Sometimes, changing a few words can change a relationship. It’s true with your personal relationships and it’s true with your clients.When you sat down to design your client experience, you likely thought first about what you want to offer to your clients and how often. For example, you might offer to meet with them twice a year, complete a full plan update annually or hold a family review meeting every three years. Further, you might have defined processes to schedule those meetings, pull the relevant information and send a follow-up with any decisions made or open action items. It all makes perfect sense.In essence, what you are doing is designing ‘moments in time’ for your clients and then defining how those moments will play out. The review meeting may be one of the most important moments in time because, according to our research, the quality of that review is tightly connected to engagement.The problem is that clients don’t live their financial lives as moments in time. And if they did, it would be a wild (but happy) coincidence if those moments coincided with the timing of their review meetings. Their financial lives are lived on a continuum, punctuated by review meetings. The review is not an end in itself although that’s often how we treat it when designing a client experience.
A Process Rather than a Point in Time
The good news is that effective review meetings can create confidence and clarity. Yet the timing of those reviews are often more connected to the calendar than how clients are feeling or what they are experiencing. It’s often ‘the stuff in between the moments in time’ that pops up and dents the confidence we feel when we walk out of a review. And that’s when clients need you the most, even though you obviously can’t be there every minute of every day. It would be expensive and slightly creepy.Herein lies your challenge. How can you connect the dots between reviews to create a sense of continuity and a sense that you are walking beside your clients as they move through their financial lives? From a more tactical perspective, how can you tweak your communications process to ensure that reviews are seen as part of an on-going process rather than being seen as a point in time?Sometimes changing a few simple words can significantly enhance perceived value.If we create that sense of continuity between reviews, clients will ascribe value to the overall process. If the review is seen as an end in itself, then clients may believe that the value you provide is limited to the time that you are sitting across the desk. And that’s not only incorrect, but is dangerous when it comes to perceived value.
Using Your Review Follow-up to Create Continuous Connection
The answer may be much simpler than you imagine and it has to do with the words you use when following up on a review meeting. Rather than providing a list of decisions and actions and including a note with the date or timing of the next review, choose your words to build a bridge from one review to the next. Choose words that ensure that the review is not seen as an end it itself, but one step in an on-going process.Related: What Does It Really Take to Be an Exceptional Advisor?
That might mean using words and phrases such as the following. Thanks for taking the time to meet and review where you are now on the path to reaching your goals. You’re one step closer to…… As you know, we’ll meet x times this year, so we’ll connect x more times before December. Between now and our next meeting, we’ll be doing the following…. Between now and our next meeting, I’d ask you to think about the following… Of course, behind the scenes we’ll be doing the following…..We don’t see you every month, but know that we’re hard at work on your behalf.
Creating Continuous Connection Through On-Going Communications
The other communications you send, or activities you offer, can also create continuous connection if they’re sent intentionally. That is, you could send a market update every quarter and while that may be appreciated, it isn’t creating meaningful connection because it doesn’t necessarily reflect the conversations you are having with your clients. If, however, you hold a review and discuss the fact that your client is about to have their first grandchild, then sending a book or article on how to transition to the new role of grandparent, does create continuous connection. The gift or article is an extension of the conversation.In future posts we’ll examine how to use your on-going communications to create an on-going conversation with clients and drive deeper engagement.