Develop an Effective Client Communication Strategy
A client communication strategy streamlines collecting client feedback, determining key workflows for regular check-ins, and encouraging client engagement. And it’s a common denominator of high-growth advisory firms.
According to Nitrogen’s 2023 Growth Survey, high-growth firms rank client communication as a priority more so than low-growth firms. They also consider regular client meetings and client personalization as critical for growth.
But today, effective communication is more than answering the phone and making a call. And manually calling or writing personalized emails is not sustainable if you want to scale your firm.
Thus, many advisory firms can tap into growth by optimizing their client communication.
Taking Stock of Your Communication Capacity
There’s no question that client communication is essential for success. But the question is whether or not your strategy is scalable in the long term.
Communication isn’t a quick task, particularly if you have dozens of clients. For growing firms with multiple advisors, communication becomes even more complex. Should all your advisors maintain the same brand tone? Should they be given room for their own personas?
Yet, if you want to reduce client turnover while facilitating growth, finding time and resources for effective client communication is mandatory. Without it, clients may feel like a number—and start looking for a new advisor.
Before anything else, it’s important to consider your communication capacity. In other words, how often can you realistically take per week to communicate with clients? Ideally, you could take stock of how much time you spend on communicating, what tools you use, and client reactions to it. This will enable you to better map out your strategy.
Once your process is mapped and you know your initial commitment, you can develop a stronger client communication strategy.
Top Tips for an Effective Client Communication Strategy
Empathy should be the foundation of a communication plan. Anticipating clients’ needs, concerns, and questions makes it easier to draft a solid communication workflow and build strong relationships.
Centering empathy is also known to accelerate growth. One study by the Harvard Business Review found that the top 10 most empathetic companies generated 50% more earnings than the bottom ten companies.
Follow Communication Preferences
It’s helpful to consider how your clients prefer to be connected. Not everyone wants a phone call or has time for a face-to-face meeting. Video calls, pre-recorded videos, emails, and text messages are good alternatives.
Communication is also a two-way street. It’s essential to have a clear channel for clients to contact you. Again, email, virtual calendars, and your phone number are typically the main modes. However, you may also want to consider automation solutions, such as live chats, that can answer simple questions about your firm—including how they can book an appointment, opening hours, and your services.
Personalize Whenever Possible
Another key component is personalization, or ensuring each communication is tailored to specific clients. The challenge is that many forms of personalization aren’t scalable.
For example, calling a client twice a month for a 10-minute update is easily one of the most personalized communication methods. But it’s incredibly time-consuming and challenging to continue as you grow.
However, there are other ways to personalize communications, such as:
- Using client’s names in emails, even general emails sent to all clients
- Sending curated content relevant to client interests (updates on IRA contributions to individuals saving for retirement)
- Financial plans and reports with unique scenarios specific to clients’ portfolios and concerns.
A tool like Nitrogen’s Check-ins enables advisors to communicate in a way that is both scalable and personalized. Check-ins is an automated communication feature that allows the advisor to take the pulse of clients and receive an early warning sign if a client’s psychology needs a little care.
Build a Seamless Tech Stack
Next, you’ll want to consider what tools you will use. Your communication tech stack should be intuitive for both your advisors and your users. Challenging or overly complicated tools can be cumbersome to use and waste more time.
Ideally, you should also be able to integrate these tools with your other advisor software. Centralizing data and connecting communications with your CRM or portfolio management platform has a few benefits. First, it makes auditing a cinch. Second, this setup makes it easier for advisors to review specific client concerns. And finally, your software may make prioritizing check-ins based on client information easier.
When selecting communication software, a collection of best-of-breed tools ensures you’re getting the top performance in each specific area, whereas all-in-one solutions might compromise on certain functionalities to provide a broader range of features. To achieve a seamless tech stack, find the best software in each category that integrates together.
Decide on Communication Frequency
How often will you communicate with clients? The frequency depends on how you are contacting them.
Let’s take email, for example. In this case, less isn’t more. Thirty-three percent of marketers send weekly emails, although this may initially appear challenging. You’ll want to send a message at least once a month or quarter. Typically, emails are the best mode for general communications, client feedback surveys, and other general updates.
However, when looking at phone calls and one-on-one meetings, determining the regularity can be more complex. Considering each client has a different risk tolerance and communication style, some may require more attention than others. In addition to annual reviews, it’s important to prioritize client communication needs and schedule additional meetings when necessary. But during a downturn, you may need to allot more time and resources to your communication plan. Nitrogen Check-ins can help you identify which clients need more personalized care, and which don’t.
Whatever frequency you choose, it should be regular. Inconsistent communication will keep clients guessing and will negatively affect engagement.
Track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
It’s impossible to track and optimize the effect of your client communication on retention if data isn’t tracked and analyzed. Luckily, many platforms offer client communication management modules that include data.
For example, your email marketing platform may include how many recipients have opened your email or where they have clicked. A client communication tool that includes automated check-ins, such as Nitrogen, may also provide insight into which accounts require immediate attention.
You can use clicks, opens, and several calls to gauge how often you communicate with clients. You can also look at the average resolution time – a metric to determine how quickly you or your team resolve client questions. Tracking client satisfaction can also give you better insight into the client experience.
Analyze Time Spent on Client Communication
How much time can you realistically spend per day or week? Setting realistic expectations enables you to be consistent—which is just as important as frequency.
Effective communication shouldn’t take hours or days. And much of it can be automated.
For example, some general messages in your communication plan can be automated:
- Meeting reminders
- Reminder to book a call
- Client feedback surveys
- Check-in questions
- Mass email updates about the general market
Reducing time spent on repetitive, low-impact but necessary messages can help you free up more minutes for other important tasks.
Draft a Communication Policy
For growing firms with multiple advisors, a communication policy is vital. This streamlines the process and builds the firm’s reputation, not just the single advisor.
For most businesses, communication policies are a part of their brand guidelines. But while 85% of organizations say they have developed brand guidelines, only 30% said they can enforce them. Complex rules are challenging to enforce within a small firm, and the larger your operation grows, the harder it is to ensure that advisors stay on brand. Furthermore, attempting to regulate an individual’s communication skills can add unnecessary friction between the firm and its advisors.
It’s better to balance communication policies and rules with individual advisor personalities and communication skills. Too much structure creates a general, robotic voice that doesn’t sound like your specific advisors, and this can throw off clients. It can also decrease personalization.
Differentiate Between Client vs. Prospect Communication
Next, there are two types of communication: clients and prospective clients. And the communication styles should be distinct.
Clients have already decided to work with you or your firm. The emphasis becomes client satisfaction and a strong relationship.
But for a prospect, good communication revolves around answering questions about your practice, highlighting your value, and learning more about the prospect’s needs.
Effective client communication should go far deeper than it is for prospects.
Client communication management is the foundation of all other client engagement initiatives. Once you have a strong communication plan, it’s easier to move on to other strategies to keep clients engaged and loyal to your firm.
Learn more strategies in our recent article on client engagement.