Service Will Take Over
The financial services industry is a service-based business, which means service has a way of taking over the business. And we understand. Providing exceptional service is vital to your business. It’s why clients choose to do business with you and why they choose to stay, even when rates increase.
There is no denying that service is important, but it can easily become a monster. When your agency doesn’t have the right systems in place, service can and often will eat into the time your business needs to dedicate to other functions such as: sales/prospecting, operations, marketing, and even creating business strategies.
Stop and think about the last two weeks. How often was there another service task on your to-do list that had to be rescheduled? Have you pushed prospecting aside? Have you skipped updating your annual goals? Do you wonder when you’ll have time to train your team? When you find service issues taking up all your time and your team’s time, it forces your agency to be reactive. You’re always reacting to what comes in the door. It makes it difficult to create solid business strategies that are vital to growth. It makes everything seem like a fire.
And the worst part is that it’s often not really a fire! The service issues for clients don’t always have to be done right now, but without the right systems in place we create an urgency around simple service issues.
An agency that is focused on systems understands the freedom that comes from taming chaos. It creates an environment that functions like a well-oiled machine, instead of one that is reacting to what comes through the door or the phone.
While we can’t address all the systems in one newsletter here are a few simple-to-implement insights:
- Take control of your schedule. When a client has a service-related issue, you need to be in control of the schedule. Too often efficiency is lost by not scheduling needed follow ups while a client is on the phone leading to phone tag or even in letting the client tell you when they need it by. To take control, set the expectation clearly such as “We’ll have that for you by Thursday, does that work for you.” Or “We’ll need to follow up with you on this, do you have 15 minutes on Friday at 1:15 PM for a phone call?” Notice, each example ends with a question to verify it works for a client. This helps set the level of priority. If they need the issue to be taken care of quicker, they will tell you. However, if you ask them when they need it by, clients will often say earlier than what they really need.
- Set time limits and try to hold to them. If you look at the second example, you’ll notice that the expectation of spending 15 minutes was clear when a follow up was scheduled. This is a great technique to protect how long service-related issues take. If you don’t set the expectation then it’s very easy for this to take longer. Especially during the current times with Covid, it’s not unusual for clients to want to chat for even longer periods of time. Setting the expectation for a call or meeting when it’s scheduled is the first step to being in control. The second step is to remind them at the beginning of the meeting such as, “It’s great to talk to you today. I’ve got about 15 minutes, so I want to jump right into…” This will help ensure that chatting doesn’t cut too much into your schedule.
- Set priorities. An agency should have standard times for how quickly a service issue should be done. Not everything needs to be done right now. As an office, you want to set expectations, such as quotes should be done within X business days or even hours. This will help your team to communicate when they will have something done or when they need to follow up as suggested in the first bullet. In addition, it will help your team know what to work on. Yes, every client is different and on occasion they will need something done quicker, which is why a priority ranking system is vital. It allows your team to understand what is truly a fire and what can wait. This helps ensure that other non-service-related functions are tended to as well.
- Write your to-do’s down! As humans, we are not as good at “remembering” what needs to be done as we think we are. Too often, to-do lists live in your team’s memories. This has several flaws. First, if the to-do list for the office is private to individuals it makes it difficult to prioritize the tasks. Your “team” is operating as a team, but as individuals. So, any prioritization of tasks is done without the big picture. When tasks are shared it allows the business to make decisions about what is needed. It also creates an unnecessary risk for your business if for some reason an employee can’t, or chooses not to, return to work the next day. All of their tasks go with them and the business is left in the dark. To share your tasks you can use a CRM, outlook tasks, a shared document, a platform such as Asana or Trello, or even structured meetings throughout the day to share handwritten tasks. How you implement this can be creative, but all agencies should have documented to-do’s.