Do you know how to take a compliment? More importantly, do you know how to use a compliment?

Most businesspeople love positive client testimonials. Imagine restaurants without 5-star Yelp reviews, movies without 95% fresh ratings, weight loss clinics without before-and-after pictures. Amazon has architected its entire business around soliciting reviews for every product in its inventory, from books to electronics to spackle. They’re a critical success driver for its business.

When it comes to the financial industry, though, advisors are gun-shy about testimonials. Obviously, advisors face significant regulatory restraints to using client statements in their marketing. At times, the rules can go beyond prohibiting testimonials in marketing materials to severely cramping your social media presence, forcing you to turn off comments and limit engagement.

But just because you can’t publish testimonials doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to them. They have significant utility in opening your eyes to the real reasons why your clients love you—and they may not be the reasons you expect.

Our own experience is a good example. At FiComm, we used to think our most significant competitive advantage was our ability to quantify results. We’d report on all earned media, including interviews, inquiries, bylined article placement, press releases, media tours, you name it. Every proposal included a detailed list of the metrics we provided as part of our client service agreement. Then, we started really listening to what our clients were saying about us. Yes, accountability matters. They love our process. But what really gets them singing our praises is the fact that we are good listeners. We know their business; heck, we love their business. And we have the ability to shape our relationship with them to fit their individual needs. We remain the most accountable marketing partner in the business, but we recognize that there is much more to our value than quantifiable metrics.

And here we thought it was all about the numbers.

A lot of advisors think it’s all about the numbers, too. They track the market closely out of a sense of insecurity. They think investment performance is all they have to offer. Chances are, they’re wrong. If they actually asked clients why they stick around, they would probably hear something like, “Because you’re always there for me.”  Listening to clients can help an advisor build confidence—and that confidence could translate into reshaping their business for the better. A more confident advisor might focus more on financial planning, and perhaps even implement a flat retainer compensation model.

Your homework assignment: Call your most raving fans—your most adoring, loyal clients. Ask them why you’re so great and why they love you. Listen to what say, and build your whole service model around that.