TRUST: the foundation of relationships
Clients will only do business with people or companies they trust. It is for the same reason why it is difficult to change to service providers who have not been ‘tried and tested’.
A common quality
This cannot be truer for the financial services industry. When you ask clients about the qualities an adviser or Financial Services Provider (FSP) should have, one of the most common ones is trustworthiness.
As Stephen R Covey put it, “Trust is the glue of life. It is the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It is the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
How to maintain trust
Below are a few important tips on client trust and how to maintain it:
- Admit what you do not know and get back to the clients when you have a well-researched response. Some professionals find it difficult to tell the client, “I’ll get back to you”. Sometimes we come across a topic that we know very little about to give sound advice. When you conduct research, it improves the quality of advice given. This feedback, when give timeously as promised, increases the level of trust and confidence in the adviser. The client knows the adviser has taken time to source good advice in response to their queries. This further proves the level of honesty and professionalism, which improves the client’s perception of the adviser.
- Be genuinely passionate about clients and their interests. Clients want to know they have someone they can rely on and someone who can represent them when they need it the most. Client centricity goes beyond having it in company values and objectives, it should be at the heart of the service given, right from the first point of contact to the strategic decision-making of a company. It is the “we are here for you” approach to doing business with clients.
- Deliver on promises and effective communication. One of the most important aspects of doing business in any environment and industry is keeping promises made or communication timeously when it will not be possible. Clients understand that it may not always work out as planned, hence communication is key. Avoid forgetting things by keeping track of the ‘to-do list’. Most importantly, never over-promise and under-deliver.
- Give advice right the very first time. First impressions count, and so does the right advice the very first time. Proper advice is of key importance.
- Understanding the client and their business. This is probably the most important thing for any adviser to do as it determines the quality of advice provided. Like a doctor who understands their patient’s condition, this will determine the correct prescription. For years, I went into meetings with an educative mode to lecture the client. I later realised that when I listen more to what the client says about their business and needs, it affects the way I actually structure my advice. More so, experience will also help you remember some of the challenges from clients of similar businesses, which may come in handy when you have a thorough understanding of the clients you are dealing with.
- Educate clients. Educate clients on wheat their cover provides and what it does not provide. When an event or incident is not covered, it is important to be upfront and honest about it. Depending on a number of factors, one can make use of relationships and negotiations in order to assist the client financially where possible. If there is no cover in the market at all, a client can be assisted on risk management measurers against that particular loss in the future.
Learning – a never-ending process
Every incident is an opportunity to learn for professionals and to educate on the part of the client. It is a continuous, crucial, fulfilling and never-ending process, one in which trust is the centre.