The reality of what you do as a financial planner is ultimately that of servicing your clients. You take the time to understand their situation and help them achieve their financial dreams. Yes, there is a lot of technical understanding and vast knowledge behind what you do, but at the end of they day, customer service and client experience is a make or break.
Client experience is such a critical aspect of your business because it is one of the more direct ways in which your clients perceive the value that you bring to their lives. Finding a way to rate/measure that experience is important for (1) providing the best service you possibly can for your clients and (2) the future success of your firm.
The big question...
How can I rate my client experience?
There are a lot of ways that you can go about rating your client experience. Below are some tips/ideas that you can take action on towards rating your client experience so that you can proactively begin to improve it.
Ask Your Clients This sounds almost too easy, but it is probably the most effective way to rate your client experience. Asking for feedback from your clients on their experience working with you is a great way to gauge how well you are servicing them. Depending on how you want to go about it, you can keep it informal and bring it up in conversation when you meet with them. However, what we recommend is sending them a short survey that covers different aspects of your client experience. You can create a user-friendly survey through Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, Wufoo, or any other survey/form app out there. You might want to ask questions about their satisfaction on meeting their expectations with how your team/you respond to their calls, e-mails, or text messages. You can also survey questions about the usefulness of resources that you have provided them such as their financial plan (we'll touch on this more below), portfolio reports, market updates, e-mail newsletters, blog posts, social media posts, e-books, book and article recommendations, and any other resources that you offer. Finally, try to get specific with questions related to your onboarding or client review process. As an example, maybe you think that your clients love face-to-face client reviews. However, what if they would prefer meeting via Zoom, GoToMeetings, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, etc. so that they can more casually meet with you and avoid the headache of traffic. You'd never know unless you asked!
Pay Attention Again, this one seems like common sense, but we often aren't always aware as much as we should during the day-to-day hustle and bustle. To get a better gauge on your client experience, take note on the subtle interactions that your clients have with you/your team. For example, if you give a client a 50-page financial plan and see them a few weeks later as a follow-up/recap, what pages out of that plan do they bring back with them for that next meeting? Do they bring everything and have questions or positive reactions on pages 1 - 50, or do they come back with 1 - 2 pages and mark-ups only on those pages? This will give you a better idea of whether or not the resources that you have provided are of value to your clients. This is just one example, however, this level of awareness can be applied to many other aspects of your client experience.
Get Technical Another way to measure your client experience is to start getting technical by tracking as much data as you can. We recommend starting at a basic level before jumping full-force ahead simply because it can get overwhelming for your team/you. Start small by keeping track of client referrals and setting goals to improve year-by-year. If a client refers you to a friend, you better believe that you are servicing them well. Another piece of data that could be important is technology adoption. Figure out what percentage of your clients are actively engaging with the different technology software/apps that you offer and make a plan to improve adoption over time. This specific piece of data could lead to many different outcomes, such as (1) changing your technology because clients do not find it of value, (2) parting ways with clients that are not willing to adopt technology (causing more work for your team/you), or (3) offering a educational seminar to clients in order to get more adoptability. You can also start tracking how often you communicate with clients via e-mail, phone, in-person, mailers, thank-you cards, or other digital touches. You may realize that you communicate more with some clients and less with others. Alternatively, you may find that you aren't being as proactive in communicating with your clients as you'd intended for your exceptional client experience. With compiling the data, you will have numbers to track and improve upon. Finally, with the surveys mentioned earlier in the article, if you land on a list of questions that are important to you, you can send the survey out consistently (for example, quarterly, or bi-annually) in order to build up your client experience data.
In order to serve your clients in the best way possible, it is important to continually improve upon your client experience. At the end of the day, you are in the business of building deep relationships and helping your clients achieve their financial dreams. Customer service and client experience is at the center of all of that. In addition, if you have all of the technical know-how but fail at servicing your clients by not meeting their needs or expectations, you will be out of clients in no-time. Therefore, keeping a strong pulse and awareness on rating your client experience should be a no-brainer for you. Hopefully the tips above will help you in figuring out how you'd like to rate your firm's client experience. If you have any questions or need help with building out your client experience rating tool, please do not hesitate to contact Nifty.