How to Establish Client Service Standards

If someone were to ask about what you do to ensure great client service, how would you respond? No doubt you would be able to tick off a few things that you do regularly such as quickly returning phone calls & emails, sending a newsletter, and reaching out to make sure your clients know you haven’t forgotten them between progress review meetings.

But how much better would it be if you had well-defined and clearly communicated standards for the service you provide?

Let’s begin with some principles for defining great client service:

  • The perspective of your best clients is the lens through which you should determine your standards for client service. As you think about various aspects of client service, consider the mindset of a few of your top clients – not the easy ones but the ones who have high expectations for the service they receive. What is important to them?
  • A top priority is to manage your clients’ expectations by always keeping them informed as next steps and when items will be/have been completed.
  • Everything you say and do (and don’t say or do) communicates a message to your clients. Make sure it’s the message you intend.
  • Consistency is key in delivering great client service. Do not implement something that you are not certain you will be able to continue to provide.

The first step is to define your standards for administrative and operational services. As you review the following examples, think about how you would react if similar standards were communicated from one of your own service providers. Would defined standards increase your perceived comfort level?

  • Phone calls & emails received by [X:00 pm] are returned the same day. If we don’t have an answer for you right away, we let you know when you can expect to hear from us.
  • All service requests are logged and confirmed with an estimated completion day/time, and a phone call or email lets you know when they are completed.

Most advisors also include standards for client communication and education. Here are a few examples.

  • Clients receive periodic emails providing our perspective on current economic conditions or timely planning topics.
  • Educational workshops or webinars are held throughout the year on topics that are relevant to your planning or investment needs.
  • Our team makes check-in calls to ensure that all clients have some type of one-on-one interaction with us at least once per quarter.

Once your service standards have been defined, they can be communicated to clients and prospective clients. Just as we have done in the examples above, your service standards should be written in the present, not future, tense. Communicating what you do is so much more powerful than communicating what you will do.

We suggest limiting the list of standards you communicate to the areas of administration, operations, communication, and education, rather than including client recognition items, such as birthday or other remembrances, holiday greetings, and social events. Since most advisors vary what they do in the area of client recognition based on how their clients are segmented, your service standards should include only those standards that you commit to providing to all clients.

Your service standards can then be posted on your website, shared on social media, and/or provided in a one-pager to clients and prospective clients.

Clearly defined and communicated client service standards demonstrate that you are intentional, thorough and committed to serving your clients well.

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