Client Call Schedule Getting You Down?

A common complaint that I hear from advisors is that they are always behind on their client call schedules.

At the beginning of the year, they committed to a specific number of calls (or “touches”) per client. Often that number comes from a formula they heard from a “guru” that they’ve built into their client segmentation plan.

The problem is that the call schedule has become a real burden – difficult to stay on top of and a major source of stress as advisors go home each day with a growing list of uncompleted calls.

Why is that? Here are three reasons:

  1. The expectations were unrealistic. If you arbitrarily assigned weekly or monthly calls to clients based solely on the level of assets they have with you, you may be guilty of overkill. This is especially likely to be the case, if you were simply going by a formula that may have made sense in an era of transactional business, but is no longer relevant in a planning-focused, investment advisory business model.
  2. For the calls that you do make, you haven’t set phone appointments in advance or blocked time on your calendar. So you’re trying to fit them in between client appointments, business meetings and all the other demands on your time.
  3. You have no plan for what to talk about with your clients. There are few things worse than having to pick up the phone for an unscheduled and unplanned for conversation. What are you going to say that will be meaningful?

Is there a better way? Yes, and here are my recommendations:

  1. At the beginning of your client relationship, determine what you believe is an appropriate expected interval between interactions. Then have that conversation with your clients. You might explain that, based on their situation, you expect to have 1 or 2 (or whatever it is) progress review meetings each year. In addition to that, you’ll schedule phone appointments with them as appropriate. Or, if something comes up that they believe warrants a phone call or meeting, you will be happy to schedule time for that.
  2. Track your one-on-one client meetings and phone calls in your contact management system or on a spreadsheet. Make sure that you’re able to track your last interaction with your client, and total interactions in a given time frame.
  3. In addition to scheduled meetings and calls, track your other one-on-one interactions, such as email exchanges, inbound calls, and special occasion cards & notes. This will give you the full picture of your client communications.
  4. Finally, make sure you also have a good assortment of one-to-many interactions. These can include holiday cards, newsletters and client educational and social events.
  5. Now you can determine which clients you might want to reach out to for some extra attention.

Enjoy your clients. Don’t let contacting them become a chore. Isn’t that the major reason you became an advisor or planner?

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