by Tony Vidler
Having bought into the need to engage with prospects and clients until they are ready to move ahead the next burning question from advisers centres upon what level of contact with customers is the “right amount”.
Much of the incumbent thinking around these questions is in fact quite dated I believe. For example, go back not that many years and good marketers providing a lot of fabulous material and support for financial advisers were suggesting that the ideal engagement cycle was to make sure your name was in front of clients every 90 days. I think at the time this was excellent advice given the norm for most professionals was to contact clients every 1-2 years, so anyone contacting clients 4 or perhaps 5 times per year stood out for their “high” frequency of contact and perceived service levels. But that was then, when email was new(ish), social media unthought of and texting clients was still a novelty…
That tactic still seems to be an embedded belief across the industry….contact clients and good prospects about once oevery calendar quarter.
Recently I read a report which suggested advisers needed to find 70 or more touch-points with each client each year.
Engage with clients 70 x per annum!
Wow….this is the expectation NOW?
At first glance that seems an extraordinary level of contact and engagement. Overwhelming in fact. It seems to be overwhelming from both a delivery perspective and also from the customer’s point of view….it is just too much isn’t it?
But maybe it is not.
As I thought about this in the broader context of social media interactions, as opposed to just sending newsletters or service information, I came to realise that perhaps this is not an extraordinary level of contact at all in todays world. On any given day there will be a couple of hundred emails in and out, and a number of them are not what we would call “advice” under any definition. They are just chatter. Sharing a bit of news…having a quip…having a bit of fun over the weekends football results…these informal and personal emails are touch points which reinforce the relationship. Sharing on Facebook pages…interacting on Twitter….commenting on Linkedin changes or group discussions….these are all touch points which can build or reinforce a relationship.
An adviser sending out newsletters, news alerts, birthday wishes and a few event invitations each year is already probably getting their name in front of the client 10 x per year. Add in a couple of phone calls and a couple of meetings and it is perhaps 15 or so touch points for a typical adviser-client relationship these days. So probably for most advisers what they believe (“contact every 90 days”) is not what they are really doing anyway. But that is still a long way short of 70 isn’t it?
Throw in a few reminders for meetings or paperwork to be followed up, and then add in half a dozen or so interactions on Linked in each year and we are perhaps at about 25 engagements with a client in any given year. Swap a couple of comments on a Facebook post maybe 4 times a year, share a few Youtube links and we are about half way there already. And that is probably a reasonably typical level of engagement for an adviser and a top-tier client today. No wonder advisers feel run off their feet….300 or so clients with about 35 or so interactions each per annum is about 10,500 in total….or about 50 or so every working day for a typical adviser.
Yet, it is suggested that we DOUBLE that level of engagement?
We can double it actually. We can also do it without being intrusive, and without having to use extraordinary amounts of personal time engaging with each client personally. Leveraging social media, technology, staff and processes can lift engagement levels easily enough without requiring loads of adviser time.
So too can writing a weekly blog. It doesn’t have to be long…in fact there is a lot of merit for an adviser to specialise in producing very short blogs which are in easily digestible chunks for time poor clients. Valuable insight into the implications of a piece of news, or a quick “how to”, or an interesting fact….they can all be delivered in perhaps 200 words. Even for a “hunt and peck” typist doing it them self that is perhaps an hour a week.
Maybe 70 engagement touch points per client per annum is possible after all…Maybe. One thing is clear though: Once every 90 days is nowhere near enough client engagement in today’s world.