Our four-year study on the impact of developing a business and social relationship with clients has been widely publicized. The increases in client loyalty, asset penetration, and referral flow are impressive. Much of this confirms what we already know; strengthening the relationship between you and your clients will help your business innumerably. Shifting gears for a moment…have you put the same type of effort towards strengthening the relationships between your clients?
Why? The more deeply clients connect with one another, the more deeply they are connected to you. When we say “forget confidentiality,” we’re not suggesting you share sensitive account information; we’re just saying don’t be shy about introducing clients to one another for mutual benefit.
Let’s look at a few examples of this principle in action…
Bob hosted a semi-annual dinner for 8 clients who all retired from the same company. They didn’t all know each other prior to these dinners, but over time, they grew to like each other and really look forward to Bob’s events. In his last dinner, Bob’s clients had a roundtable discussion on finding others from company to join the group (aka work with Bob).
Sharon hosted an intimate dinner party at her house. Of the 10 total clients she invited, one was divorced and the other widowed. Long story short, they hit it off, continued the relationship and ultimately got married. Think their bond with Sharon was strengthened?
Tom hosts regular viewing parties for major sporting events (NCAA tourney, World Series, etc.). He invites clients, prospects, friends, and COIs. It’s become such a routine that when a major sporting event is coming up, people email him to make sure they’re included on the invite.
Much like your biological family, the ties within your “business family” are strengthened when members interact frequently, help one another, and share common experiences.
Developing a business family is nothing more complicated than serving as a central hub in a network of people linked to your business. You’re in a unique position to connect potential friends, business partners, and service providers.
Here are three action steps to get you started:
- Play Matchmaker
Which of your clients would benefit from meeting each other? Maybe you think they’d make great friends, golfing buddies, or business partners. This could be as simple as “I’m organizing a foursome for golf. I wanted to get you and another client of mine, Susan Jones, on the course together. I think you’ll like each other.”
- Host Frequent Intimate Events
This is a staple of creating client connectivity. Keep them small, inexpensive and logistically simple and you can afford the time and energy to do them regularly (we’d recommend monthly). You might consider grouping the same clients together often. You’ll be surprised how many become “fast friends” through meeting a couple dinner parties.
- Organize Outings Around Community Events
A close cousin to hosting an intimate event, keep an eye out for local events to which you could invite a grouping of like-minded clients. If you consistently get a group of people together for craft beer tastings or running or yoga, you’ll build connectivity quite easily.
In the big picture, we’re looking to create a sense of community linked to your service offering. We’ve all felt this at some point in the past - maybe at your fitness facility or your children’s school. Your bond with the service provider and the other consumers strengthen your loyalty and increase the likelihood of you recommending it to others.
Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are coaches with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell @KevinANichols www.oechsli.com