Category Archives for "Client Experience"

Creating an Optimal Office Atmosphere

Having a welcoming and inviting office atmosphere goes beyond just making sure your visiting clients and prospects feel comfortable. It defines how you and your staff are perceived and contributes to overall client satisfaction and retention. It can also affect the amount of trust that someone places in you to handle one of their most important assets–their money.

Walk through your office and experience it from your clients’ perspective. Modify and enhance your experience based on your findings.

Here’s a checklist to help you out in the most common areas of your office so your clients have the most pleasant experience possible.

It Starts Outside

Your clients’ first impression of your business begins forming the moment they start looking for your office sign. Check for the following things:

  • Signage is clearly visible from the street.
  • Parking is easy to find, clearly marked, and clean.
  • Parking has easy access to the office, an adequate number of spaces, and bright exterior lighting.
  • Access for elderly and less mobile clients and guests is available if needed (stairs, handrails, ramps, etc.)
  • The front door has your business name, logo, and office hours.

Entering the Office

Once they successfully find your office and front door, how do your clients feel walking in? Is it neat and clean, welcoming, is there anything that could be off-putting to someone?

  • Receptionist/Front Desk Area:
    • Clean, organized and welcoming.
    • No confidential or personal information is in view.
  • Waiting Area:
    • Ambiance: appropriate décor, professional, welcoming.
    • Seating: comfortable, clean, not showing signs of wear.
    • Awards and articles: well framed and hung in view.
    • Reading materials: local magazines, industry magazines.
    • Mints or candy are available.
    • Create a nice notebook that includes copies of articles on your business and/or team members.
  • Restroom:
    • Clear and visible signage showing the location.
    • Stocked with adequate supplies.
    • Clean at all times.
    • Lotion and air freshener are a nice touch, often forgotten.
    • Check once a day for cleanliness and supplies that need to be restocked.

General Atmosphere

A comfortable atmosphere can mean different things for different people. There are a few things that should be taken into consideration when ensuring you can please the majority.

  • Lighting:
    • Soft but bright.
    • Well lit throughout the entire office.
    • Utilize accent lighting such as lamps.
  • Smell
    • Be aware that some may be sensitive to strong smells.
    • Opt for a clean smell, not overpowering air fresheners.
  • Temperature:
    • Not too cold and not too hot.
    • Most people are comfortable around 72 degrees.
  • Cleanliness:
    • Straighten the waiting area several times throughout the day.
    • If you have a cleaning service know the frequency of their visits and the services included.
    • Whatever services are not included will need to be assigned and scheduled to ensure there are no gaps.

Meeting Space

Most clients that come to your office will be meeting in a conference room or meeting space. Just because you aren’t in this room on a daily basis does not mean that it can be neglected.

  • General:
    • Professional and appealing décor.
    • An adequate number of comfortable chairs.
    • Don’t forget notepads and pens.
  • Technology for presentations:
    • Screens, computers, speakers in good working condition and well maintained.
    • All team members are trained on how to use the equipment and how to troubleshoot if needed.
  • Meeting snacks:
    • Snack-sized nut mixes, candy, chocolates, etc.
    • Make sure items come individually wrapped (nobody wants to eat what everyone else has touched).
  • Extra copy of your information packet

Private Offices

Occasionally you may host clients in a private office, but most often they are visible from the common areas. Don’t let them be a forgotten part of your first impression.

  • Don’t be afraid to show some personality.
  • Should be professional.
  • Kept clean and tidy.

Beyond Furniture and Lighting

It is often said that the little things can go a long way. Here are a few little things to help you go the extra mile.

  • Make sure to offer a drink upon arrival and again when seated in the meeting area.
    • Beverages available: water, coffee, tea, soda.
    • Be sure to keep items in stock that a client may want (i.e. sugar, creamer, ice).
  • Don’t forget your manners:
    • Saying hello goes a long way.
    • Makes clients feel welcome, important, and acknowledged.

Helping the clients that visit your office to feel welcome not only shows you care about your clients’ experience but also builds trust.

What is Lead Nurturing?

In my previous article in this series, Funnels for Financial Advisers: How to Create a Successful Lead Generation Process I talked about the steps to gather the information you need for leads. Now I would like to explain what to do with all of the information you have compiled.

This part encompasses the know, like, and trust process that I have talked about in the past, and it is an essential step in getting someone from just looking around your website to actually becoming a client. People want to do business with people they are comfortable with. You have to nurture those leads.

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with a lead, also known as in our industry as a prospect. It is what you do before they are ready to commit to meeting with you, or making a decision about doing business with you. Simply put it is the planned out series of points of contact you use to introduce your firm and yourself to potential clients.

