It was 2005 and our financial planning firm had 600 clients. We used alphabetized index cards to ensure consistent client outreach.
Each morning, the receptionist would pull five cards and sort them into our message bins. Those were the five clients who would get a personal phone call for no specific reason. We just wanted them to know we cared.
This was our version of automation.
TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED EVERYTHING
Back in 2005, true automation had not taken hold in our industry. The adviser technology landscape was much smaller than it is today. Advisers weren’t convinced that client appointments and communication could all be managed online.
Since that time, technology has transformed how advisers interact with their clients. Now we can:
• Interact with clients in new spaces instantly via social media.
• Advertise for free (or cost-efficiently) online.
• Send mass emails at the click of a button.
• Automate processes that used to take hours by hand.
Whether you’re interested in automation or not, there’s no denying that scaling your practice means providing world-class service to more clients with less effort.
‘HELLO, MY NAME IS AUTOMATION.’
This is where automation becomes your best friend. When you use automation to build out and supplement your client experience, you:
• Create consistency that clients will rave about.
• Show your clients that you value them.
• Keep important dates and tasks from falling through the cracks.
• Save time, energy, and resources.
• Increase your own personal freedom.
• Improve profitability.
The more you automate, the greater these benefits are.
While there are a number of ways advisers can incorporate automation into their business — from payroll to task management to review scheduling and marketing — this article will focus on one specific area: onboarding new clients.
In my last article for InvestmentNews, I laid the foundation for why automation is critical advisers for advisers who want to serve more clients without sacrificing their client experience.
As we all know, the first year with a new client is essential. This is our best window of opportunity to create strong first impressions that lay the foundation for a meaningful, long-term (hopefully multigenerational) relationship.
Consider how something as simple as email automation can help with this.
1. The friendly welcome email. Within 24 hours of when someone becomes a client, a personal email shows up in their inbox from their new financial adviser.
I know you just joined us as a client and I already welcomed you verbally, but I wanted to drop this brief note to say “Welcome!” and let you know how grateful I am to be working with you.
I’m not able to accept everyone as a client, but having the privilege to work with people like you is what gets me up in the morning and makes what I do so rewarding.
Open, two-way communication is a cornerstone of how we do business, so you’ll be hearing from us regularly in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
My door (and phone and inbox) is always open to you, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with your thoughts, questions, or concerns at any time.
Thank you sincerely for trusting us with your financial future. It is truly an honor to serve you!”
If you feel so inclined, you might even offer them your personal cell phone number and ask them to reach out if they need anything at all. Of course, you don’t have to hand out your actual cell number. The number you provide could run to a text app, your CRM or a go-between line that filters your calls.
2. The seven-day follow-up email. One week into the relationship, clients could automatically receive a follow-up email containing firm resources, instructions on how to log into the online client portal, or who to contact for general questions. This is also an opportune time to set expectations about when they can expect account statements or where to find answers to commonly asked questions.
3. The follow us on social message. Why not automate an email that lets your new clients know you’re active on social media? Inform them that this is where you often post about upcoming events, breaking financial news and other announcements.
Make sure to include links to all your social media handles, so it’s simple for them to click over and follow you. You may even mention that you’d like to follow them back and ask for their handles too.
4. The 60-day follow-up message. The purpose of this email is to let clients know that they are still a priority even though the “honeymoon” phase of onboarding may have ended.
Your message could look something like this:
“Wow! It sure is hard to believe two months has passed since we started working together. This is just a friendly check in to see how you’re doing.
Is there anything I can do for you today?”
Trying to do this manually will only result in a hit or miss experience — plus it will take a lot of time. But with automation, you can always be confident that every client is receiving the same, high-quality experience.
5. The survey and referral email. Another great idea is to send each client a survey about 90 to 180 days after they start working with you. This can be used to ask for feedback and open the door for referrals.
Questions you might ask include:
• How would you rate your experience working with us?
• Do you have any needs or questions we can assist you with?
• Can you think of anyone who would benefit from our services?
These are just a few examples. You will likely come up with even more ideas for gathering feedback and making sure your clients know you appreciate their feedback and are there for them — and anyone they’d like to introduce to you and your firm.
SCALING A WORLD-CLASS EXPERIENCE
Beyond the new client welcome sequence, there are many other automations that can help you scale a world class experience: Client anniversaries. Acts of kindness. Milestones. Births. Graduations. Retirements. Required minimum distributions. Reviews.
It may take a little time to set these up in the beginning, but the long-term time savings grow exponentially.
Great service doesn’t happen by accident. It is built with care and clients in mind, and it is maintained through the power of automation.
Robert Sofia is CEO and one of three co-founders of Snappy Kraken, a marketing solution for financial professionals.
As our second lead editor, Cindy Hamilton covers health, fitness and other wellness topics. She is also instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. Cindy received a BA and an MA from NYU.