How to Provide the Level of Service Clients Will Talk About
By now, financial advisors with any ambition of success know that the only way to stand out in a vast sea of sameness is by providing an extraordinary customer experience—one that can turn your clients into stark raving fans. To do anything less relegates you to the ranks of every other advisor who prides themselves on providing “excellent service” to their clients. “Excellence” is now a minimum expectation of clients who have been raising the bar for advisors for the last decade.
So, what is an extraordinary client experience, and how can advisors consistently deliver it? The challenge for advisors is there is no standardization for delivering superior client service. One client is different from the next in how they view the level of service provided. The level of communication and engagement that suits one type of client may fall short for another type.
What all clients want
The only constant that should matter to advisors is that all clients want to feel special—as though they are significant to you and you genuinely care about their well-being. They don’t want to be seen as just another account or a part of your client base. More than excellent service, they want a personalized experience.
However, it would be extremely challenging to operate outside core processes advisors need to create efficiencies in managing client service. Instead, advisors must create opportunities within their processes to provide meaningful, client-centric experiences. Here are three ways advisors can create or find opportunities in their existing client service processes:
#1. Narrow your focus
Advisors with a broad and diverse client base have a difficult challenge in meeting their clients’ unique needs and preferences. Advisors who cater to a narrower market or niche can more easily identify concerns, interests, and values shared by a targeted group of clients with similar backgrounds, demographics, or business challenges.
Capturing your target niche in a client persona allows you to communicate more effectively with your clients with more relevant and meaningful content, whether through emails, blog posts, webinars, or presentations. Your message can be tailored so that it will resonate with your clients. More importantly, because of your deeper understanding of their challenges and interests, you can create more opportunities to engage with them at a higher level.
#2. Personalize all touchpoints
Advisors who are effective at managing client services work from a service calendar that includes all potential touchpoints with their clients—from onboarding to financial plan reviews to quarterly updates and periodic check-ins. While most of the process is automated, advisors should seek opportunities to personalize each touchpoint, reaching out with a phone call or handwritten note to remind clients of an upcoming meeting. Each face-to-face meeting should be followed with a handwritten note of thanks. Sending clients an article in a hand-addressed envelope that would be of particular interest to them is the highest form of personalization.
Most advisors include their clients’ birthdays in their CRM. Create more personalized touchpoints by recognizing their wedding and job anniversaries. Add notes and dates of upcoming special events such as their children’s graduation or wedding, and send a personalized note of congratulations.
We’re talking about just a few additional minutes for each touchpoint to make them more meaningful to your clients.
#3. Enlist your clients to co-create their extraordinary experience
Do you want to know what an extraordinary client experience looks like? Ask them. Who better to inform you than clients themselves? Enlist ten clients (more if you can schedule the time) and interview them about their most fantastic customer experiences. Not only will you gain a deeper understanding of what they value, but you are also likely to uncover some common themes.
Ask your clients:
- Tell me about your most memorable service experience and what made it so.
- What negative customer experience have you experienced, and what made it so?
- What organization or professional has made a significant difference in your life and why?
- Walk me through your entire customer experience with them.
You can even get more specific and ask them what you can do to make their experience more memorable and meaningful. Just having this conversation with your clients will make them feel special. Be sure to send them a gift certificate for a restaurant they’ll enjoy.
It all comes down to making your clients feel they couldn’t get this level of attention and service from anyone else, which is what differentiation is all about.
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