Six Ways to Improve Client Engagement
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In my last article about client services, I discussed how financial advisors can create a successful onboarding process. The next part of this series covers the “engage” portion of the marketing funnel. Focusing on your client engagement is an incredible opportunity for developing revenue with long-term clients, and that includes creating ongoing value, building goodwill with your clients’ families, and generating referrals.
As an advisor, you may already have some client engagement processes in place. But it’s important to periodically step back and give some thought to what you can do to make the client experience better. Every touch point is a chance to increase client engagement, and by taking a thoughtful approach you’ll leave a positive impression, not only with your clients, but with the next generation.
Let’s look at six ways wealth management firms can improve their client engagement.
- Build a client journey map
Having a client journey map saves time. A client journey map is a graphical representation of the step-by-step process followed when a new client is onboarded.
The exercise of building a client journey map offers multiple benefits. Above all else, the goal is to ensure that your client’s experience is efficient. By planning how many steps it takes to get from end to end, you find easy ways to make the onboarding process more efficient for your client.
The more complex the journey, the more likely your client engagement will suffer. Clients want simplicity. Creating your client journey map is an opportunity to put your process to the test and identify (and eliminate) any potential pain points.
- Financial advisor client appreciation events
A key aspect of client engagement is showing your clients and their families that they are appreciated. Loyal customers are your best customers. It costs more to acquire than it does to retain, so showing existing clients they matter is a good investment.
By focusing on client appreciation, you generate more long-term client engagements and create goodwill with their heirs, your next generation of clients. A well-planned and executed event can be anything from a family-friendly picnic to an online trivia night. You know your clients best, so brainstorm some creative ideas based on what you know about them.
When planning a client appreciation event, you’ll want to ensure it’s:
- Well planned: The details matter. Make sure everyone is going to be considered and well taken care of. Consider bringing in some extra help if necessary.
- Timed appropriately: Depending on your client profiles, there may be certain times of year that are not ideal for an event.
- Appealing to the broadest audience: You won’t be able to please everyone, but you should try and choose an event that will have the broadest appeal.
Set up a process for future events. If you’re running your first event, take notes – especially on things that didn’t go well. Consider how many times a year you want to run events and the types of events you’d like to host in the future. By creating a strategy and schedule for future events, you’ll be positioned to continually build your client engagement.
- Client referral process
If you’re not sure whether you need a client referral process, consider this – an estimated 81% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over those from companies.
Word of mouth marketing has a big impact on finding new clients, so by offering something to make referring more attractive, you’re rewarding your clients for something they’re already likely to do. This is a win for everyone. You get more clients, and your existing clients feel valued and appreciated. Those good feelings are critical to building strong client engagement.
To create a successful referral process, you’ll need to establish a strategy. Consider:
- What can you offer your clients that would be of value to them?
- What will the process look like? How will you communicate it to your existing clients?
- How can you make this as easy as possible for the person referring?
- Client anniversary process
Client anniversaries are something worth celebrating. They’re the perfect time to say thank you and show that you genuinely appreciate their ongoing loyalty.
For client anniversaries, establish a strategy for when, what, and how:
- Where/how are you tracking client anniversaries?
- What are you going to send them? A personalized card? A small gift? Something else?
- Who’s going to handle buying and mailing out anniversary gifts or cards?
- Is there any way you can automate this process?
- Holiday planning
Holiday planning is one of those client engagement activities that can be prepared well in advance. The trick is having a plan for what you’re doing and how you’ll do it.
If you’re not someone who loves shopping or picking out cards, the good news is there are plenty of services available for this very thing. If you’re giving your clients a branded item, then nail down your supplier and figure out how much you need months ahead of time.
The last thing you want is to plan the whole thing out and then get busy and drop the ball. Your plan should not only cover the what; it should also cover the who. Don’t forget to consider the time that goes into things like printing labels or going to the post office. Depending on your workload, it may be a smart idea to get help with your gifts.
Not all of your clients celebrate the same holidays, so not all cards or gifts are appropriate for everyone. Acknowledging these differences and making them feel appreciated during a time that is special to them personally is just another way to keep them engaged with you and your business.
- Birthday cards
Sending birthday cards is yet another way to improve client engagement. Everyone loves knowing they’re being thought of, and birthday cards are an easy and inexpensive way to accomplish this. This is also another great way to create touch points with the next generation, consider sending cards to your client’s children as well.
When putting together your strategy for handling birthdays, answer these questions:
- How will you know when their birthday is? Consider asking for their date of birth as part of your onboarding intake process.
- How can you make these cards stand out? Are there any great local designers you can buy from?
- What kind of reminders do you need to ensure nobody gets missed?
- How will you handle ensuring cards are mailed?
Measuring your client engagement
Like anything in your business, if you’re going to expend effort to improve your client engagement, you’ll want to have a plan to measure how things are going. This is one area where it pays to be proactive and not reactive, and the best place to start is directly with your clients.
Gathering feedback on how your clients feel about their experience with you and your business is something for which you can have a process in place. Collect this feedback at regular intervals and adjust quickly when there are things to be addressed.
Some ideas for what to include in your process could be:
- Leverage your CRM and create reminders to check in with each client at regular intervals.
- Create a client survey. This can be done through an online service (like Survey Monkey), through Google Docs, or even just plain text docs that can be printed or emailed directly to your clients.
- Scheduling quarterly or annual reviews. Create an agenda template so what is asked in these reviews is consistent from one client to the next.
Client engagement requires consistency
One of the biggest mistakes financial advisors make when it comes to client engagement is a lack of consistency. Building loyalty takes time, and your clients should be hearing from you on a regular basis so you stay top of mind.
By creating strategies for client engagement and putting processes in place, you’ll ensure your clients know you care for and respect them – exactly what everyone wants out of a great relationship.
Are you a financial advisor looking to improve your client engagement and get your processes in place?
Contact us at Crystal Marketing solutions to see how we can help.
Crystal Lee Butler, MBA is a creative marketer and results-oriented business consultant with over a decade of experience collaborating with independent advisors. At Crystal Marketing Solutions, she delivers exceptional insights for financial professionals enabling them to create a consistent marketing presence so they can focus on the things that matter most to them.