We all know that it’s much cheaper to retain an existing client than acquire a new one. Loyal clients typically lead to repeat or add-on business, as well as referrals, making them the most valuable. However, many businesses find it an expensive challenge to offer quality and personalized customer service. With the proliferation of digital and mobile technologies, clients are expecting more and more from businesses, making client loyalty an even larger task.
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are turning customer service on its head. Clients are speaking up on social networks, and their peers are spreading the word: for evidence of negative customer experiences that went viral, one need not look further than the infamous examples at United Airlines, Domino’s Pizza and Comcast.
In short, the social Web gives clients a voice. Companies have been forced to offer customer service on social media because customers are speaking to and about them on the networks. While social media can be a support channel for corporations and firms, it can also be the key for business professionals such as financial advisors to better engage and retain valuable clients.
Here are three proven practices that help financial advisors generate client loyalty through social media.
Step 1: Be Present and Connect With Your Network
The first step is to be present where your clients are. In the financial services world, many people assume that clients are going to engage with the brand’s corporate Twitter handle or Facebook page. Working with over 55,000 financial advisors and insurance agents at Hearsay Social, however, we’ve observed that clients are actually more likely to engage directly with the relationship managers who they know and trust. Clients have always relied upon the expertise of financial representatives, so it only makes sense that they’d want their trusted advisor to be present online and available to respond to their needs.
Having a LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, and/or Twitter handle makes financial advisors easily accessible to their clients. At its core, a social profile enables advisors to provide accurate and helpful information about themselves, what they do, and how to reach them. Social pages also serve as effective tools for advisors to demonstrate expertise, drive consistent mindshare, and consequently build trust. Successful social advisors stay top of mind with their clients and prospects by regularly sharing helpful tips related to the products they sell, relevant news, and personal updates that build emotional connection.
Step 2: Listen to Clients and Personalize Advice
The second, and arguably most important, step to building client loyalty through social networks is to listen.
Every day, clients are broadcasting valuable information about themselves and their needs on social media. With all this information publicly available, advisors have the tools and information they need to provide highly personalized service. Today's clients expect advisors to do their research and understand their goals and needs so that when advisors reach out it is at just the right time with the right information. Successful social advisors pay attention to questions and/or life events that indicate that they could use financial advice or products.
Step 3: Connect on a Personal Level
Beyond listening, successful social advisors use social data to learn about their clients and relate at scale. Akin to sending a client a birthday card, advisors should use social media to add valuable touch-points to their relationship with the client. Information shared on social makes it much easier to understand what’s happening in clients’ lives and truly build deeper relationships.
If a client has a baby or gets married, an advisor can now find out about it via Facebook; the simple act of sending a card or a gift based on this information could help move that client from a one-time buyer to a life-long loyal client who refers his or her friends. On top of this goodwill, core life events like job changes, marriages, or new babies often indicate that a client may need additional financial products or services from their advisors. Not only could reaching out to them at the right time help strengthen the relationship, but it could also help the advisor grow AUM.
Remember that “likes” aren’t forever; they can easily be followed by an “unlike.” But personally engaging in a consistent, authentic dialogue with clients through social media can have lasting impact on client loyalty.
Above all, it is clear that it pays to focus on strengthening client relationships with social media. This is easy to say but harder to execute, as it requires re-prioritization of time or budget. But loyal clients aren’t just valuable because they spend more with advisors; they’re valuable because they refer their friends and family. With those referrals, successful clients are an advisor’s most effective and powerful sales force. Happy clients are multiplied.