How to Improve Client Communications
Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.
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I have been given the role of writing client communications for our firm. Candidly, it is not my strong suit, and I am struggling with best ways to organize my thoughts and prepare something our advisors will validate and be willing to send. Everything I put in front of them is “wrong,” but I don’t get a lot of specific feedback about how to change it.
I get comments like, “This could be concerning to clients,” or, “That’s been said and done before.” This criticism doesn’t give me the guidance I need to get better. They probably could not write these pieces either, so they might not know exactly what I need to do differently.
Do you have any best practices you can share to help me improve?
Your note contains two items I will take the time to opine on here – how to give good feedback and how to become excellent in your client communication.
The advisors are not great writers themselves, or maybe they don’t know exactly what good writing looks like. It could be they don’t have a way to share their insights so they are meaningful and actionable for you. Push back and ask open-ended, non-intrusive questions. Don’t debate the ideas or be unwilling to take input. Say you want to know what needs to be fixed and their ideas about how to fix it. When someone notes, “This could be concerning,” they are speaking of something specific. Ask, without hubris, “What do you believe they will find concerning about it and why?” Use these as learning opportunities. Even if you ultimately disagree with the comment, it can be helpful to get inside their minds and understand what they are thinking. If you approach this as a learning opportunity instead of just “random feedback,” you can learn more about the clients, the approach and your lead advisors.