When communicating with clients, is it better to write, call or to meet in person? In addition, can we as advisors provide details to those clients who want the details and stick to the big picture for clients who do not wish to be bogged down with the finer points? Given each individual’s inherent differences, is it feasible for advisors to tailor their communication to fit each specific client?
I'm confident there are advisors who successfully use the same communication method and style with all clients. However, can advisors increase their effectiveness by tailoring their communication to fit specific clients? I believe we can and should, as this will strengthen the relationship. Although obvious, the relationship is important to retention. You don't have to be their buddy, but you do have to form a professional bond.
Accomplishing this will require knowledge and effort. The solution will depend, in part, on your own unique personality along with that of your client. To begin, let's examine three primary communication methods: writing, calling, and meeting in person.
When you write, everyone reads the same thing. If customization is your goal, unless you write multiple pieces for specific clients, writing is the most impersonal and least effective method. When you call, though you can modify what you say, you cannot see their reaction. Therefore, the most effective method for customizing your communication is face to face. As your practice grows, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to meet with every client as often as you might like.
Here are some steps you can take to get started:
Step 1: Poll Your Clients
The goal is to understand what your clients think. Therefore, you might consider an online survey or a face-to-face meeting. As far as style is concerned, do they prefer knowing the details or will a summary suffice? Do they prefer meeting face to face or is online acceptable? Perhaps a combination of the two? How often would they like to hear from you? Collect the data!
Step 2: Examine Your Own Personality
This is important because we all tend to view the world through the prism of our personality. For instance, if we are detail oriented, we tend to use more details. Our answers may be longer than some clients desire. Moreover, changing our communication style can prove challenging, as old habits are hard to break.
Step 3: Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Are you detail-oriented? Do you have clients who are not? They probably don't like the details as much as you. This often results in advisors working with people with similar personalities. For example, a big-picture advisor may avoid working with an analytical client, etc. If you're weak in one area, consider strengthening that area or partnering with someone who compliments your weaknesses.
Step 4: Implement
Use this information along with your contact management system to create a customized, repeatable, consistent deliverable. This will incorporate content, style and alarms to remind you when to contact each client.
Step 5: Monitor-Feedback
After a six months or a year, ask the client if they are satisfied with the method, style and frequency of your communications. In addition, get as much feedback as you can. Many clients will be happy to assist. Finally, use their feedback to make improvements where possible.
The key is to enhance the client’s experience, so communication is crucial. Therefore, take inventory of your clients’ wishes, examine your own personality, create a consistent deliverable and enhance when possible.
Thanks for reading and have a great week!