Posts Tagged 'Retention'

Give Credit Where Credit is Due


As a professional advisor, sometimes it is easy to think that it is all about you.

Most advisors have staff or are part of a team.

Don’t forget to give them credit!

Your staff is likely your most valuable asset. You could not do you job effectively without them. You must let them know it.

There are many studies out there but time and time again, the number one most effective thing is to let them know they are appreciated.

This appreciation can easily be shown in some simple ways:

  • Say “thank you” – the most appreciated.
  • Buy lunch for the office yourself – Have a monthly employee lunch where one staff picks lunch for the entire office and you buy.
  • Give them a paid day off – Particularly if you see they are stressed. Do it spontaneously – “Take tomorrow off, you earned it”
  • Atta boy/girl certificates – AAA sells gift certificates good for area restaurants – give them out.
  • Tickets – perhaps you get offered tickets for events (concerts, theater, sporting events) – give them to your staff or, just buy them some.

And tell you clients how much you appreciate your staff. They will let your staff know too.

Guide – You are not a one person show. Don’t forget it.

Action Item – Let your staff/team know how hard they work and that you could not do it without them. Be sure to show them.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

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Are you clients having a great experience?


As I was searching for my topic this week, my wife, Kathy, reminded me of the awful experience we are going through with our own local community bank.

Let me share my client? (or just a customer?) experience.

We wrote a check from our home equity line of credit (HELOC) for a planned purchase.

The first letter arrived and asked us if we were having trouble paying our bills because our home equity payment was late.

We had just sent in many thousands of dollars.

Ok, fine….

The second letter arrived and said that our loan was due in full.

Ok, fine….

I called my “personal banker” who very nicely informed me that our line HELOC had expired.

She let me know that they had honored our draw-down even though “they were not supposed to” and informed me that the loan needed to be re-written.

My personal banker delivered the paperwork to be completed but it was all blank.

Ok, fine….

Two days later, my “business banker” from the same bank called to introduce himself as my new business banker.

He is called to TELL me that I needed to refile my annual paperwork for my business line of credit.

He faxed over the cover letter of requirements and a blank (fax of a fax of a fax) form for me to complete.

Ok, fine…

We submitted everything (I was just slightly peeved) and they called to schedule a closing.

I requested that we have the meeting at my office and they agreed to meet in two weeks. Two days before the appointment, there was a message on my HOME answering machine informing me that they would be late.

Ok, fine….

Both loans were underwritten and approved. We had a closing that lasted about 10 minutes and they were all smiles as they went on their way.

I requested a copy of the appraisal for review which they promptly faxed over. Turns out I live in a 2 story home with 2.5 baths. (Neither was accurate!)

Ok, fine….

The following week we made a very substantial payment towards our HELOC and back in the mail came a loan statement.

On the statement was a handwritten note: “this is the wrong acct#”

Ok, fine….

So my spouse said “If we ran our business like this we would be out of business.  I would like a new bank please.”

Here is my summary of what should have happened in my humble opinion (Of course I assumed we were a valuable client of this bank):

  • A call letting us know our HELOC was expiring and needed to be re-written.
  • A completed set of populated forms arrive for our signature.
  • A call updating us on the process as we went through it.
  • A call to our office to reschedule or at least ask if it was ok if they were going to be late.
  • A call letting us know our account number would be changing or has changed.

Don’t treat YOUR client like we were treated.

  • Communicate the process – Even it is negative (your mistake OR theirs).
  • Remember to say please and thank you.
  • Remember that they are the client and you want their business.
  • Provide an extraordinary experience and they will be loyal advocates for years to come.




Guide – Client service is about the experience and not just the result.

Action Item – Make sure your clients are getting an experience better than they expect. This will make them advocates, not just customers.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved


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Getting Your Brand “Followed”

Are your clients and prospects interested in what you are doing?

Should they be?

It seems to me that if they are interested, there must be some sense of loyalty. If there is loyalty, then you have a stronger relationship with that client or prospect.

Forrester Research just released a paper predicting that web sites will become less and less important as people want very specific information pushed at them by their service providers.(

Will this content delivery be email, social media OR some new and as yet undeveloped platform? Too soon to tell.

So what are you doing NOW to keep people following, interested and loyal to YOUR brand?

Here are some thoughts! (Keep in mind that some of these may require regulatory approval PRIOR to usage.)

