For better or for worse, technology has made it possible for advisers to communicate with clients in many different ways. Time has become one of our clients' most valued currencies, so instead of letters that take days to arrive, we send e-mails that are delivered in milliseconds. The requisite in-person client meeting has also begun to evolve, giving way to more frequent virtual meetings using video conferencing as the medium.
Every firm and their clientele are obviously different, so many of your clients may still prefer the traditional in-person meeting. But the next generation of clients lives within their technology and uses it to its utmost advantage. Why not take advantage of available technology to make sure your clients are getting the most personal attention — and human interaction — possible?
Video technology was designed to help bridge distances and there are many services that are offered at little to no cost. I highly recommend taking advantage of the application that best suits your firm, such as Skype, Adobe Connect, GoToMeeting or even FaceTime (for iPhone/iPad users). These programs allow you to hold “face-to-face” conversations with clients when an in-person one isn't possible, preferred or perhaps even necessary.
Another benefit of using video technology is that “seeing” your clients (even over a video monitor) means assessing more than just the questions or concerns that they vocalize. In the researcher Albert Mehrabian's two studies on non-verbal communications (Mehrabian & Wiener, 1967, and Mehrabian & Ferris, 1967) he found that 55% of communications is visual (as in body language, eye contact, etc.) and 38% is vocal (tone, pitch, volume). That means when it comes to communication, only 7% involves actual words. Body language is the biggest indicator of what someone is really thinking — and that's hard to assess in an e-mail. By using video conferencing for virtual meetings, you can still pick up on non-verbal cues that may help steer your conversation.
Virtual meetings may not be the best fit for all of your clients, but you'll find that a growing number of them will appreciate being able to “see” their adviser without being stuck in traffic on the way to your office. Even clients who live close by can benefit from quick face time instead of a phone call.
Greg Friedman is co-founder and chief executive of Private Ocean, and president and CEO of the Junxure CRM system