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Are You A Customer Or A Client?


When you hire a financial advisor, do you expect to be treated like a client or a customer? Do you treat your patients like clients or customers? There's a difference, and it's critically important.

This article was adapted from a podcast which you can find here.

I was just reading a book by Daniel C. Finley and he asked a really good question.

Are you a customer or are you a client?

I think this is a question we should be asking ourselves in every professional services relationship. Even as a physician, it's something that you should be asking yourself in relation to your patients.

Have you ever started off in a business relationship full of excitement about the exceptional service you expected to receive, only to be disappointed when you were treated like just another number to the person who sold you something?

This could have been a real estate agent, a mortgage broker, a personal banker, a financial advisor, a CPA, anyone.

And I think it really does bring us to a really important juncture. Does this person treat folks as a client or as a customer?

Let's just take an example. In Finley's book, he references McDonald's, the company that famously talks about serving over 1 billion hamburgers to customers. Right?

It's not like McDonald's is going to tell you what you ought to order. Maybe you don't want to order that BigMac and SuperSize your fries. Maybe you want to get a salad.

No, no. They are going to gladly take your money and not try and give you any advice on health.

Alright, let me give you another example. Let's talk to the ladies for a little bit.

I heard a story from Marie Forleo that I thought you could really relate to.

Let me ask you a question…

Do you remember the last time, the last night that you went shopping for clothes?

You're all by yourself and you have no friends with you.

You saunter on up, right to the store, pull a bunch of clothes off the rack, and go into a dressing room.

You come out. You are nervous. You ask the sales associate, "How do I look in this? Does this look good?"

And if you've had this experience, you'll know exactly what they say, right?

They say, "Oh, my god, you look fabulous. Don't worry. It's really tight, but that's in right now. You should go ahead and take it, go ahead."

And then you bring the clothes on home. You show them to your husband. You try them on. You look in the mirror and you're like, "Oh my god. Why did I buy this? I hate this thing. It doesn't work at all."

And you know you shouldn't have bought those clothes, but you were sold them by someone that you trusted.

Well, let's counter this with another experience. Let's see if you've ever had this one.

You go into the store. You get on some clothes. You try them on. You walk on out. You ask them, "Does this look good on me?"

And the sales associate says, "You know what, that's not so flattering. You should try this or that or come back when we have more inventory."

So, let me ask you a question.

Which store would you go back to?

Which store would you talk about?

Which store treats you as a customer and which store treats you as a client?

Unfortunately, I've really seen this negative model a lot when people are focusing on serving large numbers: Suddently folks are no longer clients, but rather customers.

As matter of fact, I know a CPA that has probably 800 clients and he has never, ever seen or even talked to 200 of his clients. Every single year, they just send in their stuff.

You guys, those aren't clients. They are customers. So, I want you to think about...

How would you like to be treated as a client? How would you get the best possible experience?

Or would you prefer being a customer? You don't care about getting help on various issues. You would rather do it yourself.

I would love to hear from you. What are your experiences? What should being treated like a "client" look like

whether we're talking about a financial advisor or CPA or someone else?

I would love to hear from you, comment or e-mail me at dave@daviddenniston.com.

Make a comment below.

What about you? What are your experiences? What should it look like from professional services- whether a financial advisor or CPA or someone else?

Dave Denniston, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), is an author and authority for physicians providing a voice and an advocate for all of the financial issues that doctors deal with. He is the author of 5 Steps to Get out of Debt for Physicians, The Insurance Guide for Doctors, The Tax Reduction Prescription, and his newest book, The Freedom Formula for Physicians.

He’s glad to answer any questions about financial matters you may be dealing with.

You can check out his latest podcast at DoctorFreedomPodcast.com.

You can also contact him at (800) 548-1820, at dave@daviddenniston.com, or visit his website at DoctorFreedomBook.com to get a copy of The Freedom Formula for Physicians.

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