In the past, this may have been referred to as a marketing “drip” campaign and was done via printed and mailed letters. With the integration of technology, websites, social media, and email it can be simplified and modernized into an automated email series.

Why do I need this?

Lead nurturing has become an integral part of any successful marketing strategy. By having the ability to set everything up in an automated campaign it will save you time (and money). In the past, you had to pay for print and postage, you had to wait on items to arrive in the mail, and you never really knew what most people did with the information. Did it go straight into the trash? Did they read it? Did they visit your site? There was no way to track the results of your efforts.

With an automated, digital campaign, you now have a way to get your information in front of potential clients instantly. Items go directly to their email inbox. Most people have smartphones and have access to it anyway and anywhere. There are also ways to now track what they do with it once they receive it. It has completely revolutionized the way lead nurturing takes place.

By utilizing the modern technology available today, you can do all of this while also using some human aspects such as remembering to follow up with a new contact and introducing the firm. We are all busy and sometimes we can simply forget who is where in the process. Why not set yourself up for success?

Where does this fit into my marketing?

 Do you remember the Marketing Funnel? The process is Attract, Nurture, Convert, Experience.

Attract

The process of attracting leads is call lead generation. I covered this topic and how to do it in previous articles, but I will do a quick review here.

Lead generation is the section of the funnel where you use marketing campaigns to create awareness or attract potential clients. You then capture the information from your website, events, referrals, centers of influence, and partnerships.

Nurture

Lead nurturing is what to do with all of the information you capture. Nurture is the pivotal point of moving traffic to your website and gaining clients. It’s important!

This is the step where you increase interest, build relationships (know, like, trust), and prove to them that you can share information that is relevant and useful. This is the time to establish yourself as an industry expert, show them that you are trustworthy, and create top of mind awareness.

I will cover the last two (convert and experience) in future posts.

When should I start the lead nurturing process?

You should start this process now!

Even if you do not have a complete generation process in place you are always getting leads from various places. It is best practice to have a system set up to push these leads into and through a nurturing campaign.

If you do not have a lead nurturing process in place, you are possibly dropping the ball. You have put a lot of work and effort into setting up the different ways to find and capture lead information. You need to make sure you are not losing information in the process and in turn losing potential customers.

How do I start?

Now that I have explained the what, why, where, and when, you need to know the how. In the next part of this series, I will cover the details about the How-to of Lead Nurturing and provide you with the actionable steps and even a few checklists and templates to get you started.

1 How to Create a Successful Lead-Generation Process

In my previous article in this series on funnels for financial advisorsI talked about what is a lead and why they are important. Now you need the actionable steps to start gathering the information you need.

There are two primary ways for lead generation. One is through referrals and/or centers-of-influence (COIs); these are based on word-of-mouth recommendations. But I am going to focus on your website and social media traffic, as these are things over which you have more control.

Website

There are several opportunities on your website to capture leads. Here are a few guidelines to follow for each one.

Call to Action

A call to action (CTA) is a place on your website where you ask the visitor to do something. It may be as simple as a clickable button to find out more, schedule an appointment, or download a checklist. This is a way to provoke an immediate response and get visitors to complete the desired course of action (i.e., share their information with you).

To be successful, there are a few guidelines to follow:

  • CTAs need to be clear, engaging, and nurturing. Give visitors a reason to keep coming back.
    • Simple is always better! This is not the time to overcomplicate things and make it hard for the person to understand what it is that you want them to do.
  • Integrate CTAs into your website pages, blog posts, and present them on their own on a landing page.
    • A landing page is designed for a specific marketing campaign. It is not tied to your website in the traditional sense, but you can direct people to it by providing a link – on your website or in an email or social media post.
  • Have a lead magnet that offers valuable information for just the cost of sharing their email address:
    • Presentation
    • Webinar
    • White paper
    • Free report
    • Portfolio review
    • Introductory call

Ways to present CTAs to prospects

You can have more than one CTA on your website. They are called primary and secondary CTAs.

Primary – this is the ideal action you would want them to take – like signing up for your service or scheduling an appointment.

Secondary –some people may not be ready to “call now.” This is where a secondary CTA comes into play. Use the secondary to give them some additional information – like watching a video or downloading a checklist. This hopefully would encourage them to eventually go back and take the primary step.

A/B testing can help you optimize your CTAs. This is where you have two different variations for your CTA and you can set them up so that each one randomly shows on your website. By tracking your metrics (see my article for more about metrics) you can see which variation performs better. It could be a small difference between asking someone to get in touch versus sign up for a newsletter. Both of these have the same outcome – you capture their information. But they are very different requests, therefore they will have different results.

