If you knew that a change was permanent would you look at it differently?
When a change is temporary, our primary focus is on making the best of the situation until we can revert back to normal. When we see a change as permanent, we get creative about how to improve and enhance the process.
This is week two of a series that examines how the client experience will need to evolve, drawing on our latest report ‘Your Comeback Plan’. Last week we looked at the frequency of contact and this week I’ll tackle the form of contact.
A Permanent Shift or a Temporary Blip?
So here’s the question. Are online client meetings a temporary – or a permanent – shift?
I’d argue that they represent a permanent shift that we’ve been treating as a temporary shift. And that might be a problem. Stated bluntly, if we’re meeting with clients virtually for another year, then getting by with a mediocre process isn’t good enough.
As my team and I help advisors gather direct input from their clients, the trend seems clear. While some clients are waiting for the day they can get back into your office, a large proportion of clients say this “online thing” is working quite well, thank you very much.
And if that’s the case, then the advisors who ask a different set of questions will be ahead of the game.
What are those questions, you ask? Here’s a start:
- What can I do to ensure that I can connect deeply with clients even when the meeting is virtual?
- Are there tools I can use to make virtual meetings more compelling or engaging?
- Do I need to develop any skills to help me communicate more effectively, virtually?
- Do we need new processes in place to book or hold virtual meetings?
- Am I making virtual meetings not only easy, but enjoyable for my clients?
Taking Virtual to the Next Level
Let’s look at a few things that we need to consider to enhance virtual meetings.
- Crafting the conversation
The one thing that will most enhance a virtual meeting is the focus of the conversation (what you actually discuss). That, of course, is no different when you are meeting face to face. The only difference is that your clients are facing new challenges, new concerns and, sometimes, new goals and aspirations. Advisors who implement a process to co-create the agenda, drawing on what is on the minds of clients right now, will engage more deeply. Let’s face it, an engaging conversation will mask a host of technological shortcomings.
- Making a connection
More than a few advisors have shared that they don’t feel they can connect at the same level during a virtual meeting. With respect, I beg to differ. The key, of course, is to look straight at the camera, rather than the screen. That’s the virtual equivalent of looking someone in the eye and it’s a skill we need to develop and practice in this new environment. There are others, but that one thing will make a significant difference.
- Driving engagement
Figuring out Zoom or Microsoft Teams or Webex is only the first step. The next level will involve finding new and creative ways to engage, from simple screen sharing, to virtual whiteboards, to collaboration tools or mind mapping software. Going forward, I believe we need to look at ways to make our online meetings visually engaging.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but it’s a start to answering this important question. If you knew that virtual meetings were going to be a big part of your communications plan, how would you think about making it the best possible experience?
And for what it’s worth: I don’t think the dogs, children, Amazon delivery guy or the neighbor’s leaf blower are the biggest challenges. They are part of life and there is something powerful about getting to know one another on this level. I have stepped into the homes and lives of more clients and partners than ever before. And rather than being a distraction, it has created deeper understanding and engagement.
What is Your Comeback Plan?
You can assess your own client experience and where you may need to evolve by clicking on the following link, accessing our free ‘Client Comeback Plan’ and taking the assessment. We’ll send you a personalized report and ‘readiness score’ to help you take action.
Thanks for stopping by.