While it may be easy for financial advisors to learn about the wide range of ways they add value to clients throughout the year, clients themselves may not be aware of what their advisors do for them behind the scenes outside of their annual meetings (for example, rebalancing investment accounts or review their insurance policies). Without knowledge of this “shadow work,” clients may not realize the full range of responsibilities that their advisor (and the company’s back-office staff) handle on their behalf to justify their fees.
One way that consulting firms can help solve this dilemma is by implementing a customer service calendar, which identifies the main services that are provided to clients during each month of the year. Not only does this give clients a better idea of the actual work involved in financial planning that takes place outside of meetings, but it also helps them understand when the work is happening during the year. In addition, customer service calendars can help manage client expectations while allowing advisors to stick to their preferred service cadence (with the understanding that some client issues will likely need to be dealt with on an ad hoc basis). Furthermore, by defining the scope of actual work a consultant performs for clients, customer service calendars can be useful when it comes to dealing with regulators, who may need to evaluate specific services that consultants provide to ensure that those services justify client fees.
When creating a customer service calendar, consulting firms have many styles to choose from to meet their specific needs. For example, companies can choose a monthly, fortnightly, or even daily calendar, depending on what they want to show their customers. Customer service calendars can be implemented in a variety of ways, from a single-page calendar that serves as a handy handout during prospect meetings to a daily calendar with important dates customers actually want to hang up their fridges and remind them of. The value their advisor provides!
Once a consulting firm has determined what it wants its service calendar to do (for example, demonstrate ongoing value and act as a tool for client engagement) and has chosen an appropriate style that supports its calendar function, it can then consider how to actually build its customer service calendar by defining What should be included in the calendar and what tools they want to use to produce the calendar. These decisions will depend on several factors, from the type of calendar and the amount of detail included, to whether the calendar is meant to be used as a resource in a meeting or to be kept by the client for regular reference. And with a variety of technical tools and third-party solutions available to help them create and implement a customer service calendar, consulting firms can easily select the option that best meets their needs.
Ultimately, the key point is that customer service calendars not only allow companies to better organize and display their service offerings, they can also show customers (and organizers) the full range of services that are offered throughout the year. And by making it clear when planning services will be provided and when relevant events will be held for clients, advisory firm owners make the financial planning experience more real and create structure in their operations, all while giving advisors time to dig deeper into serving their clients!