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Keeping clients through good and bad times – Part 2

08 October 2021 Myra Knoesen

In part one of this article Andrew Beattie, author of ‘Keeping Clients Through Good And Bad Times’ listed three recommendations to keep clients happy in either good times or bad.

In part two of the article Beattie hilghlights the remaing three recommendations and the secret to keeping clients.

Some recommendations

Here are the recommendations according to Beattie:

  • Be candid - When markets are roaring and business is booming, there is no shortage of professionals ready to take personal credit for success. Oddly enough, economic conditions are usually blamed when the markets turn bearish. Shifting blame and making weak excuses is the specialty of pro-athletes caught doping, and the infiltration of this attitude into financial services is troubling. People with the integrity to take responsibility for their mistakes - whether truly market-induced by some black swan event or a personal mistake - may suffer initial client backlash, but most people will appreciate the honesty.
  • Be organised - It seems counterintuitive, but a person must standardise his or her approach to client maintenance to give personalised service. Getting organised frees up the time needed to tailor your services for each client's needs. Every profession has a natural cycle. Accountants, like dentists, generally see clients once a year, whereas a financial adviser or broker might be dealing with clients on a quarterly, monthly, or even daily basis. It is important to commit a regular amount of face time/phone time to each client within every cycle - and to take notes on the meeting. Keeping a client file containing notes from previous meetings is an invaluable way to track how your client's concerns are changing over time. This, in turn, helps you to customise your approach and recognise patterns before they become larger issues. There doesn't always have to be a purpose to a follow-up. Simply checking in on how your client is doing, wishing a happy birthday/holiday, or asking about a matter previously discussed might only be a five-minute conversation, but it has a cumulative effect over time. Setting a standard that you maintain for each client - a certain amount of follow-up, time commitment, etc - will help you figure out how much business you should be handling. Having lots of business is only good if you can process it all. If you're swamped and doing a sub-par job to keep up, your clients, old and new, suffer.
  • Create a natural network - Even professionals who survive through referrals often under-use their personal network. Knowing what businesses your clients are in and what type of clients they work with can help you in building a referral network. Despite massive leaps in technology, many clients are still gained through word of mouth. People usually ask their friends and associates for advice on a good lawyer, insurance broker, real estate agent, and so on. By maintaining a high level of organisation and contact with your clients, you'll be a natural choice when one of their friends is seeking a referral. 

The bottom line
The secret to keeping clients is to be consistent. You can always do things such as increasing your services or offering discounts, to attract more business during hard times.

However, you need to set a minimum standard that never wavers - even when inflows of new clients tempt you to short-change established ones. Ultimately, professional integrity means being consistent during all economic conditions.

 

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