The Key Difference Between Wanting & Receiving Referrals (and it’s not asking!)

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We talk a lot in the financial sphere about differentiators—what makes you unique? Why should a client choose you over another advisor? Taking this one step further, why would a current client recommend you to their friends and family? 

The answer is your client experience. 

The number one new business driver for financial professionals is referrals. And the number one way to generate referrals is not through asking, but as a result of the experience generated for clients. But are advisors even thinking of their client experience in this way? As being a revenue-generator?

In a research series conducted by Red Zone Marketing of over 2,000 financial advisors, we found that 51% of advisors received the same amount of referrals in 2020 as in 2019 and 33% of the top producers (over $800,000 in revenue) received MORE than in 2019.  

The difference? The commitment to the client experience which includes:

  • Communications: timely, interesting and valuable
  • Focus on the ease of doing business: virtual access and/or ease of transactions
  • An emotionally engaged client base: through proactive attention, strategies and solutions, personal connections including video calls, in-person meetings, phone calls or emails, and availability when they need you the most 
Bottom Line: Your biggest differentiator is your client experience (CX).

Now, as a marketing professional myself, I will be the first to attest to the fact that there are a number of different strategies you can employ to grow your client base. But, I’ll also be the first one to defend the client experience as one of the most powerful revenue-generating tools available to you.

So what does this mean for advisors in 2021? How do your numbers measure up to those provided in the Red Zone study mentioned earlier?

In order to maximize referrals, you’ve got to understand what comprises a great client experience and be able to reproduce that consistently over time. 

So what are the elements of a great client experience? 

1. Impeccable Onboarding

You need to have an onboarding process that “wows” every client who decides you are “the one.” This is a unique window of opportunity as new clients often give referrals in the first 6 months of the client relationship. This is also when clients are the most impressionable. They don’t want to feel forgotten once they’ve transferred their accounts over. 

2. Ease of Business 

Ask yourself with an objective eye, is it easy to do busines with you? Is your website set up for online scheduling? Can clients easily access their accounts online and do they know who to get a hold of (in multiple ways) for their major and minor questions? Do they have regularly scheduled meetings with you that they look forward to attending? 

These processes, procedures, and expectations are all part of the ease of doing business with you and are a cornerstone of the customer experience. 

3. A “Wow” Factor

We’ve all heard the saying that people don’t remember what you say, they remember how you make them feel. That’s the embodiment of the “wow” factor. What do you do for your clients that leaves a lasting impression on them? Perhaps you send flowers to a widow on the anniversary of her husband’s death or congratulate another on the birth of a first grandchild. 

Of course, the way you handle this will largely depend on your personality and your relationship style with your clients; but, make sure you are going above and beyond to personally and individually make your clients feel valued all year round, whatever that may look like. 

4. A Team Trained in Client Service

Is your team trained in client service? If you are not delivering exceptional service, it is either your process or your people. How do you know that a client is being handled the right way if you don’t teach your team how you’d like things done? Develop and implement best practices and standards for delivering client service for your firm. Then incorporate these into both the new hire onboarding training as well as ongoing professional development to ensure your clients are receiving the highest level of customer care. 

5. Celebrate and Reward Client Service Success 

One of the best ways to ensure your team is continuing to put client service at the forefront of their daily activities is by rewarding and celebrating their successes. When a client sends a compliment or a special thanks in response to great customer care, be sure to recognize the team or individual team member for their performance. Perhaps even offer them some type of reward to encourage that same service level in the future.  

There are so many different marketing strategies you could employ to grow your client base, however investing in a proactive, timely and warm customer experience is by far the most powerful marketing action you can take in 2021. This is what will set you apart and make you undeniably referrable. 

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