4 Ways to Provide Exceptional Client Service to Become an Elite Advisor
Posted by NICOLE HANDS
At Blueprint Investment Partners, we understand that you, as a financial advisor, are under an immense amount of pressure to provide value to your clients and differentiate yourself from other advisors (including robots!).
It is no easy task.
As we stated in The Elite Advisor Playbook, the first step toward differentiating your firm and being elite is to understand where you can provide the most value: exemplary client service.
The Playbook references a study by Vanguard that found, “As much as 45% of the total value of an advisory relationship perceived by investors is derived from emotional elements, while the remaining 55% is derived from functional aspects of the relationship like portfolio management and financial planning.”
Those advisors who neglect the emotional elements of their relationships risk falling into the realm of mediocrity. Frankly, being a designated hitter in the American League — an inferior brand of baseball, let’s be serious — is the only thing I can think of where doing about 50% of a job is a good thing. For the rest of us, that’s not gonna cut it!
If you’re an advisor who wants to elevate your client service to exceptional — perhaps this was highlighted as an area of opportunity for you in the “Are You An Elite Advisor” quiz — you’re in the right place.
1) Develop a Regular Communication Cadence
It is vital in a post-pandemic world to understand that client communication has taken on a whole new meaning. Even after the Great Recession, many advisors could get by with a monthly phone call, a quarterly check-in, and an occasional round of golf.
That simply does not cut it in 2020.
Today, elite advisors must have an integrated client communication strategy that caters to the contemporary preferences and behaviors of their clients. This requires a cadence of communications, including blog posts, videos, newsletters, and personalized emails.
2) Make Your Website a Point of Pride
One initial objection we often hear in response to our suggestion to provide consistent digital communications is, “My clients don’t look at my website,” or something similar to insinuate that blogging is too “low brow” for the advisor’s clients.
These statements strike us as either completely naive or most likely a defensive argument aimed at protecting the status quo. Either way, it’s flat out wrong and detrimental to a modern, digital-enabled client service strategy.
Your website is how you portray yourself to the world. It plays a huge role in shaping someone’s perception of who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.
It should be the central hub for housing most of your digital communications. As such, you should make sure it’s up-to-date and user friendly. This means including modern visual elements (I beg you, no clipart!), intuitive navigation, and copy that’s written for the average Joe. You want there to be no doubt in a visitor’s mind that you are professional, legitimate, trustworthy, and an expert in wealth management.
While web projects were a daunting prospect in the past, today’s resources have democratized website redesign. Platforms like WordPress and SquareSpace offer relatively “out-of-the-box” options and are considerably easier for non-techie folks to use than in the past. If you need external support, resources like Upwork can help you connect with people skilled in website design, development, and management who can assist on a project basis, rather than having to bring someone onto your team. Taken together, these tools offer a less costly alternative than turning to a full-service marketing agency.
3) Speak ‘With’ Your Audience (Not Your Peers)
Another area where we sometimes hear pushback when we speak to well-intentioned advisors about this topic relates to whether the content being published is as witty or insightful as some other financial advisor they know of or have seen on CNBC.
However, you are not writing for them!
Remember the old blues song 'Little Boxes” by Malvina Reynolds? As the song exclaims, you may assume that all the “doctors and lawyers and business executives” have tastes and preferences that “look the same.” However, in the world of financial advising, what resonates with you and your fellow practitioners isn’t what’s going to be the most impactful for your clients or prospects.
For the same reasons we have found success writing about advisor practice management, advisors generally find success writing about things that are relevant to their audience. There’s nothing novel about this concept but it always surprises us how it is lost on many mostly successful advisors.
4) Offer Human-to-Human Connection
Finally, one final thing we advocate for is that advisors should lean into the use of video, whether one-to-one or one-to-many.
In light of Zoom conferences becoming ubiquitous during the COVID-19 pandemic, remember that speaking with your clients in this manner is a refuge for all of the stress we are collectively feeling these days. Said differently, it allows for a necessary human-to-human connection.
Note that as it relates to pre-recorded one-to-many videos, we strongly believe that most imperfections in lighting or production quality are largely inconsequential. In fact, these imperfections can convey a sense of relatability, leaving a client thinking, “You’re human, just like me.” We’re all dealing with many of the same things these days, including our kids or pets “Zoom-bombing” our video calls. This is not a mark of being unprofessional; it’s a fact of life right now. (See the laundry list of “work from home fails” videos on YouTube, like this one, as evidence.)
Whether your video comes out looking perfectly scripted and professionally polished, or your cat makes a cameo by jumping onto the desk and knocking over your glass of water, the end result is the same: Video humanizes you. Yes clients want an advisor who helps them reach their financial goals, but they feel even better about their decision to pick you when they trust, feel connected to, and think they can relate to you.
Advisors Who Focus on Client Service Have Less Churn
We have 10+ years of first-hand experience working with progressive advisors, and they happen to have less client churn relative to their peers. It is no coincidence.
For anyone with lingering skepticism, let me assure you that we take our medicine at Blueprint Investment Partners. We have developed a steady content cadence and have been leveraging digital dissemination tools to improve our client service strategy for the last three years. As a result, we have improved our website traffic by roughly 143% over the last 4 quarters, and without any paid advertising or PR support. I chalk this up to a consistent stream of content that effectively speaks with our audience (you!).
So there you have it.
Ready to improve the service you're offering to clients? You may be able to access content support services through Blueprint’s Elite Advisor Program, which helps advisors with practice management by providing white-labeled portfolio updates and blog content you can share directly with clients, post on your website, and email to prospects. Please let us know if you’re interested in a conversation.