When you’ve got a busy schedule full of client appointments, team meetings, and other work responsibilities, it can be tempting to just “get down to business” when sitting down with a client. But is this really the most beneficial tactic for your business?
Clients tend to value a human-centered approach to business, rather than one that is focused just on making money.
What is customer experience, and why does it matter?
Customer experience is a relatively new aspect of running a business. Success is not just about who has the lowest prices or the best quality goods and services – in growing numbers, consumers are placing more focus on having good interactions with a brand. How they feel about a brand and its representatives matters more than ever before.
What is it about your favorite brands and businesses, especially small or local businesses, that makes them your favorite place to eat, shop, or work? It probably has a little something to do with their product or service offerings, but what about the service itself? Are the employees friendly? Do they remember facts about your life, like your spouse’s name or what sport your child plays? Connections like this are the reason people make long-term bonds with hair stylists, bartenders, personal trainers. Connection is what turns a one-time client or customer into a “regular.”
Think about it: When given the option between shopping at a store where the employees ignore you, don’t provide assistance, and don’t respond to your concerns or issues, and a store where the employees give you a warm welcome, answer your questions, and take a genuine interest in your needs, which one would you rather frequent?
The point is, consumers crave connection. We like being recognized as human beings, and studies show that it pays off when businesses invest in fostering relationships with their customers.
Building Client Relationships in Your Practice
As a financial advisor or agent, you have access to some of the most sensitive and private details of your clients’ lives. Your clients want and need to feel comfortable being honest with you. Are you creating an environment where they can be open about their spending habits and poor financial decisions?
It’s not hard to help your clients feel more comfortable sharing their finances with you – after all, it’s your job to listen and handle the money! The most important thing is being friendly and authentic. Take a genuine interest in their lives, and not just where it concerns their portfolio or bank accounts. Take the time to learn about them, their family, their career, their goals and aspirations. How has money affected their lives, positively or negatively? Make an effort to get to know them as you would any other person outside of the office.
Building relationships is about more than small talk, though; it’s important that you are there for your clients during the big moments of their lives too, especially when they are facing significant life changes, like retirement, kids graduating from school, becoming empty nesters, or the death of a parent or spouse. How you respond to and help them through these life stages will have a big impact on your relationship and their impression of you.
Nurture Your Client Relationships
Once the foundation is there, you can’t neglect it – relationships take work! It doesn’t take much effort to remember a birthday or anniversary and send a quick message or make a phone call, and your clients will remember this personal touch long after you do.
You can also nurture your client relationships by giving clients the opportunity to get to know you outside of a business setting. By holding client events, you’re showing your clients that they are more to you than their money. Don’t just tell them that you appreciate them and their business; show them!
When it comes to tangible representations of your appreciation, be sure to reference your state’s gifting laws or speak with your compliance professional before making any purchases. Keep in mind that these limitations may change over time.
Be More Than a Financial Advisor
Appreciated clients are happy clients, and happy clients are more likely to tell their friends about their experiences with you. When you demonstrate yourself as a financial advisor that cares about more than your clients’ money, people will be more inclined to work with you because they will see you as a whole person, not just a business.
When you form relationships with your clients, the benefits to your business are immeasurable, and you might even find that it makes your work more enjoyable. When you attach a face and a story to a case, the work becomes more meaningful.