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In This Issue
Improving the Customer Experience
Increasing Employee Job Satisfaction
Encouraging Personal Development
SCS e-xpress Jan/Feb 2011

question buttonA Message from Sarah & Chris:

The theme of this issue is "asking the right questions."

Wouldn't it be great if you could push a magic button and automatically get all the information you need?  Although it's not magic, when you take the time to ask the right questions, the payoffs can be huge.  The answers to the right questions will open doors to knowledge and help you gain a much deeper understanding of the real issues at stake.  Always address the first question to yourself:  "What is it that I want to know?"  Read on to understand the power of asking the right questions.  
SCS understands the importance of asking the right questions, and we'd like to ask you for your opinions regarding Continuing Professional Education.  Please take our brief survey - and we'll share the survey results in our next e-newsletter. 
We hope you enjoy our free SCS e-newsletter.  Please send us your ideas and suggestions for future issues.  Have a great day!  
Where We'll Be
Las Vegas, NV
03/06/11 - 03/08/11


Dimensional 401(k) Workshop

Miami, FL



Sawgrass, FL
03/20/11 - 03/22/11

The Power of Three Workshop
Hilton Head, SC
04/06/11 - 04/08/11

Western Benefits Conference
Las Vegas, NV
07/24/11 - 07/27/11

Matrix University
Keystone, CO
08/21/11 - 08/24/11
National Harbor, MD
10/23/11 - 10/26/11
Today's Tips

Don't miss Sarah Simoneaux, Chris Stroud and Sal Tripodi in the Power of 3 Workshop to be held  April 6 - 8, 2011, in Hilton Head, SC.  Act now to take advantage of the discounted hotel rates.  Only $135 if you reserve by 3/13/11.
Today's Quotes

If you ask the wrong question, of course, you get the wrong answer. We find in design it's much more important and difficult to ask the right question. Once you do that, the right answer becomes obvious.
    - Amore Lovins, CEO,
    Rocky Mountain Institute

One of the most important things in communication is to hear what isn't being said.  

Today's Laughs


Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they are looking for ideas.

   - Paula Poundstone, Comedian 

What was the best thing before sliced bread?


                                               web at 

Improving the Customer Experience 
 by Asking the Right Questions 

My newly employed 24-year-old nephew texted me this message:  "Help! My boss is making me go to a 401(k) meeting - can you call me?"  Just the fact that he wanted me to call him and not text him meant the issue was important.  He explained that he was frustrated that he had to go to a company meeting to learn about the 401(k) plan that he felt he already understood. He had already decided to participate - at a 10% deferral rate, no less.  His primary complaint:  "Why didn't they ask me how I wanted to get the 401(k) plan information?  Where is the iphone app or the website I can access?  No one my age wants to go to a meeting to learn something when we can learn about it online." 


Before we shake our heads at Gen Yers in the workplace, think about the simple - but critical - concept he articulated: ask me how to best communicate with me about my plan.  This concept could be applied to every plan sponsor, advisor and participant that we deal with about retirement programs.  The first impression of a services firm is often the initial communication with the advisor, plan sponsor and their participants.  Before diving into the details and to-do lists, take a moment to ask, "What is the best way for me to communicate with you?"  And then STICK to that communication method. Asking the right questions early in the relationship will result in positive outcome and give a good first impression of the firm.


Want to see the type of 401(k) communication program that my nephew liked?  Check out the vWise SmartPlan...

 man Q 

  Increasing  Employee Job Satisfaction 
 by Asking the Right Questions


Relationship managers (RMs) and account managers (AMs) are on the front lines of retirement plan communication every day.  Although companies usually provide some qualified plan and customer service training, we often find that these front line employees are dealing with complex questions from participants and sponsors, and many of these questions are not easy to answer. "Can I roll my 401(k) account into my 403(b) plan?"  "Why did I have to contribute a minimum five percent of payroll instead of the safe harbor three percent of pay?"  "Why was part of my deferral returned to me this year?"      


RMs and AMs would like to be able to answer these questions for sponsors and participants without having to refer them to the compliance department, especially during tax season when compliance teams are busiest.  Crafting a survey that both explores what RMs and AMs know as well as eliciting honest feedback from them about bottlenecks in their day to day work is an essential precursor to implementing a training program.  Too often, training misses the mark on helping employees on the front lines do their jobs.  Asking employees the right questions prior to the creation of a training program allows the training to be customized with real-life case studies that relate to the questions the front line teams are getting every day.  And equally as important, the employees will be grateful that someone took the time to ask them what they need and what they think.  The end result:  Happy employees yield happy customers!  



To learn more about how SCS can help your firm ask the right questions, develop surveys and customize training to meet your needs, click here...



 rubix cube 

 Encouraging Personal Development
 by Asking the Right Questions


One of your team members walks in your office and tells you she has a problem with a plan.  At that point, you have choices.  You can simply offer a solution based on the information you are given.  Although offering a quick answer might be expedient, it may not have long-term benefits.  Instead, by asking the right questions, you can help that employee find the best solution herself. Craft your questions in a way that will make her explore new avenues and expand the way she approaches a problem.  The long-term benefit will be that you are helping to build character and develop the employee into a valuable resource who can contribute more to the organization.     



Once you create a culture that values questions, you will see improvements in problem solving techniques and creative thinking.  Try this:  In the next review cycle, ask each of your direct reports this question.  "If you could change one thing to contribute to the success of our company, what would it be?"  You might be amazed by the insightful answers you will receive.  This technique works great in group brainstorming sessions also.  




What Our Customers are Saying...

"The customer service training was especially good (compared to other training we've had) because the case studies and exercises related to 'our world.'"

- Professional development workshop attendee

Power of 3 Retirement Industry Update Workshop

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