If someone had told you years ago that a phone small enough to hold in your hand would have more power than the technology NASA used for the first moon landing, would you have believed them? It’s true—and it’s a testament to the dramatic technological advancements we’ve experienced in the past several decades. The changes have ranged from the minor (Rolodexes are no longer a thing!) to major improvements, including how we interact with clients and prospects. As new solutions emerge, advisors will need to place a greater emphasis on leveraging technology to enhance the client experience.
Create the Best Possible Experience
The client experience has always been a focus for advisors, and now it’s more important than ever. When looking for services, today’s clients are more concerned with their experience than with other factors like brand reputation and pricing. Each time clients or prospects interact with your firm, their experience affects the relationship they have with you. Whether they call your office, attend an event, or receive something in the mail, they are left with a perception that will likely inform their future decisions. When clients are happy, they are more likely to stay with your firm—and refer others to you—thus helping your business grow. So, how are you using technology to enhance that experience?
Make the Most of What You Already Know
Let’s consider one of the most fundamental tools advisors use: the client relationship management (CRM) system. A CRM system allows you to store robust client information that can be leveraged to build stronger and more personal relationships. By capturing important personal data, like the birth of a grandchild or a planned vacation, you create an opportunity to touch base with the client on a matter that isn’t financially related. The outreach becomes personal.
A CRM system can also capture information like board memberships, philanthropic and volunteer work, and a client’s hot-button issues (e.g., market volatility or college planning). Not only can you personalize the client experience with this information, but you can receive a direct return on investment, too. According to “Financial Services Technology 2020 and Beyond: Embracing Disruption” (PwC, 2016), knowing what your clients value will soon be the most important predictor of revenue growth and profitability in financial services. For example, if you know a client supports a particular organization, you can make a donation to it in lieu of a holiday gift. By leveraging what’s important to the client, you create a personalized experience.
The data you save in your CRM system also provides opportunities for additional personal touches. For example, Commonwealth CRM includes a tagging feature, so our advisors can note which clients are concerned about social security, Medicare, and the like. Then, when new information about these issues arises, they can proactively reach out to these clients to keep them informed.
Finally, if you’re looking to make inroads with intentional growth, you can use CRM to search your client database for commonalities. The insight you gather could help you determine the best approach for requesting referrals or introductions or for hosting an intimate client event for your top clients.
Streamline with Integration Points
Commonwealth CRM also helps advisors streamline the process for prospects. The system is integrated with Outlook, as well as with our other internal technology platforms, to create a more seamless experience. Remember, each interaction prospects have with your firm should have the same look and feel. To make this easier, Commonwealth advisors can create a single group of prospects in CRM to capture all potential clients in one place. Then, when they’re ready to reach out to the entire group with a newsletter or other mailing, the process that follows is simple.
If you use Constant Contact or MailChimp, for example, to e-mail clients, tracking the analytics can provide insight into whether an initiative is successful. When you send a newsletter, how many clients open it? How many forward it? Having this type of data available can help you make informed decisions about whether certain activities are adding value for your target audience.
Connect Whenever, Wherever
Client expectations around service have also changed. Mobile technology allows you and your clients to connect wherever you are. As you work with the next generation of clients, you will find they have different wants and needs. They are accustomed to researching options online, and you will likely find they’ll turn to friends and family for recommendations. They also tend to have less of a sense of loyalty to the companies they work with. As the industry prepares for the transition of wealth, you will need to consider options that will make it easier and more efficient for younger clients to do business with your firm.
When you think about it, it’s amazing how much things have changed for service-oriented interactions. For my recent annual eye exam, for example, I didn’t need to talk to my eye doctor’s office ahead of time. Instead, I received an e-mail with her calendar, and I booked the appointment online. The day before I showed up, a text message confirmed the appointment. Advisors have access to similar technology. TimeTrade allows your clients to set up meetings electronically with you. The software gives you the flexibility to establish your availability. So, if you offer late-night appointments or don’t do client meetings on Fridays, you can adjust the calendar accordingly. Some advisors are reluctant to use this technology as it feels less personal, but next-gen clients are going to expect—and prefer—tools like this.
The demographics of the industry are also changing. Whether you’re working with clients who have recently become snowbirds or members of the next generation who have inherited your clients’ wealth, technology makes it easy to conduct meetings from any location. Programs like GoToMeeting and Skype are two of the many technology solutions that can work for just about everyone.
Find Small Ways to Make a Big Difference
There are many other creative ideas out there for leveraging technology to enhance the client experience. Some advisors, for example, offer clients an opportunity to upload important documents, such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care proxies, and so on, to an online vault. With these documents accessible in one place, clients can have true peace of mind.
Taking this concept a bit further, you could also suggest that clients upload family photos to secure their legacy in pictures. Then, advisors can use the family photos to provide a personalized, one-of-a-kind client gift by making a photo album or slideshow to recognize a milestone anniversary or birthday.
Don’t Get Left Behind!
The opportunities to enhance the client experience will continue to expand with every technological advancement. More advisors are using tools like podcasts or creating videos to communicate their value proposition. LinkedIn has been another great resource for everything from prospecting to filling open positions. But as tech trends evolve, you have a big question to address: will you adapt or be left behind?
How are you leveraging technology to enhance the client experience? Do you interact with clients and prospects differently today than you have in the past? Please share your thoughts with us below!