Delayed Client Gratitude

Written by: Justin Gabriel

Being a financial planner is one of the coolest professions out there.

Outside of maybe health care or therapy, there really isn’t another career path that allows you to have a more direct impact on individuals. On a day-to-day basis we are helping our clients make life changing decisions, and then following their path to see the impact those decisions have.

We get to see a lot of triumphs, and unfortunately, a few failures as well. At the end of the day, we do what we do because we know it’s meaningful. The impact we have on our clients is huge.

One of the downsides, however, is that financial planning has very few deadlines, so celebrating a client’s success may be decades down the road. We don’t immediately see or feel it, and that can lead our minds to wonder about the value in the relationship.

In a perfect world, the relationships that we have with our clients should be mutually beneficial. After all, it’s the reason we have introductory meetings to get acquainted with each other. If the fit is not there from the outset, there’s a good chance it won’t be there long-term. And if the fit is not there long-term, then there usually isn’t a benefit to either side.

Unfortunately there are some cases where the relationship fit seems to be great at the beginning, but then the bumps in the road come later.

It’s times like this where reviewing positive client feedback can be very important.

For every one “problem” client, you likely have ten or more clients who you appreciate working with. And there’ s good chance that feeling’s mutual!

Really great clients tend to be the people who understand the value in their relationship with their advisor. Furthermore, they tend to be the kind of people who share their appreciation in one way or another. This could be as simple as a thank you at the conclusion of each meeting, a holiday card at the end of the year, or a handwritten note after a major life transition.

Whatever the form of communication, it’s good to capture these moments. They’ll become important during the rough times.

One of the best things you can do when that inevitable negative email hits is to review your positive feedback. Now this isn’t to say that nothing can ever be done wrong, and mistakes are a part of life. However, when that one client puts you down it can be helpful to revisit the clients who you have helped to lift up.

There are a few ways to do this, and all of them can be good on an individual basis. A member of our team has a separate gratitude folder in their email inbox. This is an easy home for any positive feedback you will receive, and is almost always accessible wherever you go.

Another method, which is my preferred option, is to create a physical folder in your workspace. Once this folder is created you can start to fill it with printed emails, the aforementioned holiday cards, or any other positive client communications. Anything you consider to be positive client feedback can become a tool to use at some point in the future.

The reason I prefer this option is that it gives me an opportunity to actually step away from my computer and look at the bigger picture. To really capture the positive impact that myself and my team are making in the lives of our clients.

The method to capturing the feedback is really up to you as an individual. After all, you know yourself and your habits the best. The most important thing is actually capturing it and saving it somewhere accessible.

Perhaps most importantly, referring back to positive feedback can help to reset your emotions and move forward with the negative situation you are dealing with. Responding to negative feedback with additional negativity very rarely helps. The ability to anchor to the value you add can assist in responding to negativity with a more grounded mindset.

Holding onto positive client feedback can pay long-term dividends. The value we provide to clients is easy to see when we look at the big picture. But on a day-to-day basis it can get easily lost. During these periods is the time when receiving some delayed client gratitude can keep you moving forward with making an impact in the lives of your clients.

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