In the current climate, perhaps more than ever before, people are seeking empathy and reassurance. Real connection counts, especially in a time of distancing, disorder and uncertainty. Intermediaries can play a pivotal role in being a pillar of support and providing a plan. Clear communication is imperative. Advisers who proactively reach out to clients may win loyalty for the long term. Now’s the time to focus on relationships.
Theesan Moodley, General Manager: Intermediaries at SanlamConnect quotes McKinsey: “Clear and inspiring communication is central to making this next unsteady phase a success.” He adds that “interpersonal relationships are key in a digital, yet disconnected world. More and more, intermediaries are being asked to be coaches as well as consultants, as they help guide clients through some of the trickiest times they’ll ever face. Strengthening bonds highly benefits you and your clients – and more so in a digital, yet disconnected world.”
Here, he shares a few real ways to engage with clients on a deeper level:
1. Be a catalyst for communication
Earlier this year, LinkedIn analysed millions of job adverts and ‘communication’ was the top skill most employers look for – irrespective of industry. With the reality of remote working, ‘Zoom fatigue’, and an inundation of communication platforms, intermediaries need to find new conduits for conversation. This means using clients’ preferred channels and striking the right tone. How does a person prefer to be addressed? Formally? Like a friend?
2. Empathy and consistency in doing what you say
Empathy is vital. By understanding your clients and their challenges, you’ll be better equipped to serve them and add real value to their lives. Integral to building any interpersonal relationship is establishing rapport and trust – and showing a genuine interest. It’s critical that you remain honest and approachable. This means doing what you said you would do, on time. Keep your promises and let your clients know that they’re your priority.
3. Don’t just hear, listen. Don’t just talk, act. Don’t just tell, show
One of the most valuable skills when it comes to interacting with others is the ability to listen to understand, and not to listen simply to respond. Your client needs come first; what’s in their best interest needs to be your priority. Talk, listen and act. Don’t put a client in a category and start selling them a predetermined solution – perhaps one they don’t need. Learning what clients’ actual needs are upfront can help you retain your client-base. Then do regular, proactive check-ins to see how these needs are changing and what solutions you can offer in return. It needs to be a dynamic, flexible relationship. People’s lives change – sometimes very quickly – and that’s when they need guidance the most.
Moodley concludes that building on one’s interpersonal skills has a myriad of benefits, from helping intermediaries to cultivate a calm, charismatic demeanour by improving knowledge of self to helping to deepen relationships and build ties that last.
“Building interpersonal relationships is not an exact science; it is a soft skill with a hard impact, and one we can all learn. It is largely intuitive. We all have an ability to connect – we just need to tap into it!”