Poor-quality, vague or confusing customer enquiries can be time consuming and frustrating. They can add extra admin into your day and eat up hours that could be spent helping your clients. As a result, you may find yourself rejecting enquiries that aren’t crystal clear simply due to a lack of time. But there are a number of ways to improve the quality of your enquiries and cut down on costly follow-ups.
Let’s say that you’ve been recommended to a potential customer by a friend. But when they get in touch, this new contact simply asks if you can ‘help with their money’. This kind of overly generic enquiry is less than ideal in a number of ways.
First and foremost, it tells you nothing about the sort of services required or their circumstances. Will this client need advice on their personal or business finances? What do they mean by ‘help with’? How hands on would they like you to be?
As a result, you will need to spend a fair bit of time qualifying this enquiry – time that could be spent doing billable work for other clients. And if you’ve got a busy schedule and have other potential customers who are far clearer about what they need from you, it’s easy to miss out on a potentially lucrative relationship. On the other hand, failing to properly qualify your enquiries could mean that you accept a client whose wealth comes from questionable sources.
Here are some of our tips that will help you improve your customer enquiry process.
An SLA can protect both you and your customers from a lack of clarity and miscommunication around the service you’re going to provide. It’s a crucial part of the initial contract you should offer all customers, as it sets out exactly what they can expect from you and holds you accountable to clear terms and standards.
Although an SLA won’t help you filter initial enquiries, it’s a good way to make sure you and your clients are on the same page before committing to anything in writing. It can also form part of your due diligence activities as you can remind your clients of your legal obligations, such as compliance with anti-money-laundering regulations and HMRC rules, before they sign on the dotted line.
In addition, a clear SLA will stop people signing up for a service that you can’t provide. For example, if an individual approaches with an enquiry about managing their investments, but they’re actually seeking a comprehensive wealth manager, a clear SLA will quickly show what you can and can’t help with.
Personal finances can be confusing if you’re not financially savvy. And professional money matters are often downright baffling to those just starting out. As the expert in this field, you can quickly qualify enquiries by leaving very little room for ambiguity or shoulder shrugging.
Let’s imagine that a client asks you for ‘help with tax’. To them, the end goal is perfectly clear: likely to make sure they’re not paying too much tax, or that they’re paying the right taxes. But the world of tax is vast and complex and a matter relating to inheritance tax could be a world away from an issue with capital gains tax. There are ways to ask more specific questions that are easy for everyone to understand. Here are a few simple examples:
Do you need advice on your personal finances or for your business?
Are you concerned about paying too much tax? Or are you worried that you’re paying incorrectly or not enough?
Do you need help with tax right now or are you planning for the future?
It’s also best to be straightforward with any due diligence questions you need to ask. Ensuring your clients know what paperwork you need to see and any legal formalities you’ll need to carry out ahead of time will smooth out the process for both parties. And it’s also likely to put off anyone who knows they cannot comply – win, win.
Sometimes, clients are vague because they genuinely don’t know what they want, other than help with their finances. Investment platform Freetrade conducted a survey of 2,000 UK adults and found that just 48% could be considered ‘financially literate’, with 88% saying they weren’t confident in their own financial literacy.
As the financial expert, it will often fall to you to use your intuition and make suggestions that have worked for similar clients. After all, your clients pay you for your knowledge as well as the services you provide. The fact that someone has even taken the time to make an enquiry suggests they respect you as an authority on the subject.
For example, let’s say you’re approached by a married couple in their 40s who want to get serious about investing for retirement. They have a healthy income but a mortgage, children and are fairly risk averse. They also don’t have the knowledge to maximise their future pension pot.
With your experience, you’ll know that a high-risk fintech-focused VC fund probably isn’t the best fit. Unless they express an interest in something like this or it fits their goals, it’s best not to overwhelm your clients with an array of unsuitable questions.
Rather than inviting customers to simply send over an email, a contact or enquiry form will help them structure their request in a clearer way that’s easier for you to qualify. There are lots of simple templates online that are easy to build into your existing website, but it may be worth creating a customised option.
Asking for more than just a name, number and email address will allow you to quickly filter out enquiries that aren’t worth pursuing. But you’ll also need to strike a balance and ensure you’re not asking too much, either. Prospective clients could be scared away if you ask them to share sensitive financial information before you’ve had a conversation.
Here are some suggestions of what to include:
Have you worked with a financial adviser before?
Are you interested in investing? If so, have you ever invested before?
Do you have a spouse or partner?
What is your main financial concern?
If you have the technical skills to do so, you could consider including multiple choice boxes that can simply be clicked. When asking about the individual’s main financial concern, for example, you could show them common options like pensions and planning for the future, inheritance matters, investing, tax, wealth management, as well as any specific areas you cover.
By giving people a set of specific choices, you increase your chances of getting a focused answer that tells you whether you’re the right adviser for them. And, by the same logic, if they do not see options that apply to them, the customer will quickly realise another adviser may be a better fit.
If you’re not keen on the idea of a contact form, or find that most of the emails you receive contain enough detail, a simple template response could be all you need to qualify vague enquiries. Drafting it ahead of time means you’ll simply need to copy and paste most of it in, allowing you to efficiently get the information you need. Creating a template also means you can allow junior members of staff or assistants to respond to initial queries without worrying that they’re out of their depth.
If you find that email isn’t the most efficient way to receive your enquiries, you could also consider joining a search platform for advisers. It’s an excellent option that can increase both the volume and quality of the messages you receive, as customers can use keywords and filters to find exactly what they need.
With Unbiased, for example, you can set customised criteria that ensure you’re only matched with or receive enquiries from customers who meet them. You’ll save time and avoid fruitless conversations with customers who aren’t suitable or who require services you don’t offer. Find out more about Unbiased Pro here.