Soft Skills: Getting Clients to Talk to You

Soft Skills:
Getting Clients to Talk to You

What does it take to be competitive, really competitive, in this current market? Is it a good product or service that is reliable and meets a need? Is it a good “story” about what you offer and how you can differentiate yourself?

The answer is, “Yes” to both, but good products and services and a good story are the minimum requirements to stay in business in this increasingly competitive landscape.

What really differentiates a firm in this day and age is how it treats its customers. How “known” do the customers feel? How much does the firm understand about its customer’s needs and issues? How many opportunities does the firm offer its customers to share their issues and concerns?

Whether the firm is large or small, there are a number of things it can be doing to ensure strong relationships with its customer base.

  • Don’t assume that people in the firm who are “back office” folks—portfolio managers, product developers, etc.—have the skills necessary to also be good client relationship people. We know from behavioral profiles that the two talents are usually inconsistent in one person. Utilize people to their highest and best strengths and develop team approaches to provide best service.
  • Don’t use one form of communication with clients—usually only written material. We know from adult learning principles that less than 10% of the population learns by reading. You are missing 90%+ by only relying on written communications.
  • Ask your internal folks frequently what you need to be doing differently to better serve the customer. What processes are broken and need to be improved? What obstacles do they encounter everyday in providing good customer service?
  • Get training on “soft skills”. Re-learn how to ask open-ended questions, perform active listening and interact with the customer, instead of just talking at them. Polish your skills through role-play or training to ensure that your style allows a customer to be open with you.
  • Understand the different adult learning preferences and behavioral styles so that you can gear your measure to different types and different audiences.

The firms that implement even a few changes toward providing better customer service will certainly rise above their competition in their customer’s eyes.