Do You Practice These Eight Social Niceties?
We’ve all heard the saying “You don’t know what you don’t know.” I’m reminded of this quote often when people share with me their etiquette annoyances or faux pas stories. So often a person’s misstep is simply due to not knowing that their behavior is inappropriate. Or they aren’t aware of the proper way to do something. For instance, when I was talking to a client she asked me to share in the training that people should not pass in front of others. Apparently, this is something she has experienced when out and about at her work and it annoys her. So, for everyone out there who doesn’t know what they don’t know, here are some social niceties that will make your social and business encounters a little, well, nicer.
Don’t pass in front of others
This simple tip can apply to many situations. When at a museum, don’t walk between the art and the person viewing it. This also applies to the grocery store when someone is looking at the items on the shelves; walk behind the person to pass. If someone is having a conversation with another person, don’t walk between them. When a person is walking don’t pass in front of him, pass behind him.
Hold the door open for others
Manners and etiquette evolves with the times and one rule that has changed is that anyone can hold the door open for anyone. It used to be that women didn’t hold the door open for others. But today, women and even children can hold doors open and should. When someone holds the door open for you don’t forget to say thank you.
Remove sunglasses and earbuds
If you are wearing sunglasses remove them when you talk with someone. If you have prescription sunglasses and can only see with them on, lift them to greet someone then put them back on. Apologize for keeping them on but state you need them to see.
If you’re wearing earbuds remove both buds when you talk to someone. Keeping one in looks like you’re giving the other person half of your attention.
Let women get on elevators first
Socially, a few chivalrous acts are still practiced and appreciated. However, in a business setting chivalry is typically not appropriate because it treats women differently than men. The one exception is letting women on and off elevators first. That is still expected and polite behavior socially and in the workplace. That said, if letting a women exit the elevator first means creating a log jam, then go ahead and depart first. Otherwise, it’s an “After you” kind of polite act.
Don’t touch or push people
If someone is in your way never touch or push them out of the way. I’ve been told that in China it is acceptable to physically move someone if they are in your way at the grocery store or other place where you’re trying to reach something. Not so in the United States. If a person is in your way say “Excuse me.”
Don’t ask personal questions
Never ask someone how much money they make, how much they paid for something, if they are vegan/gluten free, if they are married, etc. In some instances it’s even rude to ask where someone lives. Asking this question could make a person feel uncomfortable if her neighborhood is not suggesting of a similar income bracket to others. If you have to start the inquiry by saying, “I probably shouldn’t ask this but…” or “Would you mind if I asked…?” You definitely shouldn’t ask the question.
Always make a point to introduce someone you’re accompanying or interacting with to others you know. This important act makes people feel included and important. Simply say both people’s names one at a time while looking at the person whose name you’re stating. And, try to share something about both people – such as where they work, their job, how you met or hobbies or trips they are taking/took. This helps people have something to talk about with the stranger they just met.
Say please, thank you and you’re welcome
I know, I know, you already know this. But do you use these kind words? Do you thank the barista for making your half-calf, skinny, extra foam, mocha latte? Do you say, “Yes, please” when the Taco del Mar employee asks if you’d like sour cream on your burrito? And when someone thanks you do you say “You’re welcome” rather than “No worries”? Learn why I dislike “No worries” in this post.
There are many social niceties we perform every day. Many of them are things we do without thinking because we learned from parents, bosses and mentors they are important acts.
Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips
Written by: Shileen Weber
When the American Funds’ Capital Group asked 400 advisors last year to name the biggest issues they face in their businesses, it wasn’t the DOL, market uncertainty or the economy that sat in the center of the idea cloud of answers.
It was client issues.
At a time when regulatory concerns and market turbulence would seem to be at all-time highs, the advisors who answered the survey were most concerned about servicing their clients as well as ways to find new ones and grow their businesses.
It’s one of the ironies of the business, that the things most people find so hard to manage – creating financial plans, managing assets and staying ahead of events – are what advisors find to be the easiest parts of the business. Marketing - the business of selling themselves – can be the area advisors find the hardest elements to master.
In this age of instant communication, it can be even more intimidating to market your practice, especially to younger clients for whom many traditional methods like newsletters, postcards and phone calls don’t work anymore. For them, email is the preferred way to get information, and, if it’s important, they are more likely to respond to texts, not phone calls.
But, it doesn’t have to be that hard. The digital age gives you access to ideas and content of all kinds you can use to touch your clients in a way that positions you as a valuable resource. The key is to keep it simple, stick to some basics and create consistent outreach that clients and potential clients are interested in and will appreciate you sharing with them.
Here is a common-sense approach you can take that will not require you to hire an expensive agency or take valuable time away from managing your clients’ assets and running your business.
Content is King
Create a content calendar for the year: Think about reasons to touch a client 13 times during the year – that can be once a month and on their birthday. (The common rule of sales is that it takes at least 7-13 touches to make a connection.) The number is limited and keeps you from inundating the clients who likely already feel inundated with content. You can take the seasonal approach – tax planning in the fall, January for account review content, college financing in the spring – and supplement it with topical events during the year. Creating a calendar will help you stick to a plan. Here’s one resource for a content calendar.
Review what content is already available to you: Basically, this means finding the resources you already have and determining what pieces will be most valuable to your clients. Start first by checking out content your broker-dealer already generates that you can personalize. Many firms have economists who write regularly about the market. That’s content you can pass along to keep clients up-to-date they would not have access to anywhere else. In addition to your broker-dealer, mutual funds, your clearing firm, and money managers are all excellent sources of informative and even analytical content.
Personalize the content you use: Add your name, the client’s name or some way to avoid making it feel like canned content that you are using just to check the outreach box. See what capabilities your email program may have to help you.
The birthday strategy: One advisor used clients’ birthdays in a new way. Instead of the card or lunch date, the advisor asked the client’s spouse for a list of friends he could invite to a birthday lunch and made it a memorable event that was also a soft approach to getting referrals.
Become a curator of good content: What your review will show you is that you don’t have to generate the content yourself. You can point clients to pieces you find insightful. You are likely already doing this every day just to keep yourself informed. The next step is to compile it and send out the very best pieces to your clients, again, with a note with your own thoughts about why you found it valuable.
Find out what is working and do more of it: Use your client interactions, in-person and online, to find out what types of content clients liked and any they didn’t. You can use tracking on your emails to see how many were opened as a measurement tool, but the personal interactions tend to provide more insight than raw data.
Be disciplined about your execution: Get help from an office assistant or schedule the time each month to do the content development and outreach. As any good strategy, if you make it a habit, it won’t seem so hard.
Most importantly, be yourself and be personal: You may want to regularly get personal by talking about your family and hobbies. The ultimate is if you can provide content that is personal to your clients, not just about their investments – they get that from their statements, apps and online portals. Think alma maters, hobbies, children and parents.
Of course, as a disclaimer, you have to make sure all content and communications are complying with regulations and the rules of your own broker-dealer.
The process of creating a plan will get you thinking about your clients in a new way. That exercise alone can re-energize your business and get you seeing marketing opportunities in places you may never have seen them before.
Shileen Weber is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at GWG Holdings. She was previously Director of Online Strategy and Client Experience at RBC Wealth Management, where they placed first in two JD Power and Associates U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study (2011 and 2013).
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