January 25, 2024

What do clients really think of us?

It’s Fascinating to me what we think that we know.
The things we assume that are ‘plain-simple-truths’.
And the more we experience as the years roll relentless,
The more we revere what we’ve learned since our youth.

I’m intrigued by this syndrome that arises as I coach folk:
How long-serving professionals design worlds in their head.
They’re convinced that they know their ‘own’ clients so well that
They predict with aplomb what they’ll love and they’ll dread.

Even more am I fascinated by what emerges when they
Have the courage to ask what their clients think and feel.
For a decade of research, independent, reveals that
Much of what we advisers believe of our clients isn’t real!

For time after time when those researchers ask what
Each ‘loyal, satisfied client’ would prefer their adviser to do.
What they wish we’d do less of, and what we different could offer.
What annoys and impresses. What they wish that we knew.

One theme that arises from that decade of research:
One ribbon of pleading, arising time and time again
Is the consistent comment that our skills and our knowledge
Tend to “get in the way”, and then trust tends to wane.

For they know that it’s true that we’re heavy laden with answers.
And they sense we believe that we think better than them.
And they see that we have all the tools to impress, and
We’re replete with exams (from which wisdom surely stems!).

But what truly annoys them and diminishes our value is
We haven’t thought through the real reasons they’re there.
When they’re seated before us (whether in person or virtual)
We advise far too early, before showing how we care.

Before showing we care what THEY think and are feeling
About the question they’ve brought and placed there at our feet.
They wish we’d let them reveal what’s behind their money,
And what matters in their life, before opening our spreadsheets.

The question I’ll leave with comes from where these thoughts started,
And it’s this: “Are you sure you know what you so think that you know?”
And where, pray, the evidence (from the mouths of your clients),
Which confirms that your views are so true and “Just So”?

And when I am with you, what – I wonder – are you doing?
Am I part of you reaching one of this year’s SMART goals?
When I speak, are you practicing your techniques of good listening?
Or does your rapt attention allow me to lay bare my soul?
Does your deep, rapt attention, allow me to lay bare my soul?