You already have loyal clients.

    But by focusing on enhancing their experience, this can lead to an increase in recommendations to their family and friends, more positive reviews, and generally greater business opportunities.

    In his INBOUND19 keynote address, Hubspot chief executive Brian Halligan talked about ‘experience disruptors’.

    It’s not so much the product or service that adds value and sets you apart, but the whole experience itself - from the first time someone hears about your reputation, to meeting you, to becoming a client and enjoying a long-term relationship.

    The question is, how does a financial planning firm ‘change up’ to give clients a unique and compelling experience?

    Be different. Be better

    You’ll know that first impressions count, and many financial planners make sure they deliver confidence to their clients as soon as they walk through the door.

    For instance, they might have a dedicated parking space next to the front door, followed by custom-made signage welcoming them to the office.

    When you think of your introductory meeting, what is that initial experience like? Is it simply an email with directions, or something more interesting and engaging?

    We often play it too safe in our profession. I see very few firms doing something different, and yet different is good: it sets you apart.

    But I've also come across planning firms who are doing this well, who send out books such as ‘How will you measure your life?’ by Clayton Christensen, as well as other interesting items such as knives, cactus plants and even socks!

    This is all done as part of the onboarding process. It’s different and what's more, it provides the client with a better, more memorable experience.

    Communicate on their terms

    Communication is key to a long-term relationship - merely assuming that younger clients always want electronic communication and older clients want print would be missing the point.

    What clients of all ages really want is the ability to choose how they communicate, and the flexibility to apply different choices to different types of communication.

    With this in mind, consider changing your content format; find your voice and be different. It’s great to see planners launching their own podcasts and increasing their use of video.

    Of course, age can still a considerable barrier to the use of digital services.

    The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that 95 per cent of adults aged 16 to 74 years in the UK in 2018 were recent internet users, the third highest in the EU. However, this figure dropped to 47 per cent for adults aged 75 and over.

    Successfully combining all methods of communication in client interaction will give all clients choices. It makes sure they have a consistent and positive experience, differentiates you from competitors, and positively impacts client retention and referral rates.

    Making sure each communication is personalised means paying close attention to what makes your clients tick. For example, follow them on social media, react to their successes and their updates and send them Christmas and birthday cards.

    Make things simple

    Clients don’t like complexity, yet firms still insist (mostly) on sending out complex reports and review documentation.

    One of the most successful firms I know provides the client with an annual four-page plan with only a few words and a focus on graphics and illustrations, and client feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Clients like an effortless and simple experience.

    If firms are going to set themselves apart, they have to spend time and resources on client experience mapping. 

    At every interaction, consider how the experience can be made simpler, more engaging and more personalised, not forgetting the aim of being that little bit different!

    Overall, the experience your clients receive at every interaction can have a significant impact on their enthusiasm to refer.

    Today’s world is very connected, and social media enables word of mouth in the blink of an eye. Don’t ignore the opportunity that comes with changing up the client experience.

    The relentless pursuit of adding value to the client can pay dividends. As such, the experience your clients receive should always be front and centre.

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