Relationships are paramount in business, service, and marketing. Estate planning may feel like it is in its own little niche, but in reality, it is in the professional services industry and cannot escape this trend. Building relationships with clients equates personalization, and this personalization is what ultimately leads to better referral sources and more consistent revenue from clients. According to Motista research, “Customers surveyed who had an emotional relationship with a brand had a 306 percent higher lifetime value, and recommended the company 71 percent of the time, compared to the 45 percent average” (Entrepreneur). While this data was surveyed for traditional retail, the principles still apply. Investing in relationships is indispensable.
One of this year’s marketing trends for professional services is personalization; 2019 is deemed “the year of personalization,” according to Marketing Insider Group. Mad Men marketing style and a hands-off approach to providing a professional service like estate planning is almost completely obsolete. The challenge, however, is that we can only manage a certain amount of relationships. That is why we are advocating to create an estate planning system designed around having a relationship with the client and not a transaction. The “limit the scope” of your representation lesson taught in law school to limit your liability does not serve a client who is looking for you to take care of their family when they die.
Relationships are the foundation of ongoing client care programs and investing in one opens the door for you to keep up with the shift in consumer preferences and bring in clients who value your services, are willing to pay for the added value you provide, and will refer more clients.
Don’t just take it from us about how investing in relationships and relationship marketing will boost your practice, below we summarize our favorite lessons from Forbes and Entrepreneur about what relationship marketing means and how it applies to your ongoing client care program.
One of the first things you will run into with your ongoing client care program and shift to relationships is that you are going to have to adopt a “willingness to polarize”. This means there will be times when you will have to turn away clients (or have those clients relegated to your “not best client” system) that are focused only on documents and are unconcerned with developing a relationship with you. You may feel a little leery of referring them out to a colleague (or relegating them to the “C” or “D” client category) at first, but ultimately you don’t want to dedicate most of your bandwidth to those that don’t value what you value. According to Entrepreneur, focusing on relationships requires you to deepen loyalty and interaction, which in turn requires authenticity. Standing out from the crowd by standing by your values will evoke “emotional resonance” with those that you strike a chord with, meaning these people want what you’re offering, an ongoing relationship and estate planning model that will take care of their families, and they are going to be loyal (refer back to the statistic we provided in the beginning!).
Another lesson from Entrepreneur, is the need to shift towards customer nurturing and thinking about the long-term value guarantee. While different in retail, when it comes to estate planning, establishing an ongoing client care program means no longer trying to drive in as many clients as possible, instead it is about quality clients over quantity, so you can truly nurture your relationships with them. Remember, an ongoing client care program means there is an annual price for each client for the services provided resulting in recurring revenue that you can count on. Being able to nurture clients means you will better able to concentrate on aligning, verifying and tracking assets, customizing estate plans, and making the process and outcome a personalized experience that perfectly fits the family dynamics of clients, their assets and their life situations. The long-term value guarantee you provide clients by helping them maintain their plans and delivering such personalization is peace of mind that their families will truly be taken care of at the time of death or incapacity. There’s no guarantee better for a client than knowing that in their absence their family is cared for.
The third lesson comes from Forbes: reorienting your practice around relationships through implementing an ongoing client care program means you can increase convenience and reduce anxiety for clients. Your client care program will save clients and their families time by simplifying/consolidating assets, meeting with the family members who will need to implement the plan and by having you and your team become their partner in doing so. By becoming their trusted advisor and educating them you help them easily navigate the estate planning process, and in turn reduce anxiety because clients feel they are making the best choices to protect and care for their families.
By creating a relationship based on going client care system you make relationships paramount and you will elevate your firm and gain success through your ongoing client care program, which means better clients who become great referral sources and the knowledge that you are truly taking care of your clients and their families.
Begin the journey to your ongoing client care program today! Email our Program Coordinator, Megan Davitt, to sign up for our Foundations Workshop and get started.