1. Establish a human connection
“You can be informal and still be professional,” says Theodore. Ultimately you’re one person talking to another. “Reminding a client they’re dealing with a human being helps break down a barrier,” she says.
2. Be sensitive to your client’s comfort zone
On average, 78% of Australians between 14 to 65 have internet access at home, but age is still the greatest barrier to using digital services.
But less than half of all Australians aged 65 and over have a home internet connection – but that doesn’t mean they’re not engaging with online services.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 65% of Australian men and more than 40% of Australian women use internet banking services.
With the increasing emphasis on digital communication it’s important to survey older clients to make sure you’re engaging with them effectively.
3. Leverage your company brand
The company you represent has its own style and brand ethos. Use it to your advantage. If your business is about trust and dependability, use language that reflects this, such as “consistent” and “reliable”. Likewise, if excitement and breaking barriers is what you want to emphasis, reflect this in the words you choose. Words like “groundbreaking” and “pace-setting”, for example.
4. Understand communication channels… and when to use them
Technology unlocks new ways of communicating, but traditional avenues are still good options. Below is a list of ways to contact clients, with benefits and recommended use of each:
Cost-effective, scaleble and targeted, but it’s important to achieve the right tone in the message and include a clear “call to action”.
Direct mail (DM)
More expensive than email, but has the advantage of deeper penetration and greater uptake than eDM. Ideal for educational information.
Save these for times when a simple response is required.
For face-to-face interaction. Slides should be visually interesting and reinforce the words spoken by the adviser, not repeat them.
When a client or potential client has clicked through to your website via eDM, banner ad, promotion button or DM, make sure you keep their attention with a clear purpose and “call to action”.
Animated video is ideal for demonstrating how to use a new service or explaining the revised steps in a company process, for example. In addition to this, video case studies using testimonials can add credibility to the benefits of a product or service. Both options are expensive, however when cleverly realized, video communications can be extremely effective and worth the investment.
These are usually reviewed thoroughly and present an opportunity to include a personal or campaign specific message.
5. Prioritize quality over quantity
Ask plenty of questions when you meet a client, to gain a clear understanding of their goals. Armed with this knowledge, you can provide targeted communications that address their concerns, and requirements, specifically. “You often see an adviser putting their own tone and way of thinking into the way they write and that can immediately put off every person who doesn’t feel the same way. It’s not a safe approach,” says Theodore.
6. Use your marketing team wherever possible
Marketing staff are trained to deliver company communications that are on message. Run your intended communications by them to ensure its compliant and includes the most up-to-date information.
7. Add a personal touch
When a client feels understood by their adviser, the relationship can flourish. “People really place value on a handwritten note,” says Theodore. “Send them a report with a handwritten note, and it can strengthen a relationship.” Likewise, knowing a client’s interest in a certain area and sending them relevant information will reinforce the knowledge that you’re invested in them. Such bespoke communication is unlikely to be badly received.
8. Use your knowledge to everyone’s advantage
An adviser is in the unique position to judge how best to engage with clients. Only the adviser knows which client will be receptive to highly technical, data-driven analysis and who would prefer their communication in layman’s terms.
9. Follow up promptly
Lastly, it’s vital to close the loop on communication with clients. A considered follow-up email, written in thoughtful sentences, is likely to be better received than a list of bullet points. Likewise, a short handwritten note on top of printed material will land better than a volley of non-relevant information communicated via email.
If you carefully select the most appropriate channel, hone your messaging skills, and carefully consider your client needs, your communication skills will significantly improve.