As I was getting ready for an adventure to Greenland last year with my wife, I was in the market for a new pair of pants; pants versatile and rugged enough for the expedition we were about to embark on. I landed on a pair that seemed up to the task. However, they were so expensive the company even referred to them as “gear,” and in my eyes they cost a small fortune. I generally shop the clearance rack at clearance stores, so I agonized over the decision and finally justified in my purchase because the manufacturer offered an unconditional warranty and I planned to wear my new “gear” on many adventures.
Fast forward a couple of months, and the pocket zipper on my new “gear” ripped and separated. My initial reaction was disappointment and feeling let down, but I recalled the warranty, went on the company’s website and began filling out the forms. It was easy, and within minutes, I had printed off the shipping label and sent them off. A couple of days later, I received an email: “We received your pants and have started the repairs.” Then, another email letting me know my pant repair was complete and being shipped back. A couple of days later, a package arrived at my home, but the package didn’t hold my repaired pants. Instead, I found a brand new pair, a ball cap with the company’s logo and a note reassuring me that they stand behind their “gear.” I was stunned. I shouted to my wife to tell her and have told dozens of people since. On top of that, I’ve purchased several other pieces of gear from them since.
So why am I telling you this story? Simply put, there are some powerful business lessons at play here on how to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one. I often hear from advisors searching for strategies to grow and market their practice, but oftentimes the best way to grow your business is to deliver exceptional “tell your friends” service. Steve Moore reminded us of this in our podcast episode Start selling through clients: “The best sales strategy is exceptional service.” Second, and perhaps more important, many advisors focus on telling their stories, bragging about their firm, their values, etc., to earn new clients, but by doing only this, you end up sounding like everyone else. However, when something goes wrong and it impacts your clients (for example, you lost a form, the market correction impacted their plan, data was not refreshed on their portal, etc.), you have the opportunity to showcase your value reminding them why they hired you. Even today, many advisors and firms don’t have rapid response plans.
When creating your rapid response plan (or reviewing your existing one), start with the basics:
- What are your principles for when things go wrong? And what will you not do?
Examples: We will address the specific issues head on; We will drop everything else to make things right for our clients; If we caused the issue, we will apologize; If not, we will make it our problem. We will not make excuses.
- What are you and your staff empowered to do?
- What is your communication strategy?
Examples: Establish the communication method(s) and frequency to keep clients informed on the situation; Think about how you can add the “wow factor” along the way.
- Finally, what is your process to debrief post-event?
Example: Specify ways to assure your clients that you are taking steps to prevent these types of incidents moving forward.
Every week, it seems, we see companies in the news dealing with a client-facing crisis that could jeopardize their business. While some events might be small and others larger, the last thing you want is for the issue to go viral. Those that have a plan in place are more likely to come out unscathed. When you’re prepared for the unexpected and can provide exceptional service during a crisis, your clients will appreciate you even more and may even tell their friends.
As Mike Tyson once so famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” At some point, we all will face a client issue. These unfortunate circumstances are fantastic opportunities to live your brand and create raving fans for your practice. Start drafting a rapid response plan today so you can be prepared to wow your clients in the face of the unexpected.
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