Last month we talked about some ideas to keep you at the forefront of your clients’ minds between annual meetings, making you the one they think about when life events happen, good or bad. Part of this is creating a client experience that is fully rounded and continual. Keeping clients happy means building a relationship built on two-way trust, a holistic experience, and knowing how to provide what they need when. Obviously, this will look different for every business model, as the types of clients you service may have specific needs based on their demographic. However, here are six ideas that will help you craft your client experience.
- Budget help
One of the biggest challenges for any demographic of clients is creating and living within a budget. Your clients are likely no exception. It’s not just about investments for them; they probably need help knowing what of their incoming money should go where for mortgages, tuition, utilities, and entertainment. There are many options available to keep track of budgeting these days, including some easy-to-use mobile apps that are friendly even for older clients. Spend some time doing a little research into a few so you can be the one to introduce, explain, and even help them with the initial set-up.
Gone are the days of clients being impressed with ten-point words and technical definitions. Clients appreciate being spoken to respectfully, and that’s much easier if they can meet you on your level. While this doesn’t mean tossing them a Series 7 textbook to study, a large part of current financial planning is financial education for clients. They don’t need the super technical details, but understanding common terms and strategy concepts will help them work with you, and they’ll appreciate the time you’ve taken to keep them part of their own planning.
- Timely check-ins
Are you checking in on your clients when and how they’d like you to? There are a variety of ways to stay in contact now, and it’s important to find the right methods and levels for your own practice. You may need to experiment before you find the right balance of emails, newsletters, greeting cards, phone calls, and social media posts. Most importantly, make sure that your clients know you’re already elbows-deep in the situation when it comes to market turbulence. This is a great time to make yourself more available for questions and to share your thoughts.
- Ease of access
Speaking of making yourself available, how available are you to your clients? Do they know how, where, and when they can reach you? Your clients are as busy as you are, and the classic sit-down meeting of the past may be harder to schedule. Make sure your office hours are posted on your website (and easy to locate), look into compliance-approved texting solutions, and explore ways to continue to make meetings easy, including offering virtual meetings, having a scheduling link in your signature, and keeping meetings structured and to-the-point so clients feel they’re getting the important stuff without taking too much time for it.
- Relevant Data
We all end up with stacks of financial paper, between statements and disclosures. While you must supply regulation-mandated disclosures, re-examine the other things you’re presenting to your clients. Clients like to see what’s going on with their accounts, but a binder full of filler isn’t the way to impress. Provide them with relevant information presented in clear, easy-to-understand methods, which may include graphs or other pictorial aids. Presentation matters as well—consider a branding redesign of materials you use with clients so that not only are you only giving them things that they’ll see as valuable, you’re also putting your unique mark on it all.
- Invite Feedback
While it’s easy to slip into the professor role with clients, remember that they’re not only there to listen to you. You’re there to listen to them as well. If your clients don’t offer feedback, you should definitely ask for it. This doesn’t mean yes/ no questions. Questions should be open-ended and invite conversation. The best way to get this info may be an anonymous survey or asking specific questions about the services you offer and what else your clients are looking for. Every piece of feedback is an opportunity to grow, so treat feedback from clients as valuably as you would feedback from a consulting firm.
No model is one-size-fits-all, and changes to the way you construct your clients’ experience may take some time and adjustment. As you move your way toward higher levels of success, remember to allow yourself the flexibility to let changes develop as well as recognizing when it’s time to try something else. It’s a little exciting to continue to develop and change, and clients will appreciate your striving for improvements as well.