When providing customer service to a large demographic area such as Greater Phoenix Valley (Maricopa County), we would like to think we are at the top of our game and that 15,000 clients can’t be wrong.  And while this might come across as a tad self-serving, it does give us a warm fuzzy feeling that our clients like us and more importantly, trust us with their business.  But what sets us apart?  Why should customers think we are different from all of our competitors?  Were we closer to their home?  Did our credentials impress them?  Did one of their close friends confide in them and recommend us?  Why did they choose us? Recent clients who had already attended one of our many Medicare workshops were at the office for a follow-up visit to review and discuss their specific issues with their health needs.  They asked a simple question.  “Why should I let you handle my business?”  Numerous possible answers flooded my mind in order to respond to this simple inquiry. With which one do I start? Our policy has and will always be “honesty is the best policy” and to be direct and to the point.  I asked the client a simple question in response to his inquiry.  “Do you know the difference between an agent and a broker?”  He admitted he wasn’t sure, so I continued on.  “An agent works for a single company and represents that company’s interest.  A broker gets certified with many companies and works for you searching for the best possible solution to fit your specific needs.”  His reply was simple, “I understand that, but I’m sure there are other brokers with multiple certifications that could take care of my needs.  What makes ARA special?”  I replied, “We may not be the perfect solution for everyone, and in fact might not be the right advisors for you.  But we have 97% of our customers tell us they choose us because of our customer service and free private appointments to assist them in choosing their personal best option for health care and financial needs.” I continued with asking the clients, “But, maybe we should establish a better understanding of what your expectations are, concerning customer service.”  For a minute I thought I was not going to get an answer, as the clients sat there silently in thought.  I jump started the thought process.  “How about we consider the fact that ARA is an ongoing source of information about education of choices?  We mail our monthly newsletter to clients all over the U.S. and many thousands more pick it up electronically.  We get feedback from 100’s of our clients and pass along that information to you each and every month.  We want to provide that ongoing educational experience with government changes, rate increases, possible penalties, and new plans that may benefit you. What about the fact that we are a full service financial planning office providing assistance with life insurance, long term care issues, retirement planning, wills, power of attorney’s, both financial and medical.  Our staff is totally dedicated to people who are in transition from their working years to retirement years and we are sensitive to the fact that now you have your nest egg you don’t want to break it, or worst lose it.”  I could see that the wheels were spinning with the new client couple and that they were now engaged with the thought process. Not everyone has the same concerns about customer service, but finding an advisor who cares, is the most important factor when choosing a person with whom you do business.  Of course we want your ongoing business because we want you to feel 100% comfortable that you are dealing with the very best professional staff that you can find! Don’t like the plan you selected?  We’ll find you another one!  Got a question?  We’ll give you the answer!  If you don’t like something we do, tell us!!  If you enjoy our customer service, tell your friends!!!!  Providing information and educating our friends on their choices is the role we continue to play in assisting folks through this serious transition period in their lives.  More importantly, the decisions that they make can and will affect them for the balance of their lives.  Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to serve you! David Edge, Vice President edge