“The handwriting's on the wall for those who want to survive in financial services: how and why we get paid has changed dramatically. Many of the old ways of doing business are obsolete. In these days of digital communication and do-not-call lists, Kip Gregory's book tells you how to harness computers and the Internet to do everything from organizing your ideas and streamlining your systems to what we all want most - finding good prospects and providing great personal service to our clients.”
—Richard Russo, Senior Vice President
Seminar Content for Client Appreciation Events
Just like you, your clients are trying hard to avoid information overload. Show them how they can and you'll be a hero. Here are some ideas to get you started.
(Tip: Two of the best resources you'll find online for addressing these issues and others like them are PC Magazine and PC World. Add both to your list of favorite sites or better yet, include them in the "Useful Web Sites" section of your knowledge journal!).
Working with E-mail
Setting up and maintaining distribution lists/groups of family, friends, and others (some people call them e-mail "trees")
About.com's section on Email includes a concise write up on how to Set up a Distribution List in Outlook. Alternatively you can Google on creating OR "setting up" group email distribution lists for list of links to other articles and write ups.
You can't page through a magazine these days without finding a story on the plague in unwanted e-mail. One place that offers a current, regularly-updated list of those articles is Fight Spam on the Internet. PC Magazine's February 17, 2004 cover story Spam Blockers gives some helpful tips on how to deal with the problem. And don't forget Winning Clients in a Wired World which includes a whole section on the subject called "Shield Yourself from Spam," on pages 159 - 160 of Chapter 6.
Protecting against computer viruses
Another topic covered in Winning Clients (on page 210), you will find lots of helpful information about this subject at Symantec's AntiVirus Center and McAfee's Security Headquarters, both of which provide descriptions of latest virus threats and tools for removing them.
Working with (i.e., sending, receiving, and storing) attachments
The February 17, 2004 issue of PC Magazine also has a helpful write up on utilities that can make sending, receiving, and storing attachments a whole lot easier. Check out the E-Mail Client Utilities article online.
Switching e-mail or Internet service providers
Whether your access speed is too slow, your mailbox is too full, or customer support too unresponsive, you may find yourself needing to switch e-mail (and Internet) providers. PeoplePC online provides a helpful list of how to cancel service at nine popular e-mail providers including AOL and MSN. Read Email Change of Address Services at EmailAddresses.com to see where you can register both your old and your new accounts free of charge so you can easily notify contacts in your address book.
Working with the Web
Which tools (browser, search engine, etc.) are best and how they work
Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Google are the undisputed winners in the Web browsing and search tool popularity contest. If you want to take better advantage of all that they offer, be sure to read "Turbocharging Your Browser" in Chapter 3 of Winning Clients ("Work the Web for All It's Worth"). It spells out seven tweaks you can complete in less than an hour to turn IE into a Ferrari that rockets you right to the information you want.
Finding what's needed and avoiding what isn't
Google offers two of the best, most concise descriptions you'll find online on how to pinpoint what you're looking for using keywords and the proper search techniques. Read The Basics of Google Search and then Advanced Search Made Easy. For something more comprehensive (but still understandable) take a look at A Short and Easy Search Engine Tutorial from Pandia Search Central.
Eliminating pop-up ads
The Google Toolbar is one free way to eliminate many of those annoying pop-up ads that appear unexpectedly on your screen. The MSN Toolbar is another. Both also offer tools that make finding what you need online easier and faster.
How to view, download, and save files
LearnTheNet's article Download Files: How To Do It walks step-by-step through how to download and save copies of files located elsewhere on the Internet to your computer's hard drive. Have you been sent a file that you can't open and view? If it's from a Microsoft Office program (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Access) that you don't own, visit Microsoft's Office Converters and Viewers where you can download the viewers that's right for you. Looking for a single tool that will recognize any of hundreds of file formats you may not own, but your clients do (or vice versa)? Check out QuickViewPlus from Avantstar, a $35 product you can purchase online, or download and check out a fully-functional trial version for 30 days.
Keeping track of and sharing useful sites
Using different computers at home and at work makes organizing and remembering useful Web sites a challenge. A good bookmark management Web site can make the job easy. Google's Directory devotes an entire page to more than 30 of these mostly free services including Yahoo! Bookmarks and Backflip. Use them on your own, within your team, or across a larger group of clients, prospects, or strategic partners.
Things you want to be sure they know
Where to find your Web site and what they should use it for
Your Web site address should be included in every e-mail message and piece of printed correspondence you send out. On About.com, learn how to automatically add contact information to your outbound messages in ten of the leading email programs/services. Use that signature to highlight some useful feature of your Web site (one your clients will find valuable) and update that information at least quarterly, ideally every month.
How to access financial and other accounts online
Yodlee's free OnCenter service lets you set up and track a variety of account balances online - checking, credit cards, mortgage loans, investments, bills, even frequent flyer account mileage - all on a single screen using a secure, password-protected account. (Check with your bank or your clients' banks to see if they offer a similar service.)
How to reach you by instant messaging (if you use it)
Instant messaging, or IM, is the electronic communication standard for anyone under 30. Your clients and you can learn how it works and how to set up an account at How Instant Messaging Works. Chapter 4 of Winning Clients, "Build Relationships Through Better Communication", includes a summary of the leading IM programs and some suggestions on how to use it as a client service tool.
How to open, read, and save PDF files you send them
One of the most concise descriptions of how to work with PDF (Portable Document Format) documents can be found in the article Using Adobe Reader to Open PDF Files. For answers to a wide range of troubleshooting and usability questions on Adobe Reader, the most common PDF file viewer, visit the Adobe Reader support page.