Your clients have high expectations of you and your team. The challenge is delivering on a service model that is efficient for all clients while personalizing and enhancing the experience for your top clients.
Many firms execute the basics – they communicate their value in relatable terms, segment their clientele, incorporate technology to manage client contact and send cards or gifts on special occasions. The real question is how do you personalize the overall client experience, particularly for top clients? Personalizing your client experience is an entirely different set of skills and requires more customization in the process.
Service Model Analysis
Before attempting to personalize your top client experience, you need to ensure your team has the right attitude and engagement to deliver on enhanced service models. You may feel things are going well from your point of view, but your team may feel burdened due to capacity issues to get the basics done.
Take a look at the time being spent with all clients. Is your team giving a platinum service model to smaller clients that should be reserved for top clients? You may have to step back and design a modular service model that is appropriate for smaller clients and frees up time to personalize the experience for top clients.
Is your team not fully embracing automation or workflows? Are they following agreed upon systems? If your team is spending too much time on manual tasks, you may need to focus on training and accountability.
Once you have addressed any capacity issues that can be lessened with redefined service models, training or technology, you need to ensure that your team has a responsive attitude.
If top clients send in a request by phone or email, those requests need to be responded to within 2 to 4 hours if at all possible. That does not mean solve the problem in that timeframe, but at least let the client know you received their request. This type of dedication is not always a capacity issue, it is an attitude and a sense of urgency by all parties.
What is your team’s etiquette on the phone or when clients visit the office? Some staff members can be overly talkative or over-share as a means of building relationships with clients.
Take the time to walk through your office and hear how your staff is communicating with clients over the phone. Are they saying things such as, “I’m not sure where Tim is today, I haven’t seen him all day, he never tells me anything.” The proper response would be, “Tim is with a client right now, or at an educational meeting, may I offer you his voicemail or is there something I could handle for you?”
If a client asks a staff member how they’ve been and they say, “oh, you know, just another day. Just trying to keep up with everything. Never enough hours in the day. You know how Tim can be.” The appropriate response should be “wonderful, thank you, and how are you?”
If your staff uses slang in their emails, that could send the wrong message about your overall professionalism.
Taking Cultivation to the Next Level
Once you have your team trained and basic service models realigned, you can begin personalizing the client experience. To take top client cultivation to the next level, you need to learn more about your clients’ feedback, preferences, and interests.
You want to keep an ear open to the little tidbits they tell you about themselves and capture those notes in your database (CRM). In doing so, you can truly build a distinct cultivation plan. You can deepen your client relationships and serve them at a higher level.
1. Client Interviews, Feedback, and Suggested Improvements
Ask your top clients during your next review meeting – or even better have a separate meeting – to talk about how to elevate their overall experience. Ask them specific things you can do to improve or make things more comfortable for them. If they say, “everything is fine,” probe them a bit more.
Tell them you and your team are working to enhance the experience for top clients like them and would appreciate their honesty on anything that would make a difference – even if it is something small. Let them know everyone on your team is working together on this.
Ask them if they fully understand their paper or electronic statements. Are there additional areas in their financial plan that could be explained more deeply for them? Do they need extra time with your team to understand your available technology better?
2. Client Preferences
Ask your top clients if they prefer communication by phone, email or texting (if your company allows it)?
Do they prefer Skype meetings?
How frequently would they like communication or meetings to occur?
How technology savvy are they?
Is there a family member or power-of-attorney they would like to receive duplicate copies of statements?
3. Cultivation Ideas
In addition to your client’s communication preferences, ask them additional questions to get to know them on a more personal level. The answers to the following questions can help you develop future appreciation strategies, such as:
Is your client a veteran? (Send them a card on Veteran’s Day or host a Veteran’s Day breakfast)
Do they have pets? (Have a box of dog or cat treats when they come to your office that they can take home)
What are their special interests? (You could send them articles on these topics)
What are their favorite hobbies when they have spare time? (These can be client appreciation ideas)
What social events would they clear their schedule for? (More client appreciation ideas)
What educational topics would they clear their schedule for? (Articles, seminars or blog ideas)
What is their favorite beverage? How do they take their coffee, tea?
Capturing these preferences and taking action on them during the onboarding process can help you better personalize the client experience. If you have never asked your existing clients these questions, you may need to revisit these conversations during ongoing review meetings. This will allow you to build content for proactive cultivation, client appreciation, or have their favorite beverage available when they come to your office.
Imagine if some of your small business clients would prefer to have a conference call as opposed to in-person meetings. Perhaps your clients would like more frequent or less frequent meetings.
Armed with this knowledge, you can personalize the relationship and the experience. If you uncover their hobbies or special interests this could drive your client appreciation strategy.
The Real Benefit
You may not be able to go over and above for all of your clients, but you can certainly focus on more personalized experiences for your top clients. You need to deliver on the standard services you promised all clients, but you can exceed the expectations of your top clients by getting to know them on a deeper level.
The real benefit is cultivating more significant client relationships and personalizing strategies for client loyalty and retention.
Photo credit: Campaign Creators: https://www.campaigncreators.com.