Capture the information

Now that you have set up your CTAs on your website you need a way to capture the information. This is most commonly done with forms. The most common and the most useful piece of data you can collect is an email address.

By using CTAs like “Contact Us” or newsletter sign-ups, you will be asking for their email address. You will then have a way to reach out to prospects and start to build the know, like, trust factor and nurture the relationship.

A few other website tips

  • Focus on the visitor more than yourself. But keep it personal. Tell stories. Be unique (as much as possible).
  • Design a user-friendly experience so visitors clearly see what you do, how you help them, and what the steps are for contacting you.
  • The financial industry has a lot of technical jargon. Simplify text so the average prospect will understand what you are saying – this is called your “readability score.”
  • Use keywords for search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Know to whom you are talking. Define your audience and target them. Not everyone is an ideal client.

Social media

Over the last few years the use of social media to promote businesses has grown exponentially. More and more people are expanding their use of social media from just keeping up with friends to following businesses and using it to make purchasing decisions. There are several ways you can use this to your advantage and get more content in front of potential clients, making your firm more visible to the right people.

In your social media posts be sure to point to your website by sharing blog posts articles and any other valuable information that links back to your website. You have already spent the time creating and optimizing the CTAs on your website; now you need to direct people there.

Your website is your best and most important tool for generating and capturing leads. Everything else is used to bring visitors to your site. Always include your website links to your home page, blogs, and resources. <tweetable>

Social media is a relationship-building tool – not a sales tool. Make sure that you are sharing things that are interesting and useful to people. If you are not sure if you are using social media to its full capacity you can check out this article: A 10 Step Plan to Manage Social Media.

Managing expectations

  • Lead generation is all about collecting the information. You have to determine what is the best, most accurate source of potential clients.
  • Marketing is not an “if you build it they will come” process. It takes time to create a campaign and to see results. In the financial industry, it takes months or longer to nurture prospects.
  • Point as much traffic to your website as this should be the hub of where people get to know your business and how you can help them. Social media and other platforms are just tools to point them back to your website.
  • Evaluate, review, and optimize your process. Monitor traffic and tweak as you see fit. The good thing about online marketing is that items can be updated in a few clicks.
  • Trust the system and process.

What to do next?

Now that you know all of the ins and outs of CTAs and capturing prospect information you are probably asking “How do I convert leads into clients?” and “What do I do with all of this information?”

That is the next step. You need to set up a lead-nurturing process. You have set up places where people indicated they were interested enough to give you their information – don’t drop the ball.

In the next part of this series, I will explain the process of lead nurturing.

1 Where, Oh Where is my Calling List?

In my last article, Marketing Funnels for Financial Advisers, I gave an overview of marketing funnels and their important role in marketing for financial advisers. This article will cover the first step – lead generation – and why sales is no longer about the calling list.

What is a lead?

A lead is a person who has shown interest in your company in some way. It is a “potential sale.” They may come from website visitors, social media, or blogs. Based on their interaction with you (or your content) they are slightly interested in what you have to say.

But how do you know if someone is actually a lead or just a visitor? Let’s break it down. If 100 people visit your website in a week, and ten are really interested in your services, those would be your leads.

What is Lead Generation?

Great, you have ten leads! Or do you? The question is, how do you capture those ten people’s information so you can reach out and contact them? You have to have a process in place to do so – this process is what is called lead generation.

It’s the process of collecting the right information from the right people.

You have to have a process in place to identify and cultivate potential customers for your financial advisory firm. It is all about gathering the information from potential clients and individuals that have shown interest in your business, product, or service.

Lose the Calling List

Things have changed over the years. Twenty years ago someone would go to their local insurance agent or family banker and ask for a recommendation for a financial adviser, or financial advisers would pay for a list of potential clients that they could send out mass emails or make impersonal cold calls to all afternoon.

While both of these ways of connecting with new clients are still used today, they are no longer the only, or the best, options. As a person doing business you have to ask yourself – how are my potential clients looking for me – and meet them there.

In today’s world, a person is also no longer limited to only local options and they are no longer limited to the recommendations of only their friends. They can search the internet, find a list of hundreds of advisers, and research the company without leaving their own desk.

They are not interested in getting cold calls at dinner time or even a cookie-cutter email reaching out to them. They want to be in control of the interaction. They want to make the first move. They want to get to know you, build a relationship with you, and begin to trust you before committing to doing business with you. The best thing you can do is give them as many opportunities as possible to do so.

