There’s no doubt the new client experience is a solid cornerstone for many of the nation’s most successful financial professionals. In fact, once you nail down this important process, it may very well become your firm’s most effective marketing channel.
What’s one of the most valuable assets in your firm? New clients. And when you deliver the “Rock Star” treatment during onboarding, they’ll usually reward you with strong client relationships and an ever-growing book of business.
It’s no secret. When you were working to win a new client, you probably promised exceptional service. Your onboarding process is where your new clients begin measuring you against that promise. Do you:
- Make them feel valued?
- Explain next steps so they’re confident that you’re moving forward on the path they agreed to?
- Deliver additional services or insights that they weren’t expecting?
- Treat them like a valued member of your firm’s family?
- Help them understand statements so they can clearly see how their retirement savings is doing?
Review 14 easy-to-implement tips to help take your new client onboarding to the next level.
- Create a Welcome Kit that’s basically a guidebook to help your new client navigate their journey with you. Be sure a personalized letter that ideally references something you discussed. The overarching goal of your firm’s Welcome Kit is to reinforce a new client’s valuable status as a member of an exclusive club—your firm family.
- Introduce new clients to members of your team just like you’d introduce them to members of your family. Of course, you’ll highlight each team member’s knowledge and professional skills. But also be sure to personalize each staff member. If a member of your staff is a devoted dog lover, then brag about their work with local animal shelters or maybe include a photo of their pet in the staff member’s bio. If a member of your staff wants to turn the day the Chicago Cubs won the World Series into a national holiday, talk about their love of that “W” flag. While each team member is a professional, new clients build relationships with people … and personalizing your staff.
- Clearly communicate next steps. When the new client opened an account with your firm, they were probably excited. Then they went home. They might have forgotten which paperwork you needed. Maybe they’re wondering if you’re handling the paperwork…or if you’re waiting for something from them. A detailed follow-up can be key to keeping things on track while you reinforce the idea that their business is very valuable to you.
- Find out your client’s communication preferences—and then follow them. The personalized service you very likely promised includes paying attention to how clients want to be reached. Do they prefer phone or email? Do they want printed statements mailed to them or would they be just as happy with electronic statements? Are they okay with calls at work or in the evenings? How many times a year do they want to meet? Too many financial professionals plug new clients into a pre-existing communication stream without taking new client preferences into account. That’s a quick way to make clients feel like “just a number” instead of a “Rock Star.”
- Assign a team member to be the new client’s point of contact. While new clients may not always be able to reach you due to your schedule, having a direct line of contact to one of your staff members can help quickly and easily handle questions as they arise. After all, it’s relatively likely if a new client called you with specific questions on their account, you’d forward that request to a staff member anyway.
- Get “social” with new clients. Is a new client on LinkedIn? Make it a priority to ask if you can connect. This is a smart way to keep up on changes in a client’s career and can also help introduce you to a new circle of potential contacts. Becoming friends on Facebook can be a good way to keep track of changes in a new client’s personal life. Connecting on social media can help you forge stronger bonds with new clients and can also be a quick way to brush up on topics to help get conversations going in future meetings.
- See how comfortable a new client is with the computer. Ask specific questions about computers and email programs so you can make sure you’re seamlessly connecting when you send messages. Find out what they use the computer for. A new client may tell you they’re totally computer-savvy … but if they’re only using a computer to check emails, your staff might want to be mindful of how they incorporate online account servicing options for this particular client.
- Create a New Client Online Account overview. This one-on-one session (either in person or via phone) is an extra-mile service for clients that also benefits your firm because clients who can confidently navigate online accounts may need less staff time devoted to servicing their account. Begin by anticipating which functions a “newbie” to the online accounts may be most interested in and then focus initially on those items. If a new client seems interested in other functions, your staff can then help them dive deeper into the options available through their online account.
- Give new clients a schedule of upcoming events. Your goal is to treat each new client like a “Rock Star”. You want them to feel like they’re now a valuable member of your family and you’re proud to introduce them to other members of your client family. Whether you’re holding virtual events or in-person gatherings like a monthly coffee meeting, be sure to acknowledge new clients and introduce them to other clients who may have something in common with them. Your new client will get the benefit of social proof that they’ve made a smart decision to join your firm’s family. And, of course, if new clients want to bring friends to an upcoming event, you’d be more than happy to welcome them.
- When your new client receives their first statement, call to walk through it with them. Statements can be confusing. For a lot of clients, they may look just like numbers… numbers…numbers. Having the new client’s “staff point person” walk through the statement with them delivers exceptional service by helping the new client pinpoint areas of the statement they should pay close attention to versus getting frustrated as they try to wade through all the numbers. It also demonstrates your firm’s professionalism because it shows you’re thinking of the new client and anticipating questions they may have as new members of our firm family.
- Surprise and delight new clients with a thank you note. This is a special way to tell the new client you value their business and show them they are a priority. This additional touchpoint further welcomes the new client into your firm family. Be sure to include personal touches you’ve learned about them, referencing their family, pets, hobbies, and interests. Imagine how impressed a new client would be if they receive a personal note showing that you’re listening to what’s important to them.
- Ask new clients for referrals. While referrals can be a significant new business engine for your firm, they’re also a great way to make your new client feel like a VIP. Once you’ve demonstrated your firm’s professionalism and high level of personal touches, asking for referrals can help a new client feel valued … especially if the referral request is framed as asking for a new client’s advice in how to reach more people like them.
- Ask new clients for permission to contact their other trusted advisors. Position this as a way your firm can better align with their entire financial picture. Think CPAs, attorneys, insurance agents, or business advisors. Introducing yourself to these centers of influence (COIs) for new clients can help you get a better grasp on the nuances of your new client’s financial world. Then, once you’ve connected with these COIs, be prepared to suggest opportunities to build upon work the COIs are doing with your new client in order to help them meet their goals.
- Invite new clients and their friends to dinner (or lunch) with you. Treat this as a “family dinner.” Your goal is not to sell new products. It’s building a stronger relationship with your new clients. Breaking bread with new clients can be a powerful way to reinforce the family aspect of your firm. When new clients see you valuing time with them, they’re also likely to assign more value to your relationship.
Treating new clients like the “Rock Stars” of your firm can be a smart way to build your book of business. The secret is all about anticipating questions so your team can deliver “just in time” service … while incorporating personal touches to make every new client feel like a VIP.
If you are interested in discussing any of these topics in more detail, contact Iron Point today.
Article written and provided by Sammons Retirement Solutions.