The ClientWise Blog

Client Communication: Are you sending too much?

Posted by Chris Holman on Feb 14, 2013 10:50:00 AM


As a successful financial advisor, how do you determine the right amount of communication to provide to your clients?
Before you answer, let me lay a number on you.

3.6 zettabytes!

That’s how much information that the average American consumes (i.e. is exposed to) daily. 1 zettabyte is one billion trillion bytes. That’s a big number. Think of all the information in this blog. 3.6 zettabytes is this blog multiplied 100,000,000,000,000,000 times 

What do the kids say?

OMG!

As business coaches who serve the financial advisor community, we see a lot of different client communication approaches and strategies. Invariably, when it comes to how financial advisors determine what quantity of communication to send to each client, the MORE important the client, the MORE information they’ll receive.

Is this good? In other words, given the deluge of information that your best clients are bombarded with daily already…is more better?

Good, Better, Best?

What got us thinking about this was this thought-provoking article the other day by Nicole Coulter, “Do Clients Really Want More Communication?” The gist of the article tackles the client communication assumption that MORE IS BETTER. Indeed, she cites this recent Harvard Business Review study that found that the vast majority of consumers don’t want more frequent interaction with their service providers, and that they discount most of it as not being useful, except under narrow circumstances. (One of the revelations of the HBR study is that interactions don’t build relationships, shared values do! A shared value is a belief that both the brand and consumer have about a brand's higher purpose or broad philosophy.)

So…here’s a funny story. Years ago, I worked with a client on a panoply of client communication issues, including his avoidance of having direct communication with his clients. As a result of our relationship, my client signed me up to receive a weekly investment commentary from one of the major investment managers. I read the commentary every now and then. But here’s the thing. For reasons that I don’t know, my ex-client doesn’t return my phone calls. (I’m guessing it’s his old call avoidance pattern re-emerging.) Consequently, each and every time I receive the automatic investment commentary via email, I think to myself, “How ironic! I see this guy’s name every dang week with his ''personalized' email that he sends me, and this goofball doesn’t even call me back!”

Note to Self: You may want to check any lists where you are sending out automatic newsletters, commentary, etc. Some of those names may be kinda “stale”.

How Do Your Clients Learn?

How do your clients take in information anyway? How do they learn?

A learning style is the way that each of us extract information from our surroundings through our five senses. We each of different “pathways” that are specific to us. When information enters that “pathway” the information is retained as short-term memory.

For example, a print-oriented learner prefers to seeing printed or written words. An aural learner tends to remember and repeat ideas that are verbally presented. A visual learner likes visual stimuli such as pictures, slides, graphs, demonstrations, etc.

This begs the question. Is your client communication synched up to the learning styles of your clients? As an example, are you inundating your “aural learner” clients with emails, and assuming that they are assimilating your email communications as well as your “print oriented learner” clients?

Coaching Idea: Arrange to have all of your best clients tested for their preferred learning style. Have them complete a “learning styles inventory” {Here’s one example.} Be sure to take the inventory yourself, so that you will learn how to adapt your preferred learning style to that of your clients.

Concluding Thoughts

One important point. Data, without context, is just more noise.

This applies to all of your clients. Think about it. What is your value to your clients? As a data supplier? As a fount of dizzying facts and strategies that have no meaning, if not explained? Or as an interpreter, organizer, or advisor who can help your clients sort through the fusillade of information that comes their way?

If all your clients needed to make better financial choices were more information, then all of their problems and challenges would be solved. The information is out there already. 3.6 zettabytes each day.

So, when you consider your client communication strategies, maybe it’s time to test some of your old assumptions? All information is not the same. And more is not necessarily better.

 

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Topics: Client Engagement