Added value is always in the eye of the beholder – what’s valuable to one contact or organisation might not be valuable to another.
Typical ‘added value’ approaches used by firms, such as bulletins, training and even secondments have now become commonplace with clients expecting them as part of the standard service. In some cases, added value originally designed to foster greater goodwill and client loyalty has been reduced to commodity status.
At the same time clients still expect their advisers to deliver value as part of their relationship with them. The answer then is to consider each client’s situation and propose something that will really help them.
What do clients value in the current climate?
In many a survey, clients often say they want the following from their advisers:
As well as expertise, clients like their advisers to anticipate problems or issues for their organisation and give practical advice on how to manage them.
Client contacts continue to be busy and so appreciate communications which are 100% relevant, but also quick and easy to action. This requires advisers to be good at listening and interpreting client issues. It also means producing clear concise communications, having their team readily accessible and being prompt in their response.
A seamless and enjoyable working relationship
The easier an adviser and their team are to work with, the more value the client will place on the relationship. Where clients deal with more than one specialist in an adviser’s firm, that ease needs to be seamless and not confined to one individual alone. It means the adviser’s client team need to be aligned, informed and unified in their knowledge and activities for the client.
A robust and current business understanding
That last point is greatly helped by the team having a good knowledge of the client’s business objectives, issues and ways of working and then aligning with them. From this knowledge and insight comes opportunities to spot additional ways to help and advise the client. This will demonstrate a willingness to ‘go the extra mile’ and do what is professionally necessary for the client to achieve the results they seek. A trait greatly valued by clients.
Be mindful though that things change, and your team will need to monitor developments in the client to remain current in their understanding.
Efficiency and effectiveness
Clients are increasingly seeking reassurances that their advisers are working efficiently and effectively for them. It’s one of the reasons why scrutiny of firms’ use of technology and low cost centres is featuring in more request for proposals. See our recent article.
Effective management of your client’s work when it comes to the project/matter, how you manage the relationship and your costs/billing will be very important to them. Be sure to communicate any innovative approaches you take which enhance your efficiency and benefit them. Don’t always assume they’ll recognise this.
A proactive point of view
As we mentioned earlier proactivity is greatly welcomed by clients so ensure you are prompt in alerting them to insight, ideas and news which will have an impact on their operations and plans. In doing so give a point of view on what the issue means for them, and how best to respond to it.
Clients expect their advisers to give an objective but a valued point of view – in many cases they seek a ‘sounding board’ and a steer. Whilst it is good to present a range of options, clients will greatly appreciate if you also stress which you feel is in their best interests and why. This will certainly help you secure a position as a trusted and valued adviser.
Valued added value
There are still opportunities for advisers, therefore, to deliver ‘valued’ added value in 2020. The key is not to try and devise a ‘one hat fits all’ offering. Instead create something that is highly tailored and personal in feel to each client.
- Providing access to relevant resources and information held within your firm
- Creating ‘off the clock’ idea generation or strategic thinking sessions to help them tackle or plan for a specific issue
- Giving access to clients and contacts who will benefit them professionally and their business
- Offering benchmarking and health-checks in relation to their business, a specific process or role
- Sharing sector insight
- Giving relevant market intelligence
- Providing practical ‘know how’ or tools on a specific issue
- Alerting them to competitor information
- Helping them develop into new markets/territories
- Sharing your facilities
- Supporting and aligning with clients’ wider policies and goals – Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental, Diversity and Inclusion etc
As different clients value different things, firms can balance a variety of added value offerings efficiently. The key to doing this profitably is to ensure the firm’s client teams fully understand their client contacts and determine which value activity will resonate the most with them. Over time this strategy will indeed build client loyalty and make it harder for competitors to emulate and poach.
For more information about our training, coaching, webinars and e-learning on the subject of delivering real added value to clients please contact us on tel 44 (0) 20 7488 4419