Leads Don’t Just Happen

Not everyone who sees your website, or other branded material, is a good fit to be a client. Not everyone that reads your latest blog or even follows you on social media is going to decide to have a relationship with you. You have to do the work to get the right ones to let you know they are interested.

You have to give them a way to let you know that they are interested, that they want more information, or they wouldn’t mind having you reach out. The second part is to convince them to take action. You have to convince them to fill out the form and click the “learn more” button. All you can do is give them the opportunity; they have to take the action.

What To Do Next?

You have to publicize yourself and your business and do everything you can to engage with the right people.

First, know exactly “who are the right people.” You need to define your audience and then target them. In the past this was done with a large net, hoping to catch a few, with cold calls and emails. Now you use your website and social media to interact with people. Potential clients will have a need, and at some point they realized that you could fill that need. Now you just need to figure out how to make that connection and get their information.

Closing

The number of people that visit your site, or see your information online, is unlimited. What is limited is the number of people that are actually interested in doing business with you. By having a well thought out process in place to capture leads you can increase your chances of making the right connections with the right people – potential clients.

In the next article in this series I will cover the details of How To Create a Successful Lead Generation Process.

1 Marketing Funnels for Financial Advisors

Marketing funnels describe how potential customers move from looking to buying. Advisors can and should use that concept. In this multi-part series, I will explain how advisors can gain more control over the funneling process.

In this first part, I will define a funnel and why it is essential to your marketing strategy.


What is a funnel?

A marketing funnel is the journey from prospect to client you create within your marketing strategy. It is a carefully structured set of steps or actions a person has to go through. It’s called a funnel because many may start the process, but only a few will complete it. A funnel is mostly a self-selecting process, as it’s the client’s choice to move through, but it is the firm’s job to set things up in the most beneficial and informative way possible.

While a marketing funnel is used in all industries and is especially important in the financial advisory world. It is not about making a sale, but rather MANAGING the client journey and creating value.

Misconceptions

While the idea of marketing funnels is a common one, it is also associated with misconceptions.

Misunderstood. When speaking with my financial advisor clients about setting up funnels as a part of their marketing strategy, I often hear that funnels are viewed as pushy or too sales-driven for this industry. This is not true if you keep the focus on building and nurturing relationships, and less about making the sale.

Not static. People do not behave in a linear way. While you may think that the ideal way to get from point A to point B is a straight line, it is not always the path chosen by your clients. As long as you take that into account when developing your marketing funnels, you will understand the process more clearly and have a better understanding of your results.

Situational. Aside from your client’s unique behavior, you have to take into consideration the uniqueness of your business. Funnels are customized to your business. There is no standard marketing funnel and there are things you need to consider when thinking about your process.

While funnels cannot fix poor targeting, lack of focus or low-quality service they can make sure that you are doing everything possible to create the best experience possible for potential clients.

Why do I need this?

When a potential client comes to your office, what do you do? You greet them warmly, offer them something to drink, show them to the conference room and guide them through the meeting agenda. Why not do this for online visitors? You would never let someone into your office to just wander around and figure things out; they would leave and never come back. You don’t want to leave online visitors to figure it out own their own either.  You are missing opportunities to show people what you are about (know you), what it would be like to work with you (like you), and what your values are (trust you).

Using marketing funnels has become an integral part of a successful marketing strategy. Without funnels, you are leaving people to figure things out on their own. You are losing opportunities to chance in the hopes that they will make the choice to do what you want them to do – to read your mind.

It is about setting your business up to be found, again and again. But it doesn’t stop there. You must attract prospects, interact with them and then track them to gauge how you are doing.

Once someone goes through the funnel and becomes a client, that relationship must continue to be engaged and nurtured. The ultimate result is a happy, referable client.

How can financial advisers use this?

In today’s online world this process is mostly driven by email. You move prospective clients through stages to get them to knowlike and trust you. It is about building relationships, showing that you are for their best interest, and a thought leader in your industry.

There are many aspects that are unique to the advisory industry.

Relationship building. You are not selling a tangible product; you are selling yourself or your firm. Not every person needs your services, so your potential client base is smaller and more limited than that of someone selling televisions. This means that your marketing should be as effective and efficient as possible. You not only need to reach the right, people but you also need to get these people to choose you, through building relationships and engagement.

 Establish likeability. Providing financial advisory services is very personal and clients don’t make the decision quickly. They have to know you and feel like they have (or could have) a strong relationship with you. It is your job to build their trust in you. People have all of the information they want at their fingertips; most people do not want to make quick decisions, but educated ones.

 Create trust. The great thing about funnels is that each firm’s is unique, set up just for your business and target client. There are no cookie-cutter financial advisers, and there are no cookie-cutter funnels. Give significant consideration when thinking about your process to the following factors:

  • Your brand values
  • Target market’s needs
  • How you deliver value
  • Your personality
  • Your goals

How do I start?

