It is a turbulent time for the financial services industry. From the financial crash in 2008 to the pension reforms brought in this year, there are a large number of factors that could leave a potential client with little trust in the industry.
This is where your customer service comes in. With the possible Bank of England base rate rise, the housing crisis and unpredictable changes in inflation, a client is going to want, above all, an adviser they can trust. How do you build trust? Exceptional customer service.
Recent research from intelligence consulting firm, Walker, has found that the experience a customer has will overtake price and product when choosing goods or services four years from now. With 66% of consumers switching service providers due to bad service, it is now more important that ever to hone your customer service skills and ensure you are using them to their best ability.
There are four key aspects to providing the best customer service you can.
Directly or indirectly, implicitly or explicitly, the way in which you communicate with your clients and potential clients should be at the forefront of you business, constantly.
A report from Nottingham University called “Customer Satisfaction, Loyalty and Retention in Financial Services” shows that pricing structures in financial services are often poorly understood by clients. This could be linked to lack of strong communication. It is your job to guarantee that your client understands what is happening to their money, and as you know, you must make sure they are aware of exactly what they are agreeing to do. There can be dire consequences if you cut corners here, for you and your client’s future. Communication is the key to this-you must try to help your customer understand, and never just assume that they do.
The same report also shows how financial services need to be aware of customer satisfaction-business owners must be conscious that many customers might not complain to you following a service failure or breakdown, but instead may spread the news via word of mouth, or may simply drop your services. Always be aware of how your customer is feeling by using communication. Ask how they feel the process is going, find out if they would like to make any kind of changes, and constantly check if they are happy with the decisions made and the actions taken.
For a customer to be able to open up to you and build a rapport you must use communication effectively and you must develop your social skills until they up to the required standard. Just like any other kind of skill, some people will naturally be able to strike up a conversation and win the trust of a potential client, and some people might struggle with even basic social skills. Again, just like any other skill, practise makes perfect.
As you work in a business where you come into contact with the public often, you will need to work on both your verbal and non verbal communication skills. With non verbal, you need to have a keen grasp of how your body language is interpreted by other people. Eye contact, an open stance (no crossed arms), posture and facial expressions can say so much about your emotional state, attitude towards the listener, knowledge of the topic and honesty. Ask a friend or colleague to monitor how you speak to different clients, and work on your trouble spots. Do you keep your head down? Speak with a timid voice? Talk too quickly? A third party will find it much easier to pick up on these points than you will. Practise speaking to your clients with friends or colleagues- there is no such thing as too much preparation.
With regards to verbal social skills, even though each client is different, almost every client you have is going to want to feel like they are the only client you have. Explain to them what you are going to do for them and why, and what you are expecting the outcome to be and how it relates to them. Remember, a conversation is a two way street, try to encourage your client to talk to you. Find out things you can speak to them about the next time you see them, details about their family or their profession.
Social media has become one of the biggest forms of communication and advertisement in the world, in the past 5 years. If you company does not have a social media presence-make one. 72% of internet users are now on at least one form of social media.
You can use social media to improve your customer service in many ways. You can maintain your brand presence, communicate with established clients, keep them updated, and make it so much easier for them to contact you.
LinkedIn can be an irreplaceable resource when it comes to connecting with people within your industry, and often clients may feel more comfortable connecting over LinkedIn. Set up and personal profile (if you don’t already have one) as well as a page for your company.
Social media does not come without its potential risks, but theses can be avoided by responsible use. There are certain things everyone must remember, when using social media. On many social media platforms, everything you post is public and can be seen by anyone. If a client is trying to talk to you about their personal finance matters, try and get them to talk over email or private message, somewhere people cannot see their information.
There are also strict Financial Conduct Authority regulations you must follow when using social media. Even if you are speaking to a client one on one through a private message, the regulations still apply.
Never underestimate the power of customer loyalty. Attracting a new customer costs a business 6 to 7 times as much as retaining one, and a 10% increase in customer retention levels can result in a 30% increase in the value of the company. Once you gain your customers loyalty and trust, they spend on average 10 times as much as a new customer.
If it works for your business, you may benefit from offering some kind or loyalty or reward scheme. 65% of customers would like shops to frequent them with offers and promotions, but that can be applied to other types of companies as well. Recommend a friend schemes can show an existing customers opinion is valued while attracting new customers.
Request regular customer feedback about your business. Make them feel like they are valued and their contribution is important. If you can make your client really feel like they are part of a community, they are less likely to seek business elsewhere.
Make the difference
These are the four key areas you can start working on today to improve your customer service. The smallest actions can sometimes have the biggest impact, and by dealing with clients that little bit differently, you can really stand out from the crowd.
Clients who trust you and enjoy their experience with you will be more likely to drive referrals and use your services for future needs. As financial advice is a service people will need throughout their whole life, this can be absolutely invaluable to your business.