Caring – new post COVID-19 world By on Oct 10, 2020
It’s always interesting to see unusual developments that come about from changes that happen in our world. The motor car ushered in suburban sprawl, shopping malls, drive in movies and the rest. The internet is driving so many changes in so many areas of life. Now we have COVID-19 which is also driving significant change. Restaurants and retail outlets are at the forefront of innovation to keep their businesses alive and even thrive. Professional services are servicing their clients online and have pivoted to remote working.
But there is an interesting undercurrent that is coming through from COVID-19 – one of caring. Caring more for clients, caring more for the team.
Probably one of the most immediate impacts of COVID-19 came from the government’s stimulus programs. Proactive firms got on their front foot and launched webinars, online groups and social media communications with their clients and the community to help them work out how to access the programs and manage their businesses. Clients were being called more often with advisers concerned about client’s welfare.
This higher level of engagement has clearly improved client relationships. Helping clients get government money into their pockets has helped, but it also seems clear that it has deepened relationships.
Firms need to acknowledge this learning and then consider how they will permanently institutionalise this increased engagement with clients. In a world where time is at a premium for professionals with significant deadline pressure, it is easy to fall back to old ways of being more reactive than proactive.
What needs to be done is to implement systems and processes that ensure that proactive client engagement continues. Perhaps, finally, firms will see the benefits of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems that record these client engagements and will generate alerts to remind the team that a client should be contacted.
We have advocated for what seems like decades that regular client needs review discussions are required. A discovery session that will ask clients key questions highlighting where they may be needing help. The interesting thing about these sessions is that by having discovery sessions clients feel that their adviser cares about them and is concerned about the client’s well being. The end result is a stronger relationship but also a greater understanding of the issues facing the client that will result in service opportunities. We have developed a list of questions to assist in conducting needs reviews. You can download a free copy of our Needs Review Checlist here. Note is it not meant to be a checklist to be completed. It is meant to be an aide to assist in creating a quality conversation between the adviser and the client.
It’s not only relationships with clients that have seen a positive change from COVID-19. Firms have also had an increased focus on engaging with the team. When people are dispersed, remote team management can be more of a challenge. Proactive firms have responded by ensuring that there is at least daily engagement with individual team members. Attempts have been made to have online social engagement. Many firm leaders have moved from email updates to sending out weekly video updates to their team.
More recently with the second lockdown in Victoria and ongoing working from home elsewhere, we have seen an increased focus on mental health of teams. Many firms have implemented an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and have engaged professional service providers to provide confidential counselling services for team members who have been struggling.
Where we end up with how people will work in the future is anyone’s guess. Many are predicting a hybrid approach of working partially at home and partially in the office. Clearly, there are big benefits organisationally to have the team together to create a social environment, facilitate training and mentor and coach individuals.
If people do primarily return to the office. Leaders should remember the benefits they saw from the COVID-19 experience, from greater engagement with the team and from a more caring approach to a team member’s individual circumstances.
So as we move to 2021 perhaps “caring” is the word that needs to factor into your plans. Do we care enough about our clients and our team? Do our clients and teams perceive that you do? I’m sure that firms that create this caring culture will be winners in the post COVID-19 world.
Do you need help with your practice management or business advisory strategy? Reach out to us to set up a no-obligation meeting to discuss how we can help you. Email us at: [email protected] or call 1300 665 646.