After speaking with many advisers, one of the main areas of concern, is the ability to handle the compliance requirements around the customer renewal process. In some cases, I find some advisers actively looking to sell off their books with the view that they can just focus on getting new clients. I struggle with this strategy for two reasons. Surely your existing clients are your best connection to the market for referrals and cross selling opportunities and secondly selling off unmanaged customers carries a compliance liability for the buyer.
We see the renewal process as an opportunity to strengthen the customer relationship through providing a positive customer experience whilst managing compliance risk, saving you time and generating potential leads through referrals. Ultimately this process adds to the advisers book value.
So what in particular does the renewal process focus on?
Well, managing the renewal process for a small number of clients is fine using manual systems. You might set a task of calling each client, sending an email for a review meeting and actively recording all the customer interactions in a spreadsheet or your CRM. Now try and expand this to 500 or over 10,000 customers. Combine this with the fact that you may want to treat some customers in a more personalised fashion whilst managing others with different meeting options such as a call, web meeting or face-to-face meeting, then the process of managing these tasks quickly becomes overwhelming and can also escalate your compliance risk.
Automation tools allow you to manage this process and scale up without needing to add significant resource.
In addressing the renewal process, these are the areas you should look to automate:
1: Break your customers into groups starting from your premium clients through to your general clients. This will allow you to decide how best you deal with each customer group. Then you can see how you can communicate the renewal process at the same time as you work out the potential time commitment against each group e.g. the premium group may involve the setting up of a one-on-one review meeting, whilst other groups may be best suited to a call back, for the review.
2: Decide what communication channel is appropriate for each group e.g. some may be via Email, Mail, Text or direct phone calls. Automation can play a critical part in a multi-channel communication strategy e.g. systems can use text messaging in the case of an email failing or not being available. Using text, you can send a client a message directly to their mobile and through a simple link, get the customer to update their new email address and preferred communication method.
3: Automate timed events. Tracking events such as when an email renewal request was sent, opened and interacted with, gives you an ability to decide how you can best to take action to save time. This allows you to provide a greater customer experience, e.g. if you send out an email and it is not responded to within a defined timeline, you can fall-back to an SMS message or add the customer to a phone follow-up call list.
4: Track all interactions. Make sure that your systems are recording all customer communications and interactions. Part of the new FMA requirements is that you can demonstrate that you are engaging and providing value to your customers. In an audit, this will require that you demonstrate and provide evidence, so it is important that you put these processes in place.
5: Marketing Automation Tools. We recommend that you look for automation tools that are integrated into your existing CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. The more streamlined the information flow, the easier your systems are to manage. No one wants to be updating information in multiple places. The implementation of these processes and systems will not only save you time but will also provide a better customer experience whilst reducing your compliance risk.
By Damian McDonald CEO Advisor Promoter