.

Your clients aren’t going to tell you what you need to fix, you’re going to have to ask them.  Remember, the highest value you provide your clients is that you think through problems with them.  You usually don’t have to bury them with proof.  That’s what trust is all about.

It’s really about being systematic.

Building a reputation you can be proud of is hundreds of little things you do.  It’s about choosing the right clients.  It’s about doing the right things with your clients.  And, it’s about thinking like your clients.  I know it’s hard to do and with practice you can get really good at it.

My question for you today is are you willing to practice?  At first you’ll feel awkward and over time it’ll feel very natural.  Just like when you learned anything that was worthwhile.  Not hard, just a little awkward.

Do you like this idea?  If so, let me know.

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Topics: reputation management, Marketing, strategic marketing

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