Who Is Your Voice?

We all know that good client service is one of the keys to developing long-term client relationships. As I travel around the country meeting with advisors, the one common theme is that they feel their client service is superior. How then do they blow it when it comes to one of the most important aspects of building long-term client satisfaction? Why don’t they see what is right in front of them?

Not sure what I’m getting at? Try calling your own office as a client. Who is your voice?

Years ago, when I lived in another state, I worked with a great CPA, Jim (not his real name). He was smart, timely, and efficient. Jim’s fees were very reasonable and I really enjoyed our working relationship. My challenge, however, was trying to reach Jim, on the phone or in person, without speaking to his receptionist. She was so bitter that I felt uncomfortable picking up the phone and calling. It was as if she growled the partner’s names when “greeting” callers. When I had to go to the office, she looked as if it pained her to get out of her chair to walk to the front of the office to greet me and ask who I wanted to see (I had been coming there for 10 years.)

Ultimately, I reverted to email, or leaving voicemails after hours and trying hard not to come in to the office. The real scary part is that Jim knew how bad the secretary’s phone manners were, but claimed that she was so good at her other responsibilities that he had to keep her.

Now, let me ask you – if you had a client that thought you were smart, timely and efficient and you two had a great working relationship and he felt your fees were in line, wouldn’t you think that client would score high in client satisfaction and refer you to all of his friends and family? Do you think I ever referred anyone to Jim? Absolutely not — I know they would have received the same “treatment” that I received from his receptionist.

Take the ugly look at your business and I don’t mean just at what you do, but all that surrounds you. First and foremost, the person who answers your phone should have a pleasant voice and be as helpful as possible. And that person should carry the same pleasant demeanor when greeting visitors in your office. Just as you are focused on relationship-building, so should your office staff.

When evaluating your employees, consider rewarding them for representing you and your firm in a positive light to clients and prospects.

Here are some tips on how your office telephone should be answered.

John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

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