We live in an ever changing world. Take your eye off the papers or TV for only a few days and the rest of the world seems to be dealing with, and talking about, issues you know nothing about.
This is the information age and we are force-fed a diet of news and product, constantly. Forget noise pollution, we are now assailed by visual pollution, you cannot open your eyes without someone’s brand or message prompting you to buy or sell.
Occasionally you can find yourself in a space where time has seemingly stood still, there is no road noise, there are no adverts and your soul actually feels lighter and more at peace. I suppose that is the real purpose of a holiday, the ability to allow our minds and bodies to recover before we return to the hectic world we now live within.
So here we are in 2008 and to be honest like many I am not sure where 2007 went to! There have been major changes in our industry over the last twelve months and as difficult as they have been for some, I think we arrive in 2008 with a far better client offering than the one we had only twelve months ago.
While I was away on my break (which felt like 15 minutes!), I started thinking about our industry and financial services in general. What are the key ingredients and what makes one organisation stand out from another, how can you be different? The bottom line is that we can either chase performance or we can guarantee quality service, performance is always an illusive beast and if pursued with too much vigour can be dangerous.
On the other hand service is deliverable, despite the fact that to some it is a little dull and boring, it is simply a promise we can always keep.
An American courier company has a great logo, “We Keep Your Promises”, the fact that I can’t remember which courier company it is probably says more about my age than their poor advertising. The first time I ever read that line I was hit by its simple brilliance and I knew that in our company we must always, “Keep Our Promises”.
As far as I am concerned the client is not just King, the client is simply everything. Without the client you are nothing and without service and care the client will leave or never feel they were with you in the first place.
So what can differentiate you from the opposition? It is simple, the dull repetitious delivery of service and client attention. It is not rocket science and it is not as exciting as flying an investment rocket, but it is what people want. There are some incredible people in financial services and some wonderful and very clever products, however, I personally believe that financial services are on the whole “sold” to clients, as opposed to being “sought out” by clients. The new breed of broker and financial planner in SA is of good standing and great quality, I am sure therefore that the after sales service now delivered to clients is better that ever before.
So, here we are back at work and 2008 is now firmly upon us. To many people my little message may seem boring and repetitive, but then that is what service can often seem like. That is, however, unless you realise that it is the very lifeblood of our industry and it is what will see one man standing many years from now, when many others will have fallen away.
OK then, I will shut up, but before I go one last little thought. Why not reject the 80/20 rule? That is the rule that says invest 80% of your time in the 20% largest or most affluent of your clients. Why not rather accept the 100% rule, this one says treat all your clients the same, care for them all individually and watch how their loyalty and respect will grow and repay you.
If you have 10, 100 or 1000 clients, wouldn’t you prefer to have 100% of them as walking adverts for you and your business, rather than 20%? Would you not prefer 100% of your clients referring their friends and colleagues to you, it’s just a thought!