Touchpoints? Enhance your client experience

Increasing touchpoints with clients can sound jargon-like but the intention is to enhance the client relationship experience; meet client needs and expectations; and to demonstrate value that will secure more business and client retention.

Engaging with your clients should not be rocket science or a fearful encounter but it is often a question of how much or how little?

Some service providers only engage with their clients once a year; they review the annual plan, do a tax return or conduct an audit. However, the life circumstances of an individual client may change dramatically over the course of a year so how do you know if you are meeting their needs or supporting their growth?

My accountant, for example, knows my demands for her services are not huge but she calls me three or four times of the year; we’ll have a coffee and she is brought up-to-date with my life and my needs. She also issues an e-newsletter to all of her clients every two months. I find these unobtrusive and generally quite informative – it is my choice to read them or to scan for the topics of interest to me.

Of course, you do not want to plague or stalk clients either. A balance and at times, differing ways of communicating is a far better approach to engagement. The key however, is the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) factor. What does the client need from you and how would they like to be communicated with?

This also pays a pivotal part of the marketing of your products and services.  Understanding your client’s WIIFM factor allows you to tailor to their needs.

Again, engagement is best achieved when value is demonstrated and ticks the boxes for the client. This means that you are in sync with your client; understand their needs or can demonstrate further value that they had not previously considered.

The way you communicate with your client and the number of ‘touchpoints’ over time can be established at the start of the business relationship.  Simply, ask the question. This open dialogue may provide you with the opportunity to open more doors for you to offer greater services and support for your clients.

Your engagement methods may be a mixture of things; from face-to-face meetings; sound web-presence which provides information through articles, blogs or useful links, along with opportunities to electronically lodge an enquiry; through to traditional telephone and emails. You need to assess effectiveness, particularly if you are trying to provide new services to your client. These can also be delivered by a customised e-newsletter which they can subscribe to, or equally unsubscribe from.

Members of the Institute of Public Accountants can access a service from a company, Feedsy, which offers a web product for those who are not yet digitised; mail and a white-label e-newsletter which can carry your firm’s brand which supports the strengthening of your messages to your client.

Having a digital presence is critical in today’s marketing and this is not just about your existing client base but a way of providing a gateway for prospective clients in the future. By adding social media to your engagement tool bag, you can drive traffic to your website where potential new clients can take a view of what you have to offer and while they are there why not encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter or to lodge an enquiry for more information. See, the touchpoints have already started.

Now you have the opportunity to communicate further and get to know your future clients as well.

There are many ways to communicate; the key is to engage. Ensure you are getting feedback and if it’s not working, try new things. Start with an open conversation with your client and make sure you know their WIIFM factor.

Wayne Debernardi, GM media and strategic communications, Institute of Public Accountants

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