Here we are in 2021, and…not much has changed since 2020 ended. Alas, our tumultuous public health, political, and day-to-day life situations rage on. As financial services professionals, it has therefore become vitally important to adapt creatively to our virtual and online realities and engage with our clients in more genuine, meaningful ways. And don’t just take our word for it. According to recent insights from Harvard Business Review,emotionally connected, meaningfully engaged clients are more than twice as valuable as clients who are highly satisfied with service alone. And, that sentiment appears here to stay. So, how can we ensure we are “pandemic-proofing” our client engagement and emerging from this whole mess well-positioned as ever? Here are 10 ways to get you started.
1.) Check in More.
Many of your clients likely have the perception that you aren’t communicating frequently enough or adding value through communication. Don’t wait until the $#*% hits the fan, pick up the phone and check in. Ask how they’re doing, if there’s anything on their minds, anything you can help with, etc. Think of it this way: if you want to be their go-to advisor, you need to be there to advise and lend support even when it isn’t expected.
2.) Ask Clients How They’d Like to Communicate with You.
It seems simple, but you’d be surprised how easily you could engage more clients if you adapt to their communication style. Ask your client and their spouse when, how, and how often they’d like to hear from you. For example, Client A wants to hear from you often, but he prefers email because he’s on his laptop more than his phone. Therefore, if you’ve been texting Client A, you’re not going to reach him. He may even get annoyed with you. Pay attention to or ask about client communication preferences, then observe them.
3.) Bring in Your Team.
Your team should be involved in client engagement whenever possible. Here’s a list of easy engagement team members could be initiating or helping with:
- Just-in-time texts & phone calls
- Monthly check-ins
- Personalized gifting
- Quarterly financial reviews
- Social & educational events
- Monthly or quarterly firm newsletters
- Top Client Insights interviews
- Social media content & engagement
- Automated email newsletters
- Annual & mid-year reviews
4.) Facilitate Lower-Stakes Client Events.
Many of us have webinar fatigue (or just plain fatigue), but also social withdrawals. There can be unique pressures associated with online socializing, as well. Manage it all with lower-stakes client events. After you call clients to ask what’s on their minds, bring a few together who have similar concerns or interests. Keep the group small, send some nice coffee or a bottle of wine ahead of time, and invite each client to bring a spouse or friend.
5.) Use (and Share) Your Resources.
Companies providing outside resources and expertise applicable to far-reaching effects of the pandemic crisis have had better client engagement than those who stuck with their usual service content, according to management consulting giant, McKinsey & Company. Do you know or partner with any lawyers, CPAs, realtors, estate planners, healthcare providers, wellness experts, business consultants, etc.? Compile a list of your recommended professionals to give to clients. They’ll appreciate the resources and you’ll strengthen multiple relationships.
6.) Bring Clients into a Monthly Coffee or Book Club Meeting.
Many of us are aching for some stimulating conversation but have grown rhetoric-weary. Bring together some intellectual clients for a monthly coffee or book club. Send a pound of a local brew ahead of time and begin each meeting with a new, thought-provoking topic. Or, dive into your book. Keep the rest open-ended and see where the conversation goes.
7.) Hold Client Insights & Feedback Interviews.
Client feedback is one of the easiest, most accessible engagement strategies there is. Hold, or have a team member hold, 15-20 minute interviews with a selection of diverse clients and ask where you can improve – there’s always room. If you want to kick it up a notch, run a focus group with the same aim, but get more in-depth when asking for feedback. You’d be surprised at what you hear and how helpful the feedback will be.
8.) Lead or Facilitate an Interactive Educational Event Within or Outside of Your Expertise.
Lead, or ask a client, friend, or colleague to lead a virtual Q&A session on an area of their expertise. This can be a financial or related topic, but could also be on anything from time management to mental healthcare to geopolitics. Again, use your resources!
9.) Personalize Thank You Notes, Invitations, and Gifts.
Hand-write thank you notes and personalize your invitations. Don’t put your logo on anything you give as a gift to a client. Instead, appeal to your very best clients’ hobbies, business, or children when gifting. Put a hiking-enthusiast client’s business logo on a Patagonia jacket. Curate a gardening-themed gift for a client’s green-thumbed spouse. Or give a client’s kids some fun school supplies to get them through the at-home school day.
10.) Engage Philanthropically.
This is an extremely difficult time for many. Give back to your community by engaging with a philanthropy supported by a group of your clients. Ask them to join you in matching donations around the holidays, stuffing backpacks for kids, or giving to a local food bank. Ask them to think of someone in their circle who would like to help too so you can expand your reach and make introductions. If you need more convincing: research shows that a brand or company’s charitable actions influence over 70% of U.S. consumers’ purchasing decisions. Meaning, people want to work with companies that do good, and become more loyal and valuable clients for those companies, too.
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