In an environment of increasing competition, it is important for you to take steps to ensure your clients remain with you.
Getting along with existing clients, with whom you can build deeper relationships and grow your business, is much easier and less costly than finding and recruiting new clients, says Scott Gerlitz, a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Calgary.
Additionally, existing clients are generally less resistant to new product offers; they may not be as sensitive to fees; and they may be more receptive to cross-selling initiatives.
Your existing clients already know and trust you, says Heather Holjevac, a financial planner with TriDelta Partners in Oakville, Ont., so dealing with them is much easier.
Here are five strategies to help to keep your existing clients happy:
1. Stay in touch
Whatever form of communication you choose — face-to-face meetings, email or telephone — staying in touch with your clients is essential. This is especially important when markets are not doing well, Gerlitz says.
In such cases, you must be proactive, Holjevac says. While most advisors have quarterly, semi-annual or annual reviews with their clients, that may not always be enough. For example, Holjevac’s clients receive, in addition to scheduled reviews, monthly newsletters and periodical emails, which provide market and other related information.
2. Meet expectations
Holjevac recommends that you know your clients thoroughly and set reasonable expectations, which you must be able to fulfill. This mutual understanding makes it easier for you to keep your clients happy.
“Make sure they understand what you do,” she says, “and how you work. Listen to what they want, and communicate and exceed your deliverables.”
Gerlitz suggests that during reviews that you ask clients: “Am I meeting your expectations? Am I missing anything?”
3. Make yourself available
“Accessibility is one of the most important means of maintaining good client relationships,” Holjevac says.
Clients want to know they can reach you and get answers to their queries in a reasonable time. Clients can lose their confidence in you if they cannot reach you.
Gerlitz says that if he is not accessible, a member of his team is always available to deal with clients.
4. Listen to your clients
Getting client feedback, following up on that feedback and implementing feasible suggestions can go a long way toward maintaining long-lasting client relationships. It shows that you respect the views of your clients and are listening to them.
Feedback initiatives can be formal or informal. For example, Gerlitz seeks feedback during client reviews, during which he takes a very direct approach in asking for feedback. Holjevac, on the other hand, conducts an annual written survey in which her clients express their views and opinions anonymously.
5. Show your appreciation
Ensure that you have access to a wide range of social, sporting and cultural events. Based on your knowledge of your clients’ personal preferences, invite them or provide tickets to the most appropriate events.
Both Gerlitz and Holjevac send clients cards and gift baskets on special occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries and to celebrate life events. Holjevac’s firm also hosts an annual client appreciation event, and she occasionally takes clients to lunch.