In an industry such as financial services, client relationships and trust between advisors and their clients serve as the foundation of doing business. Establishing client intimacy can also be a strategy for differentiating yourself from the competition.
A person is unlikely to take your advice if he or she doesn't believe you have their best interests at heart. That said, managing your firm's reputation and delivering client service that goes above and beyond the client's expectations is key to building long-lasting business partnerships that are lucrative for all parties involved.
Marketing and networking may be enough to attract new prospects to your firm, but you won't build your business if you and your staff are unable to deliver the results and client experience that make clients want to stay.
Megan Burns, a Forrester Research senior analyst, told Inc. magazine that having clients who are advocates for (or detractors of) your business is a major factor in whether you will be able to access others in their network and convert them from prospects to customers.
It represents "an essential moment of truth for companies," she added. "The experience that individuals have with a company and then what they hear from friends and family influence their perception of and likelihood to do business with a company."
If you're concerned about your firm's current capabilities when it comes to customer service, it may be time to run a financial advisor training program on the topic. As Service Management Group president Andy Fromm told Inc., hiring the right people from the outset is also vital to a client relationship management program.
He advises seeking out staff members who truly care about the product and are driven by the desire to deliver the highest-quality service to your client base.
When recruiting new advisors or support staff, ask yourself a few questions. Are they consistent? Patient? Empathetic? These are all characteristics that can indicate a hire will focus on the clients' needs and go out of their way to meet them, Fromm notes.
By working to get to know and understand your clients' backgrounds, motivations, values and goals, you and your employees can anticipate their service needs and what strategies will help solve their issues.
Encourage staff members to look out for signals that may indicate a client is dissatisfied, and empower them to address that problem before it is expressed. This shows attentiveness and provides the opportunity to derive a positive outcome from what started as a negative situation. Also remember to follow up after a solution has been reached, Inc. magazine advises, as this will establish a two-way dialogue between advisor and client.