Are you the first phone call your client makes when they experience joy or sadness in their life? In my field of financial planning, building strong relationships is key to doing the best work for clients and standing out from the competition.
In any business or industry, people have choices on where to seek similar products and solutions, and I’ve found this to be especially true in a service-oriented business. Competition is intense. Therefore, I have made it a priority to establish best practices for maintaining positive relationships with clients.
Here are a few of the best practices I keep at my company that may also help your business:
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1. Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Building trust with your clients requires you to be proactive about addressing their needs—not just reacting to requests. This means being proactive about scheduled check-ins and updates, whether they are monthly calls or in-person meetings.
When your company takes on a new client, you should ask how often they’d like to be contacted. It varies by field and person. Some people like an annual review; others like a check-in once a week. Some people find frequent contact annoying, while others fear being forgotten altogether. It’s personal, so make sure to note how often someone wants to hear from you.
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2. Offer Value, Not a Sales Pitch
When getting in touch with your clients, offer them value—not a sales pitch. This could be helpful advice, timely information about changes in their industry or simply an update on how your team is meeting their goals and objectives.
The aim is to keep communication open and continue to learn about your clients’ needs and how you can best meet them. Perhaps you present a piece of education to them in an innovative way; it could cause them to think differently and reveal something about themselves that wasn’t brought up before. Remember, it’s a relationship—not a transaction.
As one idea, over the past year, my organization started hosting “coffee talks” to continue to provide value to the existing client. We invited clients for a Zoom call with varying topics and kept the format informal with the intention of our clients getting involved in the conversation and not feeling afraid of asking questions or sharing their thoughts. It’s a fantastic way of gaining insight into what’s on your client’s mind and getting to know them better, accomplished simply by presenting information through a different medium.
3. Personalize The Experience
To many, the journey is as important as the end goal. Make an effort to personalize the experience for each client. This could be as simple as remembering their spouse’s name or where they are looking to go on their next vacation. Personalization lets your clients know they are more than just a number or dollar sign to you, and it makes them feel remembered and valued.
Make sure your customer relationship manager (CRM) includes fields for information you feel is important so that all team members can personalize the experience—whether that is for you as the leader and advisor or for your client service coordinator.
Your team should note communication preferences such as call, email or a certain time of the day to get in touch. Not only should your notes include space for family members’ names and favorite things, but make sure to also have a dedicated area or means by which this information can be shared easily with everyone on your team.
4. Seek Feedback And Use It
Seek feedback from your clients, and use it to improve the experience. This could be done informally; perhaps during a conversation, you ask how they are doing and if there’s anything you can do better. Or, it could be more formalized such as conducting a survey or focus group.
Negative feedback can come in different ways, such as a disappointing client interaction or someone taking their business to one of your competitors. In these cases, it is crucial to listen and take it in. Listening to feedback can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that it’s a gift and an opportunity to improve and grow so that you can continue to provide an exceptional experience.
Feedback from your team is also important. Making sure your team is working together efficiently has a direct impact on your client’s experience. If communication is lacking behind the scenes, the client’s needs won’t be served as effectively as they could be. I’ve found that team members often have great ideas for improving communication and the client experience, and implementing their suggestions can help improve your business.
5. Show You Care
Making sure your clients know that you care has always been the way to show they are valued. This could be done in many ways, such as sending a handwritten note after an important life event, or maybe you include a small gift. It can be as simple as taking time to ask about their day.
Caring about your clients goes beyond providing them with your products and services. It’s important to be there for them during the good times and the bad. If you build a strong enough relationship, they may start feeling comfortable sharing both the highs and lows of their lives with you. In turn, you can provide support and guidance through some of life’s most difficult challenges.
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Customer relationship management and experience always start with the very first interaction. By making a great impression and continuing to nurture the relationship, you can turn a client into a friend and advocate for your business, which will help you scale your company sustainably.
Securities and advisory services offered only by duly registered individuals through Madison Avenue Securities, LLC. (MAS), Member FINRA & SIPC, and a registered investment advisor. Dynamic Wealth Strategies and MAS are not affiliated entities.
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