The Australian financial services industry is rightfully obsessed with the outcomes of the recently released Royal Commission report. The core concept underlying the 76 recommendations is to provide a better outcome to the client – the average Australian. While businesses debate the potential implications of the report, clients are being exposed to this by the media. Engaging your clients meaningfully and outlining what the Royal Commission outcomes mean to them (and to you) is a journey that almost every adviser should have embarked on by now.
Client engagement is about encouraging your clients to interact and experience the proposition you create for them as a business. Firms that pay attention to client engagement are focused more on value demonstration, than on revenue extraction. Whether you are a single person firm or a large organisation, you want your clients to understand and relate to your brand proposition.
However, it seems easier said than done, in particular for smaller businesses that are stretched for resources – both human and capital. In reality, you do not necessarily have to splurge on large media campaigns. There are different ways to build and nurture your client relationships.
I would like to outline five strategies that can be used to increase the strength of your client relationships.
1. Keep in touch, regularly
This seems to be (and is) an obvious suggestion but I was surprised at the paucity of active client engagement by most service-oriented firms. Financial advisers
The counter argument to keeping in touch “regularly” is that clients could find it annoying. Most clients prefer at least a few active engagements in a year (in person or via a phone call) but are not averse to passive forms of engagement – through digital platforms. A corollary
To round out this strategy, it is quintessential to remember that it is never a good idea to come across as too “
2. Build trust through transparency
It turns out that we (and our clients) are trained to feel that companies are always scheming to get us with hidden fees and confusing policies. The only way to build the kind of trust that lasts is through transparency in action. We know that it’s not a perfect world, and sometimes you will not be able to deliver a solution in exactly the way your clients would want. In such instances, give them all the information you have – good or bad – and in a timely manner. Trust is an attribute that can only be acquired over time through a diligent process.
A golden rule of client engagement is “To be a friend, but not too friendly”. It’s a fine line but an important one. At times, advisers have to be assertive in their recommendation that the client may not readily agree to. At such times, the recommendations should come from a trusted adviser and not from a friend.
If you are in a document-intensive business, ensure that your clients have easy access to all their documentation, in one place. This increases the trust factor with the client knowing they have their policies, wills, investment certificates, SOA, etc., in one place rather than scattered across their emails, drives and hard copies in drawers.
3. Offer Insights
One of the successful strategies to deliver relevant insights is to actually ask hard questions to your clients. This may seem difficult in the beginning, but over time will lay a strong foundation for your relationship. You can then offer insights on shaping the answers to those difficult questions. Asking tough questions in a respectable manner is an art that is worth cultivating.
4. Espouse brand values at every step, through action
People relate to values. Be it Apple’s design-oriented customer experience or the consistency of McDonald products – customers come to expect certain outcomes from brands.
From your very first client touch point, articulate what you / your brand stands for and stay committed to your core values. Over time, your clients will judge you on the consistency of your adherence to these values. In fact, your best clients will be those who believe in values similar to yours.
5. The destination is the journey
Client engagement is an ongoing process and you should be excited to connect with your clients. Remember, it is not about receiving a response every time you reach out, but to let them know you are there and that you stand for certain values.
Some of the tactics you could use for an ongoing engagement are:
- Tap into partnerships to offer incentives and rewards in tune with your clients’ needs and interests
- Recognise and reward advocates with gift vouchers or a shout out on social media (with their prior approval of course!)
- Run surveys and publish results that are exclusive to your clients
Client engagement should be in the fabric of your overall business processes and not an afterthought. When implemented effectively, incremental efforts will result in substantial long term returns in terms of loyalty, referrals and a deep sense of trust.
– Sandeep Rao
CEO, Bondle Australia
Bondle is the world’s first client collaboration platform. It builds trust in professional relationships by seamlessly integrating document, tasks and communication management on a single platform. You can find more information at www.bondle.app or just download the app on to your mobile / tablet.
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