When I go into an advisor’s office to meet with them about their operations, we discuss three main topics: people, process, and technology. I want to know about their service model so that I can get an idea of what it’s like to be one of their clients in different stages of their process.
As independent business owners, most advisors are very familiar with prospecting and the view from their side of the desk as it relates to meeting with clients, understanding their risk and fees, and translating those facts into a retirement plan. Most tell me that they haven’t ever viewed their practice through their clients’ eyes, experiencing their processes as a client would.
Here are five suggestions from top advisors in our industry on how you can build your service model using the “Be a Client for a Day” philosophy. One of our top advisors, Nolan Baker, says, “You must automate the expected so that you can deliver on the unexpected.”
- Communicate effectively: Map out the new client and existing client processes in your office and make a note of every opportunity that comes up where you or someone on your team would interact with a client. Ask yourself, “Is there a way to communicate with the client at each of these touchpoints in a way that would deepen their relationship with us?” Examples of communication points include letters, shock and awe packages, phone calls, emails, and newsletters.
- Connect with your clients: Different segments of clients should have different frequencies of communication and types of connection. Your AAA client (Assets, Attitude, Advocate) should have the greatest opportunity in your communication and events matrix. They should get personal and specific attention. Not only should they be invited to all your events, but you should also have the main advisor make a “How Are You?” call to these clients every quarter.
- Experience an appointment: Look at your office with fresh eyes. Walk in like a new client, look around, sit in your waiting area, take that walk back to the conference room, and then go to the restroom. How does it feel, and does it align with what you are trying to create? Here are several great “wow” ideas to take your client experience to the next level: serving fresh-baked cookies or a snack mix in the conference room; offering the client a beverage when they walk in; printing the client’s name on a “Welcome” board in your waiting area, or displaying it on a flat-screen TV; presenting a warm, friendly greeting accompanied by a smile as they enter; and keeping the office space and restroom spotless.
- Plan client events: Your client events should be free of anything that would distract the client from their experience. You want to make sure that all the details are well thought out ahead of time so that you can put your emphasis and focus on your clients as they arrive. Clients should be invited to events based on their segment. One advisor suggests creating a draft of your event calendar a year in advance and then choosing which segments of clients are invited to each. You can offer monthly webinars, open houses, shred events, and lunch and learns for all your clients, but your appreciation dinners and special events should be reserved for your AAA, AA, and A clients.
- Be an invested client: When you think of the business flow that each client experiences as they come on board with your office, is it smooth? Does everything in your office function in a way that builds trust? Do you have someone in your office who helps you complete paperwork? The closing appointment may be a great time to introduce your client to that person so that they are familiar with the process and the person to reach out to with questions. It’s never too late to map out your process on paper and then refine it from there.
It’s through exercises like this one that we get the opportunity to look at our practice as our client sees it, with one exception: You get to change the game. If reading this article has brought to light areas of your practice that need attention or improvement, I encourage you to get your team together and talk through solutions. When meeting with teams, I find that the answer is always in the room. It just takes specific time planned to brainstorm on the client experience to motivate everyone and facilitate feedback as a team. Your team will appreciate being included, and you and your clients will reap the benefits.