This will be the first of a series of posts on sessions from this year’s FPA Experience, held last week in San Antonio, TX.
Julie Littlechild, author of several studies on client attitudes and referral behaviors including Anatomy of the Referral, presented “Cracking The Referral Code” including new data soon to be released in this year’s update of Anatomy. In this program Littlechild explains that to seriously drive referrals we need to get away from the “cult of satisfaction” and to look more deeply at what drives client loyalty.
In her studies, she sorts clients into one of four categories from Disgruntled to Engaged. It is important to understand the drivers that lead clients into each of the groups because, while overall satisfaction ratings are not widely distributed, all referrals come from the Engaged group. There is a lot of behavior that client satisfaction simply cannot explain. Advisors fail to attract referrals because they have several mistaken assumptions about client satisfaction:
- · Satisfaction is loyalty
- · If I focus on satisfaction referrals will follow
- · Clients refer because they want to help my business grow
Focusing on satisfaction is a dead end because it is too broad. Engaged clients, hence referral sources, require a closer connection. They require a partnership with the advisor. And partnership arises from several aspects of the relationship including:
- · Shared values
- · Going beyond the portfolio
- · Involving family
- · Giving clients a voice
The feeling of partnership can be enhanced by focusing on clients that have shared values. While this is obvious it is often overlooked. It is a big component of “fit.” While Littlechild found that 89% of advisors say fit is important, only 23% have actually incorporated it into their client acceptance processes.
Giving the client a voice is very important as well. Littlechild’s most current data show that 64% of clients believe that an opportunity to provide feedback is critical.
She finds that we can capture much more of the “low hanging fruit” of referrals by paying closer attention to those activities that build partnership with clients. The payoff, of course, can be substantial. The study revealed that 67% of clients would make a referral if they heard a friend describe a challenge they believe their advisor could address, even if that friend did not explicitly ask to be referred.
Look more deeply at your relationship with clients. Go beyond satisfaction and you can start generating the referrals you hope for.
I will discuss fit in my next post, reporting on Tom Reimer’s presentation on that topic.