Retirement Plan providers can never let a client’s anger fester

I live in Oceanside, New York, an unincorporated village on the South Shore of Nassau County, Long Island. Hurricane Sandy pummeled Oceanside including my home. I had 5 feet of water in the house and both cars were destroyed.

For some reason, which has never been explained, Oceanside Sanitation did not come back for several weeks to pick up the trash. For some reason that has also never been explained, Oceanside has a Sanitation District separate from the town that it is run like its own little fiefdom.

Garbage was piling up and there were rumors that Sanitation workers were pulled off the street after several of them were accepting bribes from other residents. To this day, I still don’t know whether those rumors are true or not. The Town of Hempstead eventually bailed out Oceanside Sanitation by sending their garbage trucks and working with them to hire a debris removal company. Again, there was no explanation why Oceanside Sanitation was missing in action during this time of crisis.

A few weeks back, we had a rarely contested election for one of the Sanitation District commissioner positions. The incumbent, 7 months after Sandy, was offering excuses why Oceanside Sanitation was unable to remove the debris. Instead of accepting some responsibility for the loss of leadership, he pointed to the awards that Oceanside Sanitation received from the school district from the clean up and he claimed that residents impacted by Sandy were unreasonable to expect the District to clear the debris. He then congratulated himself on the job that he did after the Hurricane. Some politicians endorsed the incumbent because he was part of the same political party, but there was no reason as to why he should be re-elected.

I don’t think I have been as mad about an election in my life and 1,200 other Oceanside residents were also angry enough to vote and the incumbent was crushed. Does he get our anger now? Probably not, he’s just too arrogant. Had he wanted to keep his position, he should have started campaigning after the storm and offer a reason why the District failed us. His problem is that he didn’t think we had a right to know until it was too late. Until as recent as the election, the Sanitation District had no website and the website they did set up wouldn’t even name the Sanitation Commissioners.

Retirement plan providers can never be arrogant when it comes to the gripes raised by their clients. If clients have an issue with your service, you can’t discount because anger festers and boils over into an irreversible cycle that gets you fired. If something goes wrong, you have to offer an explanation why and you just can’t come up with an excuse when it’s convenient for you. You need to be hands on and nip problems in the bud. Clients have a right to know why something goes wrong and you can’t just offer an explanation when it’s time for the client to renew their service agreement with you or pay your bill.

For every relationship that went sour in my life, the reason 100% of the time was a lack of communication. Whether it’s one side or both sides, the lack of communication festered into an anger that irreparably damaged the relationship. A retirement plan provider can’t afford to be arrogant because there are dozens of other competing providers ready to replace you.

Constant communication is one of the great tools that a retirement plan provider can have in preserving their relationship with their clients, so it’s key that you are in frequent communication and never take advantage of their business, their trust, and their goodwill. Otherwise, you may be out of a job like the Oceanside Sanitation District Commissioner.

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