The most important thing is to start. You need to understand the general strategy and then begin. It is a process, and it requires ongoing evaluation and adjustment. The benefit to this is that once it is set up, it is generally an automated system that will save you time in the long run. You won’t have to answer the same questions over and over. You won’t have to “hand-hold” potential clients through the process. It will already be in place, and it will be well thought out and efficient.

There are multiple types of funnels for different purposes and various services. For my financial advisory clients and this series, since it is focused on the financial industry, the marketing funnel I will focus on is the nurturing funnel.

Closing

Marketing funnels can be a difficult process to understand, and even more difficult for financial advisors because of the unique nature of the industry and services offered. If you position yourself correctly and have a clear plan of action for your marketing efforts, you can capture the maximum number of visitors and convert those qualified to clients.

In this series, Funnels for Financial Advisors, I will go over each step within the process and give you examples and actionable items that you can implement into your marketing strategy to gain the most benefit from your efforts. Keep your eye out for the next article on the first step of the funnel: Attract.

One Tool That Financial Advisors Need To Build a Great Client Experience

Financial advisors need to provide cohesive client experience.  They want to differentiate themselves by delivering superior service. They seek a consistent process of staying in contact, building relationships and keeping information organized and automated.

Having and maintaining a client relationship management (CRM) tool is vital for financial advisors who want to build a solid client experience.  A CRM refers to the practices, strategies, and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the client lifecycle, with the goal of improving business relationships with clients, assisting in retention and driving sales growth. CRMs are used to manage not only contact information but also points of contact and help automate tasks and processes.

With all the emails, phone calls and information we utilize in business it would be crazy for advisors to assume that they can manage it all successfully without a system in place.

How can a CRM help?

Client management

A CRM goes above and beyond just storing client names and addresses. Advisors can capture important client demographic and financial information in one place. They can keep track of children’s names, birthdays and email addresses, as well as track when a client last called, a client’s feelings about the market, their love for theater, their job changes or any illnesses.  The possibilities are endless.  Think about how you feel when you walk in to do business, and somebody asks about your children by name and addresses your previous concerns.  It is all about showing clients that you are listening and that they matter.

Segmentation

Financial advisors can also segment clients and prospects by assets and communication intervals. This feature enables advisors to actively communicate with those who are higher net worth while ensuring that the lower net worth clients are not being ignored. A CRM can also set action steps for additional opportunities for future business such as life insurance, 529 plans, LTC, rollovers and reminders for future life events like birthdays, births, anniversaries and retirement.

Automation

A CRM can help advisors manage workflows to ensure tasks are communicated and completed. This feature can help them serve clients appropriately, by setting wealth levels to better define coinciding support such as contact intervals, meetings and key performance indicators.  The system’s parameters can also be adjusted based on the advisor’s and clients’ needs. In addition to that, processes like onboarding and meetings can be automated.

Prospect management

Imagine being able to set up prospects and track their information, schedule first meetings, send them appropriate marketing information and track how they heard about your financial advisory firm (website, email or referral).  Imagine being able to set up an action to thank the person that referred them. The CRM allows you to do all of these things without having to keep the information in your head, on scraps of paper or on a calendar.
What’s not to love about a CRM?

Price

There are CRM options that are designed specifically for financial advisors and offer a variety of service levels. These are  great tools for firms that already have an established client base, or for firms that want to get started with a solid foundation.

Red Tail
Grendel
Salesforce
Junxure

There are also several generic systems that are free, if you’re not ready to commit financially.

Zoho CRM
Asana
Streak

Time

Setting up a CRM is time-consuming, but well worth it. It may not be the best use of time for an independent advisor to be doing data entry, but if you have an assistant, assign them the task of inputting your contacts and set a goal for them every week. If you don’t have an assistant, hire a college intern to help. If neither are options, set aside a time block every week.  Though time can be scarce, investing a few hours when you can will surely pay off in the long run.

What should I ask myself when selecting?

  • Review all options to find the best fit for your firm. Most CRMs let you do a free introduction – take advantage of that.
  • Look for integration with other technology already in place like your calendar and email.
  • If you are transitioning systems, consider how complicated the import process will beFind out if the CRM has a team to assist you as you get started
  • Find out if the CRM has a team to assist you as you get started
  • Consider what report options the CRM provides

Like investing, a CRM is better utilized sooner rather than later.  Once you see a need to implement a CRM – do it. Measuring and valuing client relationships are critical to implementing this strategy and necessary for success in the financial industry.