Four Guaranteed Ways to Improve Your Client Experience
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Wine is the same in a red Solo cup as in a Baccarat crystal wine glass – but the experience is so much different.
As a financial advisor, don’t pass out red Solo cups to whoever shows up at your office.
Instead, you want an exclusive, five-star client experience where only a few choice prospects and clients are invited to imbibe using the finest crystal.
How do you provide a top-notch service such as this?
It's more straightforward than you may realize.
Let's break down four guaranteed approaches you can implement to improve your client experience and increase your prospect conversions by creating exclusivity, setting client expectations from the beginning, sticking to your process of success, and practicing your interactions.
1. Create a client experience of exclusivity
Too many advisors think they have to be readily available every time a client calls or their clients will leave, and they'll end up living in a van down by the river.
That's not true – kick this bit of head trash to the curb.
Your clients are already conditioned to wait for professional services. After all, if your prospects make appointments six months in advance to see their dentist, they can wait a few weeks or several months to see you.
When a prospect calls to ask for an appointment and you offer a meeting for the next day, it tells your prospect that you're either not that busy, desperate, or both.
You force your prospects to ask if you're the best professional to help them when you wreak of desperation.
And to make matters worse, you shoot yourself in the foot every time you answer a client call only to tell them to wait to see you. They have you on the line right now – why should they wait?
To avoid this issue, when I was starting my career, I had my wife call and schedule meetings with prospects and clients.
I could not be the one taking those calls; if I was, I would make exceptions for each one and mess up my entire schedule. It was too easy for my passion for helping to come off as desperation when I handled the appointment calendar.
Now, I have my team handle client calls – I don't touch the phone. If you're still answering your phone, this task must be at the top of your delegation list.
2. Set client expectations from the get-go
If you need the extra affirmation, here it is:
Tell clients (and prospects) that they need to wait x number of months to meet with you.
They won't leave you for it – so long as you set that expectation from the beginning of your relationship.
When transitioning a prospect to becoming a client, include your practice's client communication policy as part of your onboarding process.
Your one-page communication policy needs to have three main things:
- Emergency contact information so your future client can call you during an emergency. Instruct them to call and tell whoever picks up that they need to speak to you, and they'll get you the same day.
- Your firm's email address for less pressing issues can handle waiting a day or two for your team.
- Information about scheduling appointments as these will be your clients' primary communication method with you. Tell them these meetings will be scheduled twice a year and give info about Surge cycles and why you do it.
When you set expectations like this from the get-go, your clients won't be shocked when they have to book a meeting with you months in advance. In fact, they'll be expecting it.
3. Don't make exceptions to your process of success
Clients at my firm spend the first year of our relationship going through my onboarding process. I have at least one meeting for each stage of my process of success which includes:
- Estate planning
- Risk management
- Retirement income
- Tax planning
During the first year of our relationship, I am creating and implementing their new financial plan so that they'll be on track for retirement. In each meeting, I'm setting expectations about what's going to happen in the next twelve months, regardless of when we meet next.
When I get pushback for how long this process takes, I always tell my client:
Look, I've rushed people's financial plans before and did them a disservice. We need to go through many things to implement it correctly, and I'm not going to rush your retirement. It's essential to stick to our process of success.
We're going to do this in our process of success. And that's okay if it doesn't work for you.
There are plenty of advisors who'll rush this thing – and that's not me. We will be working together for most likely the rest of your life. I don't want to rush this step.
If the client decides they want a hasty financial plan, I'll direct them to an advisor who'll better suit their needs, and we'll part as friends.
What I won't do is compromise my entire process for one person. I recognize this person isn't a good fit, and I move on.
Remember the big picture of your business when rejection happens – don't hyper-focus on the possible or even occasional rejection.
Spend your energy serving clients who pay you, not on prospects who didn't commit.
4. Practice, practice, practice
When I meet with other advisors, even industry-leading ones, I can tell who's practiced their processes and who hasn't.
Practice going through your meetings, and practice your client interactions in front of a mirror.
Record yourself – as painful as that may be – because you've got to get to the point you can go through your value adds with the same conviction you use when saying your name.
And for the love of Pete – Do not practice in front of a client!
To present yourself as a professional with all the answers, you can’t half-ass your client interactions or get caught like a deer in the headlights.
You must practice regularly.
Create a one-page client communication policy if you haven’t already. Remember to practice it with your team before you give it to clients.
Are there any wrinkles in your client experience that need ironing out that weren’t on this list?
Mark your calendar for our TPR Nation Power Session on client onboarding processes and setting the right expectations. The Power Session will be on Wednesday, October 12, 2022, at 9 AM PST.
Micah Shilanski, CFP®, is a financial planner who achieves the impossible.” Micah is recognized as a leader in the concept of lifestyle design for financial planners and has spoken at conferences across the country. Micah is an advisor with Shilanski and Associates, a founder of Plan Your Federal Retirement, and a co-founder of The Perfect RIA.