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Do you really make advocacy count?


Over the years I have been close to many significant advocacy programs, ranging from small practises to national businesses, through which I learned a great deal. I have seen some exceptional scores that have been hard earned and thoroughly deserved, along with some not so impressive results.

I have also observed some results that have been tactically influenced in a variety of ways, motivated by an array of fairly misguided reasons. Most important of all, though, is how you make feedback count so you can improve and how you turn strong advocacy into even stronger results.

In other words, how do you convert positive sentiment into regular, measurable, highly convertible referrals to your client’s trusted network of people, who are most likely to be in similar situations to your client?  And when I say “clients”, I mean all of them!

The questions if often ask myself in relation to this topic, are:

  • What do the ratings and insights really tell you from surveys and Net Promoter Scores?

  • What are the benefits of a business implementing such broad programs?

  • How can you really test advocacy and understand what client’s value?

  • Do you make this count where it matters and do you pass the ultimate test of advocacy – regular referrals from all of your clients?


What do the ratings and insights really tell you from surveys and Net promoter Scores?

For the most part, surveys rarely get to evoke how the person is really feeling. Nor do they provide a great deal of context. Personally, if I am ever asked to complete a survey I generally take the minimum amount of time and effort to get the thing done because my sense is that it will probably just end up as corporate data.

Also, the structure, format and usefulness of the questions will elicit a variety different responses and, typically, most participants feel like the organisation is either trying to test out the adviser or to establish a corporate result – not necessarily related to a solution that will enhance their experience.

And, neither electronic delivery nor a cold call from an NPS provider are likely to glean the valuable insights that make this process worthwhile.

So, essentially, if you really want to gather valuable, personalised feedback that you can work with to improve, don’t expect it to come in the form of a corporate NPS program or a mass survey.

How can you really test advocacy and understand what client’s value?

Well, for the reasons above, digital surveys and NPS programs won’t really provide the necessary feedback that you need to implement performance enhancing changes.

So, what options does that leave us with?

Well, there’s nothing more personal or effective as asking your prospects and clients consistent, well thought out questions whenever you meet with them face-to-face. You can even enhance this with a couple of questions that you always ask when you make client telephone calls during the year as part of your personal client care program. This will definitely demonstrate that you really care. 

Moreover, it will help you to really understand your value proposition and, perhaps, to recognise areas of your service that you could improve, or you thought that your clients really valued about you.

There are a number of interactions at distinct stages of a client relationship or interventions within a relationship that present the perfect opportunity to ask well thought out questions, which should always be the same questions, no matter which client.

Effective questions to ask a brand-new client

“It’s great to bring you on board as a client of our practice today and I wanted to ask what you have found valuable as we have worked together to bring your plan to life?”

Your client’s responses will not only clarify in their mind why they chose you, but they will also help you be clear what your value proposition is.

“I also wanted to ask what you expect from our relationship over the next 12 months?”

The value of asking what your new client expects is that it enables you to understand and discuss any expectations that are not part of your service package or that may be unrealistic. That way you can both be confident that you deliver to your service promise each year and that there are no surprises when it comes to your next scheduled review.


At each review meeting

If you have not asked these questions of an existing OAS client before…

“We have been working together for 3 years now and I wanted to ask you both what are the 3 things that you most value about me?”

“And is there anything that you expect from our relationship that I could improve?”

And with people who you have asked before when they became clients, you can refer to your notes from their previous responses…

“So, when you came on board 11 months ago you said that…, and I wanted to check to see how we are living up to your expectations?”  

You can also ask them what are the 3 things that they value the most about you and if there is anything that you haven’t delivered that they would like you to focus on.

Taking the time to check in with your clients not only gives you answers and information that will help you build a stronger relationship with your client, it also sends a consistent message that you genuinely care about them.


Do you make strong advocacy count where it matters and do you pass the ultimate test – regular referrals from all of your clients?

To ask your clients to refer their trusted network to you is a right that you need to earn, which also requires you to have complete confidence of the life changing value of your service. And there’s nothing like the previously described practises to place you in that position.

So, let’s assume that you have engaged your clients regularly, asked great questions, you understand your value proposition explicitly and have great confidence that your clients think your value is exceptional.

Now all you need to do is ask them to introduce the people they know to you – regularly. You will need to draft how you introduce your client referral program, which you can supplement with a specific referral mechanism. I have found the most effective and efficient way to enable this is to embed a “Refer a friend” icon in your email signature that links to a web based landing page. This will provide easy access for your clients, a regular reminder as it is visible in your email communications and an efficient way to track who has referred and who has been referred.

I have also found that it is a nice gesture to send a thank you card and a simple gift to say thanks to your clients for their kind referral.


The initial elements of client advocacy that I have touched on today are all built into the highly immersive one day face-to-face workshop that sits at the centre of our GROW Adviser Capability program.  In this program we explore these topics in greater detail to further build your understanding, together with enabling effective practice and our disciplined implementation program to ensure that you master and embed the skills in your business as a daily core practice.


Download the PDF version of this article for printing and sharing, HERE

Jason Dunn has developed, implemented and executed change, engagement, turn-around and transformation program strategies across a diverse range of institutionally and privately owned financial advice businesses over 35 years. While his experience is broad, Jason is effusive about creating exceptional client experiences based on thousands of hours of direct client engagement. 


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