Whoa…You Want me to Talk to Clients How Often?

“How much is too much contact?” “How often is too often?” These are the questions that Tony Vidler hears all too often from advisers struggling to work out what level of contact with customers is the ‘right amount’…

Much of the incumbent thinking around these questions is in fact quite dated. 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 one to two years, so anyone contacting clients four or perhaps five 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 un-thought of and texting clients was still a novelty…

Recently I read a report which suggested advisers needed to find 70 or more touch-points with each client, each year. 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?

Perhaps 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 today’s 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 weekend’s football results… These informal and personal emails are touch points which reinforce the relationship. In the same way, sharing a post on a Facebook page, interacting on Twitter and commenting on LinkedIn changes or group discussions are all touch points which bolster 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 times 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. That 90-day cycle is already blown out of the water. But it 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 LinkedIn each year and we are at about 25 engagements with a client in any given year. Swap a couple of comments on a Facebook post, maybe four 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 around 35 interactions each per annum is about 10,500 in total… or about 50 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 do it without being intrusive, and without having to use extraordinary amounts of 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, a quick ‘how to’, or an interesting fact can all be delivered in approximately 200 words. Even for a ‘hunt and peck’ typist doing it themselves 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.

Want more?

You may also find this post from Tony’s blog useful: Finding YOUR Social Media Frequency

If you want more great ideas like this then you need to book Tony for your next event as a speaker.

Tony Vidler is a New Zealand-based advice consultant who helps advisers create the branding and positioning they want, and then helps them get more business. Tony is the Principal of Strictly Business, a consulting and coaching firm for financial advice professionals. He began his career in the New Zealand financial services industry in June 1990 as a tied life agent.

This article first featured on Tony’s blog, The Financial Adviser Coach in May 2015.

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