Delighting your way to better client relationships

Delighting your way to better client relationships

Vanessa Oligino | March 7, 2017

You probably put a considerable amount of effort into “wooing” prospects, but do you have a documented client experience plan beyond that stage?

Are you delivering experiences worth sharing throughout a client’s tenure with your firm—or just during the prospect phase? If you’re like most advisors, you probably put a considerable amount of effort into “wooing” prospects. But do you have a documented client experience plan that considers the unique needs of clients during all four phases of the client experience (universal, prospective, first year, and beyond)? If not, now may be a good time to build one. Doing so is a great way to increase client engagement and create advocates for your firm.

Consider the four phases of the client experience

Your client experience strategy should encompass each phase of the typical client journey.

Universal clients
A universal client is any person who is in the market for a financial advisor. They may have been referred to you by a trusted source or simply become aware of your firm. However, they may not have decided to make contact yet. Since universal clients will undoubtedly ask around and search for you online, it’s crucial to analyze your digital footprint and make sure that the message being broadcast is positive and engaging. Universal clients may encounter your firm via public information sources that could community engagement, digital marketing, social media interactions, and word of mouth. Double-check your website to see if it provides meaningful information, then come up with ideas for additional content that universal clients might find useful, such as blog posts or podcasts. Creating your own content is an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise and illustrate the value of your partnership.

Prospective clients
Once an investor has narrowed down their list of potential advisors and made contact with you, they are considered a prospective client. These prospects typically want to “test-drive” your services and see how knowledgeable you are through meet-and-greets, webcasts and written communications. They may even request to speak with some of your existing clients to get a better feel for what it’s like to work with your firm.

There are several ways that you can engage with prospective clients in order to give them a positive experience. Consider:

Setting up discovery meetings. Whether you host these sessions by phone, video conference, or face to face, make a point to really listen and get to know the prospect.
Sprucing up the place. If they visit your office, ensure that your décor is attractive and welcoming to your ideal prospect. Provide snacks and beverages upon arrival and prepare your team in advance so they can properly greet the prospective client.
Humanizing your firm. Don’t just talk business. Share about your culture and what makes your firm different. Display pictures of team-building events, awards you’ve received, photos of your team engaged in charity service, or hobbies and other mementos that can give the prospect a bigger picture of what your firm is all about.

First-year clients
Throughout the first year of business with a client, focus on ways you can make the onboarding experience as seamless as possible and stay up to date with them consistently. Consider:

Setting up ongoing check-in points. From the very beginning, you should schedule meetings to get updates on your clients and make sure they’re familiar with client portals, their new accounts, and your team.
Creating a virtual or physical binder. Give your clients easy, secure access to their financial documents online so that they can reference them anytime. Other clients may prefer a physical hard-copy binder.
Saying thanks. Sending a short email, text message, or handwritten note to simply thank clients for putting their trust and faith in you can be an easy but effective way to show you’re grateful.

Existing clients
As time goes by, it’s easy to let things slide into autopilot. But to continue to build engagement with your clients, you need to keep up to date with what’s going on with them and stay relevant in their lives. When you fail to connect outside of an annual check-in, you may miss opportunities to add value—not to mention the risk of making clients feel forgotten.

While some advisors think it’s hard or expensive, there are plenty of ways to strengthen your connection with your clients over time. The key is to do so in a personal and relevant way. Consider:

Hosting social events. Get your entire client base together from time to time for fun events, like barbecues, potluck dinners, or an outdoor movie. If you have a little extra money to spend, consider hosting a cooking class, gallery exhibit, or visit to a theme park.
Sending a gift. An occasional gift is always a welcome surprise. This could be as small as a gift card to a store they love or as big as tickets to see their favorite baseball team play a game. Just be sure it’s something they actually want; otherwise, you’ll just end up giving them a gift that indicates you don’t know anything about them.
Educating clients. For many investors, their financial advisor is their go-to source for sound advice. They crave information and appreciate when you’re proactively providing it on a regular basis.

Discover more ways to engage

Although these featured ideas make a great start, there are many, many more ways to provide your clients with experiences worth sharing. The methods you ultimately select should reflect your firm’s culture, and the needs and preference of your clients. As you build your strategy, make sure you are on the right track by asking your clients for feedback, brainstorming ideas, and gaining insight into today’s investor.

By listening to client needs, offering the right services and solutions, and showing your appreciation along the way, you can take the steps toward creating a positive client experience that not only meets expectations, but also creates loyal advocates for your firm.

1. The 2016 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: Growth by Design.
2. The Four Principles of an Extraordinary Client Experience, developed by AbsoluteEngagement.com in collaboration with TD Ameritrade Institutional, 2016.