Oct 13 2023
Tips to switch from offline to online for effective client communication
By Tessreen Kaur
As the world becomes increasingly digital, financial advisors in Malaysia are finding it necessary to transition from offline to online channels to effectively reach and engage clients. By embracing the digital wave, financial advisors are providing better servicing experience by adapting to the ever-changing demands and expectations of today’s clients.
Here are some tips for financial advisors to successfully navigate this shift and continue to build strong relationships with their clients.
Identify useful online communication tools
First and foremost, before switching to online communication, financial advisors need to identify appropriate online channels to reach their clients. With many different communication tools available, such as video conferencing, email, instant messaging via communication tools, and social media, financial advisors should consider client preferences and needs when choosing suitable channels.
Foong Eu Jin, a three-year MDRT member from Selangor, Malaysia, shares, “Just before kickstarting a virtual meeting or call, a client can face technical issues such as failed audio connection, video being disabled without the client’s realization and unfamiliarity of the app’s various functions. It is key to know which applications clients are comfortable with and to utilize it accordingly to ensure the discussion is carried out smoothly.”
Understanding this, financial advisors need to increase their digital presence across online channels to provide convenient and accessible services. With various tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, advisors can seamlessly leverage the app’s features to efficiently connect with clients, anywhere, anytime. Diversifying the platforms used such as a combination of social media and video conferencing apps, can also increase one’s reach and appeal to a wider range of clients. Foong adds that his likelihood of securing meetings with new and current clients was three times higher when they were given several virtual meeting options.
Ensure you and your team are trained to use the tools effectively
Financial advisors should understand how to set up and use video conferencing software as well as messaging apps, and how to communicate effectively online.
Ching Mee Fen, a 13-year MDRT member from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with two Court of the Table qualifications is of the opinion that the ever-evolving business environment, shifting consumer preferences, and technological advancements have all made it more important to improve one's skills. “It might be daunting at first to try something new, but once you get the hang of using digital apps, it will be very easy and fast.” She mentions how leveraging on applications like Zoom and Google Meet has helped her amplify client outreach and maximizes productivity, “I am able to meet clients at their own comfort, without hassling them with travel or parking needs and cutting down their waiting and wasted time. To put it simply, it is time- and cost-effective for them.”
Technology has also aided her in creating a streamlined and error-free policy review process. Mobile applications have transformed the way clients sign new policies and allow for seamless policy reviews. “This is efficient in the case of an emergency instead of having to rely on both parties taking time to search for the hardcopy of the client’s policy.”
Some of these tools offer tutorials or demonstrations on how to effectively use their platforms at no cost. It is helpful to reach out to them to check if they offer such services for your whole team.
Establish rules for online etiquette
A large portion of our time is spent online so developing a guideline on how channels will be used to engage with your clients would come in handy. Financial advisors should also explain how frequent the communication will be, when to communicate, what topics will be covered, and what channels will be used.
Clients expect replies within minutes, and unfortunately, advisors are conditioned to respond almost immediately even if it is after working hours. Michael Ong Chong Ghee, a two-year MDRT member from Penang, Malaysia, offers a piece of advice to financial advisors which is to establish boundaries from the very beginning. Once clients know when a good time is to reach you, you will have a better balance in your work life.
He does this by setting clear yet cordial boundaries with clients on his availability from Monday to Friday for work-related matters, and the weekends are reserved for family time: “While I am committed to providing you with the best possible service, I believe it is essential for both of us to have designated times for communication. For non-urgent matters or updates outside of my working hours, please feel free to drop me an email. If it is an urgent matter, please mark it as ‘Urgent’ in the subject line, and I will make it a priority to respond within the hour.”
Monitor client engagement
Financial advisors should monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their online methods regularly. They can actively seek client input through surveys or by bringing it up during meetings and adapt their strategies when necessary to fulfill clients’ needs and exceed expectations.
Foong adds, “Financial advisors need to note that clients are expecting more timely, relevant, and targeted responses, products, and services from the companies they engage. Ultimately, when a client trusts a person, brand, or an organization, they are more likely to recommend them to friends and family, helping to attract new clients and bring in new business.”
By adopting some of these tips, financial advisors can successfully transition from offline to online communication with clients and provide a more convenient and seamless experience for their clients.