More than a number

Edward Jones’ services don’t stop at investment planning. Financial advisers and branch office administrators (BOAs) also offer hugs, instructions for reheating leftovers, and help selecting and installing flat-screen TVs.

The firm’s structure alone lends itself to providing personalized service, with 140 accessible branch locations in Northeast Ohio that scatter associates throughout local communities. So clients are neighbors and familiar faces, rather than just numbers.

In January 2007, Managing Partner Jim Weddle launched a formal Client Service Excellence initiative, assigning a partner to work with J.D. Power & Associates to conduct customer satisfaction surveys. Three months and 400,000 phone interviews later, Edward Jones began producing client ratings for each branch office across the country.

The surveys continued on a quarterly basis until spring 2009, when the firm switched to a more cost-effective, semiannual schedule.

The survey ratings are used to recognize financial advisers from the highest-scoring branch in each region with a Client Service Excellence award. Additionally, the 300 BOAs with the top ratings received a chain of gifts that led to the inaugural BOA Managing Partner’s Conference in 2007 — a congratulatory e-mail followed by a personalized letter from Weddle, a suitcase customized with the conference’s logo and then an expenses-paid, three-day trip to the event in St. Louis.

Survey data was also used — in combination with client focus groups and focus groups with leaders from high-scoring branches — to develop a best practices model, which was introduced in 2008. The online site provides reference tools for branch leaders, complete with audio narration that incorporates the survey results into strategies they can use to improve client service.

How to reach: Edward Jones, (216) 464-7930 or