Sponsored by Commonwealth Financial Network.
By Kristine McManus
The little things in life can go a long way. Often, though, advisors overlook opportunities right in front of them and instead look for some wondrous new thing that could give their firm a long overdue revamp. Here’s how focusing on a frequently overlooked little thing—the telephone—can make a big impact on your business.
Connect Your Brand to Your Phone Strategy
I talk to advisors all the time, and what I’ve noticed is a disconnect between how some offices answer the phone and the brand they’re trying to convey. For example, a telephone prompt system (press 1 for Advisor X, press 2 for Advisor Y) may not be appropriate if you claim to have high-touch service or offer personal attention. Why give a prospect a reason to doubt you from the very first phone call?
If your staff is responsible for incoming calls, it’s a good idea to have a script written out that clearly conveys how the phone should be answered. Are you casual and friendly, in which case an informal greeting might work, or are you a bit more formal? You should also think about the intangibles, such as tone of voice and attitude. Do clients sense a smile from your receptionist’s voice, or do they feel rushed? These small cues can make a big difference in how clients perceive their experience of working with you.
Finally, be sure to consider what happens when a caller is put on hold. What music plays in the background? As this is another way to convey your brand, you probably don’t want to have punk rock blasting—unless you think your ideal clients would enjoy listening to it—or have clients hear “Baby Got Back” when they're not expecting it. (Both of which have happened to me, by the way!)
Always Think About the Next Call
Ideally, the seeds of a referral should be sown before the caller gets off the phone. There are lots of ways to get more impact here, so let’s look at a typical exchange that takes place when a client needs assistance.
Client: Thanks so much for putting a rush on that check last week. We were leaving for vacation, and I needed that done before I left.
Staff: It was our pleasure.
Most advisors would be happy to leave it right there: The client feels satisfied and the staffer was polite. But what if your staff person had been trained on what to say and gave a different reply that could move your business forward?
Staff: I’m pleased that I could help you! Small business owners are the hardest working people I know, and I’m so glad you were able to get away for a few days. [Advisor name] and I just love working with business owners like yourself. Did you enjoy your trip?
Can you see how the advisor’s impact is dramatically increased in the second exchange, offering opportunities? Specifically, the client gets off the phone feeling valued and appreciated and likely takes away that her advisor really loves working with business owners. That’s how referrals happen. So if you haven’t discussed phone skills with your staff within the past year, put it on the agenda for the next staff meeting!
Follow Up with Kindness Calls
If you show that you value your clients—even through a simple call—your relationships will prosper and your business will thrive. Here's just one example: An advisor I know makes a plan to telephone 10 to 12 clients every week. He calls just to say hello, to ask about their families, or to share a funny story. There’s no agenda other than making a personal connection, and his clients are pleased their advisor just likes to talk to them. If no one answers, he leaves a brief message to let clients know he’s thinking about them. The advisor says that these calls are one of the primary reasons he’s been able to grow his business.
It’s All About Connecting
These simple ideas to gain more impact from the everyday phone call can be easily implemented in just about every practice. By changing a few simple things in your practice, you could be on your way to your best year yet.
This post originally appeared on Commonwealth Independent Advisor, a blog authored by subject-matter experts at Commonwealth Financial Network®, the nation’s largest privately held independent broker/dealer–RIA. To subscribe, please visit http://blog.commonwealth.com/.
Kristine McManus is chief business development officer, practice management, at Commonwealth Financial Network®, member FINRA/SIPC, an independent broker/dealer–RIA.