Developing client engagement: Nine touch points to consider
Written by Phil Bray on 24/01/19
In our first blog of 2019, we discussed how newsletters can be used for developing client engagement.
We’d probably all agree that the most important touch points are the face-to-face interactions you have with clients. However, as the warm glow of this interaction fades, it’s important to maintain regular contact with your clients. That got us thinking; how else could you touch clients during the next 12 months?
There are several key benefits:
- It shows you care, deepens the relationship and will help client retention
- It should help increase the likelihood of them referring you to friends, family and work colleagues
- It allows you to share knowledge and add value
- It shows you are on the ball, reacting (where necessary) to events
So, what are your options?
We really don’t want us to stray into ‘teaching grandma to suck eggs’ territory and many of these ideas won’t be new. However, many come under the heading of “we used to do that, why did we stop?” or “that’s a good idea, why don’t we do that?”
Anyway, we hope you find these ideas useful and they provide you with the motivation to review your client engagement proposition.
As we said a couple of weeks ago, newsletters are ideal for sharing knowledge and adding value. However, they must be interesting, relevant and consistent, both in their quality and the frequency that they are sent.
In our view, too many advisers and planners look down on newsletters, believing common myths and misconceptions, rather than taking an evidence-led approach. (Not convinced? Take a look at our previous blog here.)
2. Valuation reports and investment updates
Some clients will want them, some won’t. For others, receiving regular valuations and investment updates is downright dangerous.
You know your clients better than anyone else, so taking a bespoke approach and sending periodic valuations only to those who value them is probably the most sensible approach. Of course, that comes back to careful client segmentation. Something we will hear more of in 2019.
3. One-off communications
The surveys we run for financial planners show that the thing clients value, above all else, is having someone to turn to.
There are certain times when they will look to you for reassurance, affirmation and guidance. For some, the current period of market volatility is a perfect example.
As a planner, you won’t be worried about the current volatility. But that doesn’t mean that some of your clients won’t be concerned. Unless your clients are fantastically well trained and will ignore volatility, we recommend segmenting them and communicating appropriately to their likely level of concern.
4. Random acts of kindness
We all love receiving an unexpected and carefully thought through gift. Random acts of kindness are a great way to show you are listening and develop deeper relationships.
You’ve given your client confidence that they won’t run out of money if they book that holiday to Australia; send them a travel guide. Thanks to your advice, your client can retire earlier than they’d planned; send a ‘happy retirement’ card and gift; ideally something related to their hobbies.
Send these to your client’s place of work. Not only is it more practical (who knows where it’ll end up if it’s delivered and your client isn’t home) it might get noticed by colleagues and start a discussion which could lead to a referral.
5. “I was thinking of you…” messages
Okay, so this isn’t as weird as it sounds.
Sam Sloma of Engage gave a great reminder of this in his talk at last year’s Humans Under Management*. At different times and with different triggers clients will randomly pop into your head. Use that as a cue to get in touch with a simple; “How are things?” message. They’ll welcome the fact you are thinking of them and you never know where the conversation might lead.
6. Client events
Many of the firms we work with run regular client events. Some are social in nature, others educational.
There’s no getting away from the fact that client events take some organising and can be expensive. However, they can be a great way to engage with clients away from the office environment. If you ask them to bring a guest, they can also be an effective way of getting introduced to potential new clients.
7. Social media
A proportion (possibly more than you think) of your clients will be on social media.
Assuming you’re happy for them to see your posts, social media can provide the perfect way of informally engaging with clients. It starts by understanding which channels they use and connecting with them. Hopefully, over time, they will share the content you post (for example, the blogs you include in newsletters) with their connections, helping it reach a wider audience.
The private messaging function of each social media channel is also useful for sending “I was thinking of you…” messages.
8. “I saw this and thought of you”
An extension of point five, this touch point simply involves sending interesting and relevant content (crucially not your own) to clients.
You discussed your client’s fascination with Bitcoin at your last meeting; you might share this from the Guardian last week. Your client is a doctor and concerned about the Lifetime Allowance; you might send them this from Money Observer.
Again, these simple touches show you are always thinking about your clients.
9. Birthdays and Christmas
Every year we get a flurry of messages from financial planners asking whether they should send Christmas cards to clients. Frankly, you know your clients better than we do; if you think they will value Christmas cards, then why not send them.
However, what we do know is that the more personal they are, the better; write the cards yourself, adding personalised messages. Yes, it’ll take time. However, it’ll set your card apart from those corporate cards with printed signatures of the entire team and a printed address label.
Marking birthdays might also be welcomed by clients. A card or simple gift, especially for the ‘significant’ birthdays, will go a long way. Don’t forget their children too; a card and a present will help to start a relationship (no matter how young they are) with the people who will one day inherit your client’s wealth.
Good habits and organisation
Hopefully, we’ve given you some useful reminders on the most effective ways to regularly touch clients.
Some are simple, cheap and reactive, but need you to build good habits. For example, remembering to engage on social media, send useful articles you’ve seen or send “I was thinking of you” messages.
Others, such as newsletters, birthdays and events, will take planning and scheduling. If you have a support team, they can probably help with this. If not, you’ll need to decide what you are consistently able to deliver.
Finally, our list isn’t definitive. If you have other ideas of touch points please add them to the comments below or start a conversation on Twitter. You can find me by clicking here.
*It was fantastic by the way, do book for 2019, here’s the link to find out more.