What Are You Doing to Add Value for, and Retain Your Existing Clients?
Strong Client Relationships are The Key to Long-Term Success
New client acquisition isn't the end of the process. Maintaining strong client relationships is what translates into long-term success.
“Do what you did at the beginning of a relationship and there won’t be an end.” —Tony Robbins
Many client relationships revolve around the state of the client's financial circumstances and life goals. Being aware of your clients' circumstances is critical so that you know how to most effectively meet their needs, and staying up to date with that information is your responsibility. Clients should feel comfortable turning to you for guidance and have confidence that they are well taken care of, rather than feeling like they need to look elsewhere if no relationship exists.
Ideally, strong client relationships should begin before they even become a client (see our blog post, How to Establish Relatability: A Marketing Secret Everyone Should Know). Once a prospect becomes a client and things are running smoothly it can be easy to become complacent and let the relationship run on autopilot—letting accounts run themselves. Account statements, birthday cards, and newsletters are all sent out without you ever having to think about it.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a professional relationship where you just felt like a number rather than a person? That the only time you mattered to your representative was when you owed them money? Don’t let your only personal touches be when a credit card is about to expire, or when signatures are needed. Your clients need to feel heard and validated as an individual.
"People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care." —Theodore Roosevelt
Strong Relationships Can Weather a Crisis
A prime example of the necessity of strong client relationships is our current situation amid the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic. Some people’s lives have been turned upside down due to job loss and bankruptcy, while others may be financially unfazed, and some even involved in professions that have seen an increase in prosperity (and so many other scenarios in between).
COVID-19 is Affecting Financial Portfolios, Raising Life Insurance Concerns, and Mortgage Uncertainty.
You are the stabilizing influence of reassurance in the storm.
Clients need you when times are difficult and strained, but they don’t necessarily need you when times are smooth-sailing. The good times are for cultivating strong foundational client relationships, making those relationships even more stable during challenging times. Your sincere efforts to develop a strong relationship over time will make communication easy. You'll be the one they want to turn to time and time again.
Even if a client’s current income hasn’t changed, the global economy is affecting financial portfolios, possibly affecting when your client is planning to retire. Some individuals may want to explore their life insurance options, be updated on how current policies are performing for them, and if they can leverage the cash value to offset financial strain. For homeowners, now may be the right time to refinance or explore a home equity line of credit. Long story short, these are difficult times and the future is uncertain.
Concerns of uncertainty can lead someone to find a new advisor or agent if they feel their needs aren't being met adequately. Your client relationships need to already be strong before a crisis hits so you know how to help them navigate through important decisions. Your care and concern during times of crisis can even strengthen client relationships, catalyzing future loyalty.
Be a role model in your communication. Portraying your confidence and certainty with decisions that affect the future will help to quell concerns that clients may have.
Tips to Strengthen Client Relationships
So how do you get there? Like any other relationship, client relationships require effort through actions taken over time. It's the personal touches that stand out, not the automated and mandatory forms of communication.
1. Client Reviews
Conducting quarterly client reviews is an excellent way to stay on top of how your clients are doing. These regular reviews set a clear path for future goals and give the client something to count on from you.
Be A Good Listener
In addition to offering information on account/policy performance, ask open-ended questions to allow the client an opportunity to help you learn what is going on in their world. Ask questions using the words "tell" and "describe." Avoid simple yes or no questions that do not open the door for two-way dialogue.
Once this dialogue is open, be open to feedback from your clients to know what you can do better for them, then act on the feedback. Take detailed notes with any interaction, and track them in your CRM for future reference.
2. Phone Calls
Avoid allowing impersonal forms of communication from becoming your only form of communication.
Rather than simply sending automatic cards or emails for client birthdays, consider making personal phone calls. You may be surprised by how much the extra effort means to someone.
Little kindnesses and courtesies are so important. In relationships, the little things are the big things.—Stephen R. Covey
3. Social Media
As you deem appropriate, follow/friend clients on social media so you can have a glimpse into what is going on in their world. You may even be made aware of times when you can lend a helping hand (help a client's child move, bring over a meal when someone is sick, etc.).
4. Add Value Beyond Your Services
You are an expert in your field, and clients choose to do business with you because of your expertise. Offer factual clarity through simple information relevant to their situation that is easy to understand. Sending industry-specific articles related to the services you offer shows that your value isn't limited to the services being paid for.
If you come across information related to your clients' career or hobbies, send it their way with a message saying, "I saw this and thought of you!" With this type of communication, there is no need to try and sell products and services, the goal is to show you care.
"Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans." —Ken Blanchard
5. Show Gratitude
Your clients are the reason you're in business—look for ways to give back to them. Client appreciation events (such as dinners, seminars, cocktail hours, etc.) can create a culture of gratitude. Small, meaningful touches of communication that show your gratitude could be a handwritten note, a small gift, or supporting your clients' professional efforts.
However you choose to show gratitude, be sure it is carried out thoughtfully and with sincerity.
6. Lead With Your Heart
Many business decisions are based in logic, but not every situation's answer is black and white. Your calm compassion, concern, empathy, and courage will drive sincere human connections.
Try to see things from the perspective of your clients, and don't be afraid to follow gut feelings.
Once you've onboarded a new client, that's just the beginning. Small, consistent efforts are what strengthen client relationships, leading to confidence and long-term success—especially in times of crisis. Start implementing a few of these tips today!
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