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Making the most of CRM software

Avoid letting opportunities fall through the cracks.  

Providing best-in-class client service should be every advisor’s goal – a fundamental objective that requires a sophisticated level of organization. Keeping track of client conversations and potential opportunities is vital for business growth, but trying to stay organized by simply jotting notes down in a computer file or even a notebook creates the very real risk of overlooking important details. Consider the client relationship management (CRM) system, an essential tool used in many professional offices. You might already have one, but is it being used to its full potential? Maybe you can relate to a few of these statements:

  • Yes, I have a CRM system, but I don’t have time to use it.
  • I like my way of working, sticky notes and all. 
  • This new system is complicated and confusing.  

The reality is that an effective CRM system can be good for business, assisting advisors in offering proactive service to their clients. Consider these benefits associated with a CRM:

  • Client data, which can include meeting notes, investment portfolios, estate plan details and information about prospects, is all stored in one central location accessible to the entire team.
  • Whether you’re on the road or at your desk, many CRMs now have mobile functionality, giving you full access to your schedule and client notes from anywhere.
  • Automation features can help to maintain stronger client relationships by allowing you to schedule regular touchpoints with key clients and reminders about important milestone dates, such as retirements, birthdays, weddings, etc.  

However, a CRM is only as good as the office processes that are in place to maintain it. Kona Roy Chowdhury, with the Manulife Securities Field Services Technology team, says a successful CRM strategy relies on all members of the team working together to keep client data up to date in the system. 

“A CRM system is like a valued partner to your business,” says Kona. “I think many advisors struggle with not having good visibility on whether someone else on the team has reached out to a client and what was discussed. So having a central collaboration hub available to all team members is very important when it comes to giving clients the best service experience.” 

While it might be easy to consider a CRM system as simply another data entry tool, tapping into the power of client data insights is the real advantage. 

Strengthening client relationships 

A CRM system can help to build a full 360-degree view of a household, including client contact information, investment products, insurance policies, financial goals and important life events. And don’t forget about the potential for new clients. 

“Take that extra step and track other relationships connected to that client – the various family relationships – such as siblings, children and extended family who may need the services of an advisor,” says Kona. “Ask questions and find out who travels a lot, who has a small business, who needs estate planning, who needs advice on banking and mortgages. This is where you can use the power of a CRM to begin building a strong referral network.” 

Proactive processes can also help you give your clients next-level service. As an example, a report can be set up to identify which clients are due for an annual review. Tapping into this type of client data can improve your organization, helps the larger team know what’s happening day to day and can make a great impression on a client who will have a stronger feeling that you appreciate their business.  

“When CRM processes are implemented, very quickly advisors can see improvement in how their office functions,” says Kona. “They aren’t scrambling, they know what they have to do, and everyone in the office has insights on upcoming appointments, making it easier to cover for a colleague that may be away from the office on sick leave or other reasons.” 

CRM processes can range from the very simple to the complex. If this is a new concept for your team, the advice is to start small. 

“Implementing one small process such as pulling a list of client birthdays is a great place to start,” says Kona. “Things to think about include who’s pulling that list, how often, will this be an email greeting or a card in the mail, and who’s sending that message – the advisor or an assistant on behalf of the advisor?”  

What advisors are saying 

A collection of anonymous advisor commentary on the value of a CRM system: 

  • “It’s the ultimate value next to hiring an assistant. It’s the most valuable tool in my entire practice.”  
  • “Without it, I would have no way of keeping track of the copious amounts of information that a client shares about their personal life, their goals, their dreams, their aspirations, as well as keeping track and staying on top of things that you’ve committed to for them.” 
  • “If we didn’t have a CRM system, the trust that clients have with us wouldn’t be there because you can’t possibly remember all the information that a client shares with you, including their children’s names.”  

With so many CRM systems available, choosing the right one may feel daunting. Consider how your business may grow and look for a system that can evolve with you.  “Most CRMs offer the same basic functionality, including tracking a client’s detailed information and tracking an advisor’s interactions with clients via phone, emails and appointments, but you need to look beyond these basics and identify what else you need,” says Kona. “Make sure you’re selecting a system that can be customized to grow with your business, and ensure it is compliant – there may be specific requirements for how your cloud-based information is stored. Ultimately, you must ensure that your client data is secure.”   

A CRM can be a major step forward in business efficiency, with functional dashboards offering your entire team an accurate look at who may be overdue for a review meeting, how many meetings are on the schedule for the week or month, a client’s investments and insurance at a glance, and much more. To learn more about getting the most out of your CRM system, while also earning a continuing education credit, check out the Client Experience Fundamentals – 5 CRM Software Best Practices course in the Manulife CE Centre (CIAM login required). 

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