Don't Go Down With the Ship; Do What's Right for the Company AND the Customer
Common sense must always prevail – especially when it comes to customer service. That said, sometimes companies create strict rules and policies or have a “system” that makes it impossible for an employee to deliver the customer service the company actually wants them to deliver.
Recently, I was sitting next to someone on an airplane who was on his way for a vacation on a cruise ship. We got into a discussion about how some people are so set in their ways that they can’t be creative about solving a customer’s problems. These people are so tied to their process and the way they have always done things that they jeopardize the relationship with their customer, even when common sense should prevail.
My fellow passenger has been on many cruises – and as good the customer service is on most cruises, he said there are always a few of the ship’s employees that are more focused on the system or process than on their customer. He then shared a few stories from his past trip about how some crew members lacked common sense. For some reason, it reminded me of the Titanic and how the eight-member band continued to play, even after the ship started sinking.
I thought that the story of the band playing while the ship was going down might be fictitious, so I did a little research to see if were true. Well, as the story actually goes, the reason for the band continuing to play was that Wallace Hartley, the band’s leader, had asked the band to keep playing because he thought it would help calm the chaos that was ensuing around them.
Maybe that was true, but I’d like to take some creative license and bend this story a bit to create a customer service lesson. My made-up version of the story has nothing to do with keeping the passengers calm. My version is that Mr. Hartley said, “Keep playing. We still have two hours to go in our set.” The passengers had all left to save themselves, but the band played on … as they went down with the ship.
The point is that Mr. Hartley’s band should have stopped playing immediately and tried to save themselves. Common sense should have prevailed. The band should have headed for the life rafts. But, sometimes people just do what they think they are supposed to be doing, without regard for common sense.
So, what does this have to do with customer service? The best companies hire people who are smart, problem-solving, customer-focused people who look for ways to work around having to say NO and come up with ways to say YES. They don’t get stuck on company policy. They work within the rules, but also understand flexibility. They will do what’s right for both the company and the customer. In short, they use common sense, especially when the ship is going down – or a customer is angry.
Advisors Will Be Extinct in 5 Years Unless…
I’ve had financial advisors for more than 40 years. Not once in those years have I called my advisor to find out what stock/funds I should buy or sell. But I have called to find out where I should get my first mortgage, when to sell my house, or how much income I could get in retirement.
In short -- and I think I’m pretty typical – I was looking for financial advice, as it relates to my life.
Here’s the disconnect, what most advisors do is simply manage their clients’ assets. They determine what to buy, and what to sell, they think about risk management, about growing their practice by finding new clients and about getting paid.
Historically that has been the business model. But as more women take control over financial assets, they, like me, will be looking for a different experience. And unless the financial community is willing to change ….. advisors, as they are today will be extinct in five years.
Advisors who want to survive will have to do a lot more than just manage money – they will have to provide genuine “advice”. That means doing what’s right for the client, not pushing product and pretending it’s advice.
Women especially, but all investors generally, are becoming more and more cynical. They says, “If I want advice about reducing my debt, that’s what I want and not ‘here’s more debt’ because that’s what my advisor gets paid for! And if saving taxes is what I want then saving taxes should take precedent over selling me a product.”
You may be thinking that spending your time providing advice isn’t lucrative but the reality is that in the long run – it pays off in spades. The advisors who take the time to build real relationships with clients, who provide advice as it relates to their clients’ lives, even when there is no immediate financial benefit to themselves, those who don’t simply push product – are the ones who over time have the most successful practices.
Generally women understand and value service, but they will say, “If I’m paying, I want to know what I’m paying for: Is it for returns? Is it for advice? Is it for administration? I want to know. Then I can make up my mind what’s worth it and what isn’t.”
Investing is becoming a commoditized business and technology is replacing research that no one else can find. Today the average advisor is hard pressed to consistently beat the markets, and with women emerging as the client of the future, unless they start providing real advice, their jobs will likely be extinct in five years.
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