There are numerous philosophies regarding making contact with clients on an ongoing basis. Regardless of your position or methods, every practice needs a strategy for reaching out to clients throughout the year. This can be birthdays, anniversaries, financial reviews as well as sending relevant articles, get well cards and more.
Operationally, if you have clients outside of your local region, this can be a process exercise that includes your CRM system, calendaring, workflow and good old fashioned tools like cars, planes and trains.
Virtual meeting tools have been around for some time and have seen a significant uptick in light of the spending retraction most business has gone through in the past 18 months. There are several types and formats these tools come in that can be helpful to your practice for making the number of “touches” you seek with your clients.
For example, a practice in Utah also has offices in Hawaii and Wisconsin due to acquisitions. These three disparate locations runs very well and are profitable. Yet, the teams have consistently brought up issues with maintaining regular contact with clients as a challenge in light of growth. They are a perfect candidate for some of the virtual tools noted here.
These tools break down, in my view, into three broad categories
Getting started, we will look at simple communications. There are a number to tools available in this space, and I will mention only a small sample. These tools offer some level of integration with CRM systems (or exports out of CRM) to populate mailing addresses and email addresses. These solutions are predominantly used to send out postcards, e-newsletters or targeted links to relevant online content for all, some or a filtered number of your clients.
NOTE: There is a sub-group to this category that includes social networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media instruments. These offer an instantaneous method for communicating with clients. However, they are still viewed somewhat skeptically in financial services due to a lack of archival and management tools to provide regulatory comfort. Don’t get me wrong - I am a fan of social media tools - but also keenly aware that users need a proven and user-friendly method for remaining compliant with electronic communications guidelines that is not quite mature as of today.
As with any client communications, insure your use of these tools has been reviewed by your compliance principal.
The application of these tools can contribute to your goal of extending your reach to your clients without increasing the number of phone calls, travel and face to face meeting required.
This is not a move to reduce the depth or strength of your relationships with your clients, but perhaps open up opportunities to reach out individually or to segments with tools that offer that flexibility.
For example - the Utah practice wanted to accomplish three specific steps with clients each year in addition to the physical meetings they hold with each family they work with.
The practice was able to achieve these three goals by utilizing Send Out Cards, YouSendIt and the ShareThis service.