What You Could Be Going Wrong When Talking to Customers

OOf all the high-profile guests of Exchange: An ETF Experience, only one so far has walked out of his session, followed by a host of advisors: Frank Luntz. If you don’t know the name, you know his work. Luntz is a pollster whose work has helped elect presidents and created the buzzwords for the issues we talk about every day. Have you ever wondered why we stopped talking about global warming and started talking about climate change? It was the influence of Luntz.

For Exchange, Luntz formed his lens on how we think about money and advice. His focus groups showed a major shift in the terms people want and need to hear to feel secure with their money. What he had to say will not only help advisors prospect; this will help advisors hit the sweet spot with current customers to increase satisfaction and improve those relationships.

Here are some of the takeaways from Luntz’s speech without further ado.

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Trust, trust, trust

More than half of Americans have redesigned their lives in some way during the past two years of disruption, resulting in big changes. One of the most important is that people are skeptical. “I wrote skeptically, but that’s really cynicism,” Luntz says. “That’s one of the reasons we’re so negative about the economy: we don’t trust the experts.”

This could create an environment for advisors to thrive if they carefully frame their services.

Less fine print

Luntz recapped a recent experience in his own financial life, where he created an irrevocable trust and ended up signing documents for 15 minutes. It’s exactly the kind of experience that doesn’t engender trust: you don’t read anything, so you feel like you’re putting blind faith in the fine print. “The less fine print, the better,” he says.

Go one layer further

Asking “What do you mean by that” isn’t just for customers. Consider this exchange where Luntz helped a Michigan counselor determine her own value proposition through a series of questions:

Luna: What do you think is the main reason people should trust you when it comes to financial decisions?
To advise: Because I’m really interested in helping them.
Luna: How do they know you’re really interested?
To advise: Because I take the time to know them.
Luna: What does time have to do with it?
To advise: This is how we build real relationships.

This third answer is the answer to question number one, and Luntz says you should use it with clients. It is essential to ask follow-up questions to get the real answers to your initial questions; The former are often only surface level soundings.

What customers need to hear

Sometimes reframing the way you say something makes all the difference in the world. For example, Luntz noted the growing importance of accountability. Customers don’t need you to listen to them. If that’s all you’re going to do, the impact of the action is still missing. This lack is part of this growing skepticism.

“I used to tell people it was, ‘I hear you, I get it,’ Luntz says. “Now you have to add, ‘Let’s do it.'” This action creates accountability. Customers also need to hear you say, at some point during the first 30 minutes of consultation: “My first responsibility is ___”.

“When you offer real accountability, your customers will respond,” says Luntz. To execute this, you need to know what they expect.

Luntz spent much of his speech urging advisers to rethink commonly used terms. A trope like “hassle-free” tends to mean something different to everyone. Asking people to explain themselves more can help you meet their expectations, which helps build their confidence.

“I don’t ask what their goals are; I ask them what successful investments look like,” he says. A successful investment is easier to define and potentially to achieve, which helps to pass on responsibility.

Talking about investments instead of goals can seem like a big change for many advisors. However, it is an important element in order to be able to properly discuss the investment. For example, when discussing what you offer with your company, saying “investment tools” has more impact than “investment services”.

“If you’re talking about investment services, you throw at them. Sell ​​them. It becomes about them if you use investment tools,” says Luntz. Use language focused on the customer and their needs, not you.

Don’t fall short of a suit

Luntz then asked: What do advisors get wrong when talking to young clients?

Although Luntz has previously discussed the importance of crypto, global exposure, and work/life balance when working with younger clients, none of these were mentioned in his answer to this question. Instead, Luntz’s answer was simple: They overdress.

“Young people at the moment are more laid back. Even those who are smart and understand what they want to achieve still don’t want to be lectured by someone in a suit and tie,” Luntz says. “I would try to dress a cut above the person I’m throwing or talking to. If he’s wearing a polo shirt, wear a button-down shirt. If they’re wearing a t-shirt, wear a polo shirt.

It would be impossible to squeeze everything from Luntz’s session into one article, but I hope the takeaways and images here give you an idea of ​​what he conveyed on stage at Exchange.

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