A proactive approach to CRM is a departure from traditional, reactive behavior and aims to take early action that facilitates the desired result. Basically, giving clients what they want before they have to ask for it.
But not every firm can afford to be like Southwest Airlines and have a specialized and dedicated department they call “Proactive Customer Service Communications.” Or be fortunate enough to write an algorithm to digest, interpret, and automatically suggest appropriate next steps like Amazon or Netflix.
Right now, suggestions and recommendations work well for companies with subjective products like music and movies. However, customers might not be ready for recommendations in certain sectors. While recommending movies or music is not likely to be perceived as stalker-like behavior, offering healthcare or in our case financial information would raise some eyebrows.
So, as a Financial Advisor how do you leverage what you have at your disposal to change from reactive customer triage to proactive customer retention and satisfaction?
Using or creating a centralized database within your firm can be a great starting point.
Preferably a system that everyone has access to and can access from anywhere. Not just at their desk, where they have the latest version of that one Excel file. A CRM allows every employee from front to back office to compile and share their, often inherently tribal, customer knowledge.
Allowing you to use that collection of knowledge, data points, and relationship history notes to turn your communication strategy from reactive to proactive.
Proactive communication can mean a company reaching out about an issue that a customer might have. But it can also mean giving customers a myriad of ways to connect, based on their preferences or preferred method of communication, and making sure you respect their communication nuances when reaching out.
Are they a sales rep in and out of offices all day, work best through text messages they can respond to at will? Or perhaps a busy mom that needs to schedule time to talk during nap times.
Shift from Customer Support to Customer Success.
Customer Support is the reactive response to a request and generally has a start and endpoint.
For example, if a client asks a question about the best college savings/investment strategy for their newborn. You'll happily answer their question, maybe providing a few extra examples or tips then attempting to set them up an account or schedule a more comprehensive meeting. Most likely overwhelming them with information in a time when tension can be at an all-time high. When your client responds with some version of “maybe later” the interaction is now done. You both go your separate ways, with no one in a better off position.
Customer Success is far more proactive and involves reaching out to build relationships. The process often does not have a specific endpoint. But you are more likely to have milestones along the way.
Finding out your clients are expecting beforehand and putting proactive reminders in CRM to check-in on the wellbeing of future Mom and Dad prior to the birth. Then another reminder 3-weeks post-birth asking them to talk about savings or college funding options for their new bundle of joy once the baby has a social security number. And action can actually be taken. Or even offering instructions they can pass along to the Grandparents if they want to help fund such an account.
Both customer success and satisfaction have similar goals in helping customers interact with your firm. The big difference is that Customer Success focuses on long-term relationship building. You still might ‘solve a problem’ (i.e. provide support) as part of your success strategy but you’re playing the long game and this solution is just a milestone to the greater achievement of genuine customer satisfaction.
- Opt-in SMS chat
- Multi-channel contact
- Social Media Monitoring and Response
- Random Acts of Kindness
- Random offers
- Push Marketing
- Damage Control
So where’s the benefit in all of this? Being proactive cuts down on consumers’ time and efforts, thereby, improving the experience. Allowing you to get closer to clients, showcase your inherent value, and reduce churn.
Even if your firm doe not have the bandwidth to conduct these outreach efforts on a regular basis, a once-in-a-blue-moon proactive effort can boost employee morale and make a huge difference in the life of that customer.