How do we take a radical approach to client service that surprises and delights? This is a question we asked ourselves and we’ve found tremendous inspiration in the book, Unreasonable Hospitality: The remarkable power of giving people more than they expect, by Will Guidara.
The book tells the story of radical invention and how you can transform any transaction into a memorable experience. Guidara shares his story as former co-owner of legendary restaurant, Eleven Madison Park, but the thinking can be applied universally. Many partners have read it and are enjoying bringing this to life.
What is becoming “unreasonable”?
Becoming “unreasonable” means thinking about the whole experience and how to surprise and delight to go beyond expectations. We’re not talking lavish gestures:
- We sent an avid Lego fan a Lego Flower Bouquet instead of a traditional floral gift to celebrate an office move, which meant so much more to them
- We bought colouring books to entertain a client’s five-year old while we talked
- And, when a client requested elderflower cordial on a hot day, we popped out quickly to buy some.
What we have found is that it’s the little details that make the big difference.
Of course, some clients appreciate our high-end proactive services and that’s enough – our client managers use their knowledge to make a judgement on what’s appropriate. Embodying “unreasonable” thinking is playing a pivotal role in changing the way we approach client service.
“Intention means every decision, from the most obviously significant to the seemingly mundane, matters. To do something with intentionality means to do it thoughtfully, with clear purpose and an eye on the desired result.” Will Guidara
Why is coaching in financial planning important?
As financial planners, we are increasingly recognising the value of coaching for clients, and over the course of the last year, this has led to some wider and deeper life-focused conversations about financial wellbeing. In 2021, we reported that several of our team had completed their Financial Wellbeing Certificate, and we continue to polish our coaching capabilities. It’s a real skill to be able to have better client conversations. As Sally Matthews, one of our client managers says:
“Financial wellbeing balances meeting needs today and saving for tomorrow. It requires covering essentials while making room for the fun stuff too.” Sally Matthews, Client Manager
Coaching is important because we know that great financial planning is so much more than setting up a pension, arranging a life assurance policy, or helping a client gift money to charity.
Coaching – it’s all about asking great questions
It’s vital to understand money at a deeper level. This includes challenging deep-rooted beliefs and behaviours around money and attaching financial wellbeing to personal wellbeing. We help to tease this out and create a better level of self-awareness about clients’ relationship with money and the decisions they make.
When we talk to new clients about what makes them tick and what makes them happy, they often say – “Well, I wasn’t expecting that conversation today!”
It’s so much more than bar charts and investment performance.
Some clients are very receptive to a broader conversation, while others are understandably more reticent. From our experience, it can often take several meetings to see a shift in their thinking.
Coaching makes a real difference to families; through game- changing approaches to things like fast-tracking money to the next generation or making home alterations that can improve clients’ quality of life today. We continue to encourage clients to have a philanthropic mindset too.
Caring from the inside out
Our research found that clients recognise the high standard of service that we offer. Where 10 is ‘strongly agree’, clients scored us 9.5 on average when asked if they would recommend Paradigm Norton to friends and family, and 9.33 on average when asked if they were satisfied with the services they have received.
Our culture survey found that 75% of partners:
- feel recognised for going the extra mile to satisfy clients
- are committed to providing the best possible standards of service
- and have the resources to do so.
Although there’s still work to do here, this signifies the importance of creating a culture around superb client relationships – we care about people, and we get great satisfaction from helping them.
Our next steps
All of this goes towards enabling clients to fulfil their life plans and make an impact. We need to measure our success, not by the financial returns delivered, but by how well we have coached our clients in making wise life and money decisions. To build on our regular client surveys, our next challenge is to find the right metrics to measure this.
Our B Corp score increased by 8.8% in the clients and investment category. To find out more, download our Impact Report 2023 – A big step forward.