  • an emailed newsletter
  • a Blog
  • a Twitter site (or multiple Twitter sites for different lines of business)
  • a Linkedin profile
  • a Facebook page
  • a Facebook fan page
  • emailed commentary
  • seminars
  • press releases
  • writing for a newspaper
  • writing for CLIENTS’ trade journals
  • television
  • radio
  • print advertising
  • advertising on other websites

Guide – Getting your brand “followed” builds loyalty.

Action Item – Start by making sure you have a brand and then work with a pro to get that brand followed!

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Please leave comments to share with others by clicking the comment link below the title of this article

Welcome Guest Blogger: Steve Yastrow – The Encounter Habit


 I really enjoyed this from Steve Yastrow and received his permission to share it with you.  Eliot


The Encounter Habit

Comment on this newsletter at

Each day, relationship-building encounters are the most important product you produce.

Yes, this is true. Why?

First, because “We” relationships are the true differentiators in today’s business world. Differentiating your products and services is very difficult these days, because customers see ours as a “land of plenty,” where one product can be substituted by another.

Second, because most of us can impact our relationships much more readily on a day-to-day basis than we can impact our products. If you are a salesperson, you will have a much easier time today making your customer happy by building your relationship with him than you could by improving your product’s specifications. If you are a real estate broker, it’s much easier to build a relationship with a client than to change the prices of available properties. Even if you are a doctor, it’s easier to impact your patient relationships today than it is to improve the efficacy of the latest drug treatments. You can make a better relationship easier than you can make a better product.

We relationships are built one encounter at a time. Each time you come in contact with a customer, you have the opportunity to improve– or degrade– your relationship. This is something you can affect every day, at every moment, you are engaging with a customer. You do it by constantly monitoring how well you are integrating the three elements of a relationship-building encounter into your interaction:

  • Are you and your customer both fully engaged in the moment?
  • Are you creating conversation, a true dialogue and not an exchange of monologues?
  • Are you creating a fresh, unique moment, an unscripted interaction between two unique people?

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about this minute-by-minute encounter management and self-awareness. I realized that this theme was woven in three blog posts I published over the last few days, each covering one of the three elements of an encounter:

  • I wrote this post, Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional, about how we have the power to shut out distractions and remain engaged in the moment, no matter what is tugging at our attention.
  • This post, The Conversationometer, focused on the importance of monitoring the quality of dialogue during a customer interaction.
  • Be Irreplaceable was published on, and generated some interesting comments from the Tom Peters community. This post focused on bringing your personal uniqueness into a customer encounter.

The Yastrow Conversationometer: From monologue to dialogue
Download the full-size Conversationometer(Adobe PDF)

When I teach people these principles of relationship-building encounters, they rarely resist the concept and, in fact, are able to give me clear examples from their own business lives of when they did, or did not, create relationship-building encounters. But… people admit to struggling with creating encounters on a regular basis.

Why? Why don’t we create encounters all the time, if we know how to do it, and we know it is important?

When we don’t create encounters and slip into relationship-eroding transactions, it’s usually because we are not alert to the fact that we’re missing one or more elements of the encounter:

  • We lose our attention to the moment, or don’t realize that our customer has become unengaged.
  • We monologue and don’t catch ourselves.
  • We miss what makes the other person unique, and they infer we don’t understand them, or we use prefab scripts in a way that makes ourselves seem generic and stiff.

Like so many important parts of life, creating relationship-building customer encounters takes practice. Practice leads to habit. Habit leads to progress. Progress leads to strong relationships. Strong relationships lead to business success.

So how do we create the encounter habit?

Pay attention, at all times during a customer interaction, to the state of your encounter.

  • Are we both present, at this very moment, in the interaction?
    • If you become distracted, notice it, and focus in on details of the interaction you are in, to bring yourself back into the moment with your customer.
    • If your customer’s engagement starts to wane, notice it and bring her back in.
      (For more ideas on how to engage yourself in the moment, and how to invite your customer into the moment, see pages 47 – 69 in my book We: The Ideal Customer Relationship, or pages 10 – 14 in my free ebook, Encounters)
  • Are we, at this very moment, engaged in true, genuine dialogue?
    • Use The Conversationometer, described in the blog post and the graphic above. The Conversationometer requires no batteries, no electrical current, and you can never misplace it. All you need to do to use The Conversationometer is to be aware, at all moments in a conversation, of how things are going, and then act on what you notice.
      (For more ideas on how use conversation in customer encounters, see pages 73 – 88 in my book We: The Ideal Customer Relationship)
  • Are we, at this very moment, creating a unique, authentic moment between two unique, authentic people?
    • Am I noticing, and honoring, the “spices” that define what makes my customer and his situation unique?
    • Am I being irreplaceable in the way I engage; interacting in a way that could not be duplicated by someone else, even if they were providing the same service I am providing?
    • Does the moment itself seem fresh and unique, and not as if it was scripted and “pulled from inventory?”

