You have one week to drive deeper client engagement. Go.
Ok, it doesn’t really happen this way, but perhaps this scenario is a little closer to reality. You wake up every morning committed to doing the right things for the business and your clients. You spend most of your waking hours reacting to what is happening, leaving very little time to think strategically about the future of the business and if or how client engagement is changing. And, when you do, finally, carve out that precious hour in your calendar to ‘work on the business’ your head starts to spin because you are the victim of idea overload – an insidious and unintended consequence of attending too many conferences.
So where do you start?
Not long ago I took this challenge on and wrote a report called “The Habits of Uncommonly Successful Advisors: A 7-Day Plan to Ignite Deeper Client Engagement.” It was all about the core activities that will have an enduring impact on your client relationships and your business.
What About a 7-Week Plan?
What if, instead of a 7-day plan, you give yourself a break and make this a 7-week plan? If you can take action on one of the steps (below) each week for the next seven weeks, something magical will happen. Not only will you stop berating yourself for not taking the time to work on your business, but you’ll take your relationships to a new level. I promise.
Week 1: Examine Your Business Through the Eyes of the Client
In week one, commit to understanding how your clients perceive the value you provide and check your assumptions at the door.
Action 1: The Client “Walk Through”
Take a walk through your business (literally) as if you were your client, noticing everything from the information you receive in advance, to parking your car to arriving at the office. What was your impression, how were you greeted and what did you see as you walked through the office? What happens prior to, during and after the meeting? Ask yourself two simple questions at every step. How does this make me feel? Are there opportunities to engage with the client in a different or more meaningful way?
Action 2. Client Interviews
Contact two to three clients and invite them to lunch in the next 30 days. During that lunch ask questions that will get them talking about the value you provide, in their words.
Here are some questions to consider:
- If someone asked you to describe how we had helped you, what would you say?
- How do you think the work we have done together will impact your financial future? What will be different?
Week 2: Benchmark Your Client Experience to ‘Great’
In week two, commit to thinking outside your own four walls – and this industry – to understand what great looks like. Some of the most successful advisors I talk to are looking to the great service organizations around the world (think Ritz Carlton, Zappos or Disney). They are redefining the benchmark for the experience they want to deliver.
Action 1: Answer an important question
What is the single greatest service experience you have ever had?
Once you have that in mind, dissect that experience to understand what made it great. If you have a team, this is an ideal team exercise, otherwise consider inviting a colleague to participate. Once you have identified the experience, go deep to understand why it stands out.
Consider the following questions:
- Why did you think of that experience?
- How did it make you feel?
- How did you hear about the firm?
- What happened when you contacted them the first time?
- What happened during the process of using the product/service?
- What happened after (or on an on-going basis)?
- What words would you use to describe this firm?
- What were the primary touch points?
Action 2. Invite your clients to help you define great
Identify two to three clients with whom you are meeting in the next 30 days and add one item to their agendas. As part of the meeting ask them the same question you asked yourself and/or your team in the step above. The only caveat is that the client cannot identify you as the ‘single greatest service experience’; they can identify any other organization, big or small. Once they have that organization in mind ask a similar set of questions and listen carefully to the words they use to describe the experience. Are they the same things you thought of when you examined your one best experience?
For more, check here.
Week 3: Focus on the Client Journey
In week 3 commit to examining your client experience – or client journey – from every angle. When we think about the components of an engaging client experience it’s tempting to focus on what happens when you are face-to-face with your clients but there is so much more.
Action 1: Take a 360° view of your client journey
Consider and evaluate your performance across the entire client journey, thinking about all forms of communication. Think about the distinct phases of the client experience (which starts as a prospect). For each one, what is the client experience today? More importantly, how would what you learned from the steps above influence the experience at each step?
- Initial contact
- Development of plan
- Review meetings
Further, think about the experience via multiple touch-points. For example what is the experience of the prospect if they call you, go to your website, drive by your office, google you or check out your social media activity?
Week 4: Standardize Your Critical Client Interactions
In week four, commit to improving the consistency with which you deliver on your client experience. We could list so many processes that require attention, but I suggest you start with the client review and consider how you can create deeper engagement.
Action 1: Define – or refine – your client review meetings
This action draws on some critical research that highlights that the most Engaged clients (those who are most satisfied and provide all of the referrals) are more likely to be actively involved in setting the agenda for review meetings. The extent to which you can involve clients, thereby focusing your reviews on the issues that matter most to them, will drive deeper engagement.
When it comes to client reviews, co-creation results from including a client in agenda-setting and the use of technology during review meetings to make the process more engaging.
For examples on how to improve the client review process check here.
Week 5: Make Someone Accountable for the Client Experience
In week five commit to creating accountability and ensure that client engagement is not only everyone’s responsibility but that someone is actually accountable.
Action 1: Create a “client delight budget”
Establish a budget that can be accessed by every team member to delight clients in whatever way they see fit. It creates an expectation of delight and makes it possible to do the small things, from a gift before a big trip to a card to say thank you for being a client. Demand that the budget be spent.
Action 2. Put someone in charge of client experience.
Establish a new role or committee, if one does not exist, that puts someone in charge of thinking about the client experience. That person may simply drive the team discussions or may have a broader role in defining and executing on the client experience, but ensure someone is thinking about this as a significant part of their role.
Week 6: Measure Performance
In week six, commit to measuring performance. I’ve talked (ad nauseam) about the connection between client engagement and client feedback – but that’s only because it’s true.
Action 1: Gather Informal feedback
While limited in terms of effectiveness, informal feedback will demonstrate to clients that you care. You might ask a simple question at the end of each review such as the following. Is there one area where you think we could do a little better in meeting your needs?
Action 2: Consider a formal survey
By gathering feedback every 18-24 months you will create a clear benchmark for service, demonstrate commitment and uncover service and revenue opportunities.
Action 3: Look at setting up an advisory board
Gather a group of 8-10 clients together quarterly and go deeper on issues such as your offer, service or team structure. Stephen Wershing is a great resource on this one.
Week 7: Refresh and Recharge
In week seven remember that you need to find a way to stay sharp, improve and energize yourself. Creating and sustaining deeply engaged client relationships requires a herculean effort and commitment. Great advisors not only invest time and money in making it happen but ensure they are always on the cutting edge, listening and learning from experts and peers within the industry and beyond.
Action 1: Book time to learn
Book some time for yourself to explore and learn. You might tackle one of the books that is waiting, explore influencers on social media or dig into some TED talks. Your entire goal is to feed your mind and listen carefully for the ideas and trends that will impact how you engage your clients in future.
It’s as easy as that. Ok, ok, no one said it would be easy, but it can be done.
Thanks for stopping by