The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you view the people who engage your services as customers or clients? The two terms are often used interchangeably, and to many people, they are indeed the same. In reality, however, they are very different and I believe it is important that advice firms recognize and understand those differences.
The one characteristic that both clients and customers share is that they are real people. People with a specific problem (or problems) that they are looking for your help in resolving. But that’s where the similarity ends.
The nature of the ‘customer’ relationship tends to be ‘transaction’ rather than ‘relationship’ based. For example, I am a customer of both Tesco and Waitrose, but a client of neither. My weekly shop is transactional.
The ‘client’ relationship on the other hand is characterized by;
In the financial services sector we work hard to build long term relationships and look holistically at all the individuals financial planning needs and establishing what is really important to them rather than just dealing with a single issue.
But even then there are only two levers you can pull to establish a real relationship. They are
Clearly these must be aligned and have the client’s interests at the centre. And, when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter whether you see the individual as a client of yours… it’s whether that individual sees themselves as your client in their mind.
England’s dismal display at the Euros against Iceleand and the distinct lack of leadership being shown by all our politicians (with the possible exception of Nicola Sturgeon) post the EU referendum got me reflecting on the importance of effective leadership. What we need now is a leader of Churchillian character that can put the good of the UK ahead of self.
Once again, we can turn to the great leaders in the business world for an idea of what might be required right now.
When Sheelagh Whittaker became CEO of EDS Canada, she prepared a series of provocative thoughts on leadership for her new boss. Useful thoughts on which anyone in a position of leadership (sporting, business, charity or public sector) should maybe reflect.
What are your tips for effective leadership?