Periodically taking clients’ temperature will help you stay relevant

How to exceed client expectations

Many advisors like to ask clients “how are we doing?” Wrong question.

You want to know that you are meeting, even periodically exceeding, client expectations. That’s the best way to cultivate loyal clients who refer. But asking about the quality of your work directly won’t tell you what you need to know. Of course, the majority of your clients are satisfied. If they were not, they would probably have moved. So the practically universal answer to the how am I doing question is “fine.”

A better question to ask is this: When you chose to work with us, what were your expectations? Besides getting a yardstick against which to measure what you do for them, you discover how clients evaluate you. Sometimes, that is different than the standards you set for your process.

Asking about expectations gets directly to how clients and prospects evaluate you. If you want to know how to speak with prospects more compellingly, that’s invaluable.

When we survey advisory boards, we ask about how well their advisor met or exceeded expectations. We also ask whether working with the advisor caused them to reset their expectations. Imagine talking with a prospective client and being able to say “You might expect, like many people we meet, (fill in the blank). But what they discover when they work with us is (updated expectation). Wouldn’t it be great to have that?”

A client driven practice stays in touch with expectations. Client wants and needs are moving targets. This past year especially, expectations change. Maintaining relevance calls for checking in with clients periodically to discover how their mindset may have evolved.

You benefit from knowing what clients expect of you. There is value as well to keeping in touch with clients’ outlook. How have their expectations of their own situation and future changed? Some client advisory boards have told us, for example, that they want to accelerate their retirement. Others have shared, now that they have worked from home in close proximity with their spouse for a year, they plan on working longer. You just don’t know until you ask.

Staying in touch with expectations gives you the opportunity to devise ways to deliver more value. As we have discussed before, clients often cannot tell you what new things you can do to be of better service. But monitoring how their preferences change can give you ideas.


Have you asked clients recently about their changing outlook and expectations? If not, you run the risk of losing relevance. Download our free guide “5 Reasons to Listen to Your Clients (or Someone Else Will)” by clicking on this link:

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