The success of a financial services firm often rests primarily on existing clients who refer friends and family. Especially in an uncertain economy, obtaining those referrals depends on retaining clients and ensuring they are happy with the services they are receiving.
The following tips from three industry experts will help advisors build and maintain long-standing client relationships that enhance their customer retention strategies—in good times and in bad.
According to Brian Haney, founder and CEO of The Haney Company, customer care is a critical part of any practitioner’s success, and this is always magnified during times of uncertainty. “One of the best ways our firm has found success when it comes to approaching caring for our clients, it all flows through the filter of experience,” he said.
‘Exceptional customer experience’
“We simply ask ourselves, ‘How can we create an exceptional customer experience?’ It’s not enough just to do the functional things required of us; we want each client to feel, ‘I’m so glad I’m working with The Haney Company. This has been an excellent experience.’
“This means that we communicate early and often, but in a manner that is meaningful to our clients. We do not spam or send blanket communications; we try to ensure our communications are as personal as possible and as strategic as possible.”
The other element of Haney’s process is how his organization shows up when something goes wrong.
“Life can take crazy turns and mistakes can happen,” he said. “It’s as important to us to handle the bad things as well as we do the good ones. This involves taking ownership, being transparent, being diligent in fixing what may be wrong, and following all the way through to ensure that the client feels comfortable and cared for.”
The last element of the firm’s client retention process is the high emphasis it places on understanding – understanding its clients on a values level/personal level. As he said, “we want to take significant personal care, not just professional care, and work hard to be proactive and empathetic. Ultimately, the hyper focus on employee experience is what we want our brand value proposition to be known for.”
The retention of clients is a long-standing best practice for any business, Haney pointed out. It is particularly essential for financial advisors during good economic times and it is critically important during uncertain economic times.
Communication is key for retaining clients
Echoing similar sentiments about communication is Robert Arzt, president of Polaris One and InsuranceCoachU. Advisors are in the unique position of helping their clients achieve their financial goals, and emotions can run high when people are dealing with a challenging economy, he said.
Perhaps the first practice to employ is proactive communication, Arzt added. “Extra communication with your clients about market conditions and updates on their portfolios show that you have their best interest at heart,” he said. Offering clients educational opportunities about historical trends, market volatility and the importance of keeping to their plan, as well as having a long-term strategy, will be welcomed by most, even if they don’t participate, he added.
Arzt said that in his book, “What Every Great Salesperson Knows, A No-nonsense Guide to Sales Success,” he identified 15 Sales Success Factors. Number 10, he said, is: “Has Interpersonal Sensitivity.” “Providing client support, empathy and reassurance shows that you genuinely care about them and their financial well-being,” he said.
Advisors who focus on their customers’ success invest time and energy to understand their entire situation by immersing themselves in their goals, needs and problems. By doing so, he said, they will greatly increase the probability of retaining them.
Increase communication in uncertain times
The need for constant communication was also an important point for Kathleen Owings, principal and financial advisor at Westbilt Financial Group. One of the keys her firm found to retain clients during uncertain economic times was to continue communication with them – and to even increase it, she said.
During the height of the pandemic, Owings said that her firm started creating videos and has continued to send out a video a week to its clients and to post them on social media. “Clients really appreciate that we take time each week to educate them on the market, share our thoughts, or provide some education on various topics,” she said.
Additionally, the firm was proactive about making phone calls to clients during the pandemic to reassure them and see how they were doing. “We were not just calling to talk about the stock market or their accounts, but we had genuine concern for them and their families. Just the simple gesture of a phone call goes a long way,” she added.
Ayo Mseka has more than 30 years of experience reporting on the financial services industry. She formerly served as editor-in-chief of NAIFA’s Advisor Today magazine. Contact her at amseka@INNfeedback.com.
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