Clients come in all shapes and sizes and it takes different strategies to retain them. But if you consistently exceed your clients’ expectations, they are likely to stay with you.
“You have to tap into their inner needs as part of your broader retention strategy,” says Larry Distillio, assistant vice-president, practice management, with Mackenzie Investments in Toronto. You have to “dig deep to uncover any gaps” that you can fill, he says. By doing so, you will earn their trust and confidence, enhancing your chances of retaining them.
Your objective is to deepen your relationship with clients and make yourself indispensable to them, says Nadia David, marketing and communications consultant with Premier Consulting Partners in Mississauga, Ont. “They must have confidence in you that you are always looking out for them,” she says.
Below are five strategies for retaining clients:
1. Manage expectations
When you meet the perceived expectations of clients, Distillio says, they remain in a “neutral zone.” But if you exceed their expectations, they will be happier to work with you.
He suggests you tell clients: “Here’s what you should expect from me.” By doing so, Distillio says, you are entering into a “service agreement” with your clients.
Make sure they understand that you can’t control the markets or changes in regulations. But you can control your level of service. For example, you can set expectations in areas such as how you are going to educate them, how soon you will respond to their calls and the availability of team members they can contact.
Says Distillio: “Set expectations in ways you can control.”
2. Ask for feedback
Clients generally appreciate your asking for their feedback. “It shows that you’ve got their backs,” Distillio says. And it demonstrates that you respect their views.
He suggests asking clients: “Have I followed through on my promises?”
By getting their feedback, you will be able to determine clients’ level of satisfaction and make any adjustments needed to keep them satisfied.
3. Communicate with your clients
Distillio advises that you focus on proactive, high-touch communication with your clients.
“Face-to-face communication is best,” David says, “but telephone or email contact is typically good enough between those meetings.”
Keep your clients apprised of market developments and anything that might affect their investments.
“Use client interviews to learn as much as possible about your clients and to show that you care about their well-being,” David says.
Remember that communication is a “two-way street,” David adds, and you should ensure that clients can always reach you if the need arises.
4. Guard the exits
“Lock clients in by making yourself indispensable,” David says. “The more involved you are with helping clients plan their lives, the less likely they are to leave you.”
For example, you might offer a broad range of products and services, such as registered and non-registered investments, and insurance and estate planning. Your clients’ other family members might also be your clients.
“When the relationship is deep enough,” David says, “loyalty is typically greater and the cost of leaving you for a competitor might not be worth it.”
5. Show appreciation
Demonstrate to clients that you appreciate their business in a meaningful way, David says. Organize client-appreciation events and other special events, focusing on their interests. You should also send gifts on special occasions such as life events, birthdays and anniversaries.
This is the second part of a two-part series on client retention. The first part explains why client retention should be a top priority.
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