Last week I shared the story of John and Betty who wanted to update their beneficiary designations following a meeting with their estate planning attorney. Although they called their advisor Dave immediately after the appointment, the designations were never changed.
You can learn more about their story in Wait, What?
This week we’ll explore what could have been done differently if Dave’s practice were following three key steps.
1. Clarify what completion looks look like.
John and Betty did not ask for a beneficiary update form. A form is simply a tool, a means to an end. John and Betty’s goal was to update their beneficiary information. Therefore, completion meant that the new beneficiary information was appropriately reflected in their accounts.
When Dave first spoke to John, he could have clarified what the new designations should be. He could have explained the process for updating beneficiaries. He could have let John know what he would receive, who would be sending it, how long it would take and who would own the process. If he didn’t know all those details, Dave could have asked his assistant Cheri to join the call.
2. Establish the owner of the process.
Ultimately, as the person with the most knowledge of how to get it done, Cheri needed to take ownership of the process.
Here are some of the things she could have done:
- Send out the forms with key information pre-filled and highlighting what was needed from John and Betty.
- Include a return envelope with the original mailing
- Follow up 2-3 weeks later if the forms hadn’t been returned and continue to follow-up until the forms were received
- Verify that the forms were correctly processed by the home office
3. Track the progress.
As you may have noticed, everyone was in the dark about the progress. Cheri was waiting for the form. Dave wondered where things stood. And John assumed (incorrectly) that everything was completed.
One of the easiest ways to make sure that everything stays on course is to use a spreadsheet to track all client requests (both in-progress and completed). Everyone on the team can check the spreadsheet to review the current status of a particular request. Alternatively, Cheri could create a daily or weekly report on what has been completed.
That way no one is ever left wondering, and the right things get done.
Your clients rely on you for so much more than your advice. Nothing should ever slip through the cracks. When a client calls in with a service request, how does your team make sure it gets done?