One very important idea for this moment-by-moment attention to customer encounters is to recognize that you can always improve a customer interaction, at any point, no matter how well or how poorly it is going. If the encounter is in full-swing, use that as a chance to take it to an even higher level. On the other hand, if your interaction has degraded into transaction-land, don’t give up. No matter how far down a customer interaction has slipped, you can use the 3 encounter elements– engagement in the moment, conversation and uniqueness– to help bring it back on track.

As with any habit, the encounter habit takes practice. Use every encounter as a chance to improve. Remember, if you get 1% better at creating relationship-building encounters every day, you’ll be twice as good in 72 days. (Relationship habits grow at a compound rate just like cash!)

I’m speaking from experience here. I started researching and writing We four years ago today, on June 15, 2005. As I listened to hundreds of people tell me about their relationships, I saw this theme of encounters, and of the 3 encounter elements, emerge. It fascinated me, and I began to practice. I have a long way to go, but now, when I inadvertently end up with a transaction instead of an encounter, I can always look back and see exactly where things went awry. This puts me into a position to improve. Immediately.

So look at every customer interaction as a practice in improving your ability to create encounters. Not only will the immediate encounter be better, your future encounters will be better, leading to better relationships and better business success. As they say in yoga, “practice makes practice.” Develop the encounter habit, and you will find yourself, every day, in richer, more productive, more rewarding customer encounters.

Steve Yastrow
Join the conversation! Comment at
P 847 686 0400

Bread and Fruit

So you have decided to have a client or prospect in to your office for an early meeting.

What’s an early meeting?  Any meeting that starts at 9AM or earlier!

And why does this topic matter?  Did your client or prospect have breakfast?

Consider the impact… they walk in to your conference room and there waiting….breads and fruits and cheese.

Depending on what part of the country you are from, you will determine the combo.

Here in the Northeast, that means Bagels, Cream Cheese and OJ.  Maybe some cut melon.  In the South (I am guessing), Sweet Rolls, or Danish, watermelon and a soft cheese.  In California…. Muffins, Grainy rolls, butter, Citrus and Jack.  I also use a small jelly (like the room service kind) and some butter.

Anyway, you get the idea!  People are thrilled.  You might even WANT to warn them NOT to eat, so when the appointment is scheduled we let them know that we will have it waiting for them.

For you, the cost is reasonable – I would say more than $10 but less than $20.  It can be picked up on your way in at the local market, bagel store or coffee shop (even Starbucks).  We have coffee in our office so I do not need to pick that up.  We use a Keurig maker which is very convenient.

In our office, this is an always, always, always event.  Our staff knows if I have a “breakfast” meeting, they leave out the dishes, napkins, silverware etc. the night before.  Then all I have to do is “spread it”.  And of course any leftovers are shared immediately among staff or taken home.

Guide – Your client or prospect want and need to know you care.

Action Items – Show them you care about them and serve them breakfast!

Truth or Dare?

As I began my career in the financial services industry, we were taught to sell.  We were taught how to respond to objections, we were taught how to close, how to turn people around, how to be persuasive.  And while this training was important and perhaps invaluable, there was an inherent falsehood to it all.  It was all about the sale.

We were not taught to be honest, forthright or truthful.  We were not taught to listen, to be empathetic, to have people skills.  We were taught about body language as a way to better close. 

As you think about your “sales” training, do your think, hmmmm “Truth” or “Dare”.  “Gosh, if I tell the whole truth he or she will not buy!” “Man, I cannot tell my prospect that negative attribute to my product or I cannot make rent!”

What I have come to observe and learn is that the old fashion close is just that.  To forge relationships with clients will lead to a much higher level of success.  Be a leader.  Be a champion.  Be the kind of person your children or family will admire.  Be the person your clients will admire and be grateful for.  This will lead to loyalty.  This leads to “sticky” clients.  This means less stress for you and less stress for them.

Don’t play truth or dare, don’t play close to the edge and don’t play with people.   Just don’t play!

Guide:  Picture yourself as being admired for your integrity. Picture yourself as someone to be emulated.

Action Item:  Listen, give full disclosure, review every document with your client and do not be afraid to be truthful.

PS – My Dad, an “old school” insurance man passed away this week.  He taught me many things over the years but the biggest lesson I learned is that you are nothing without your integrity.  Thanks Pop!  and so I will step off the soapbox – for now….

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