You work in professional services. You have for years. Your firm is at the top of its game and your long-term clients are enamored with your work. In short, it would be wonderful if you could simply sit back and bask in the light of your accomplishments. But that isn’t how it works in this industry.
A new generation of potential clients has arrived. Millennials, now in their thirties, are beginning to look for accountants, attorneys, architects, consultants, engineers, and lawyers. What’s more, they’re bringing the tools of their generation to the search. More than 1.7 billion of today’s clients are on social media, which is nothing compared to the staggering 4 billion who use mobile technology. In the US alone, 25 percent of Internet users browse only on mobile, and you can bet the lion’s share of them are millennials.
For a generation that checks their devices 221 times a day, email is slow. Scheduling a meeting for next week is arcane. The bottom line here is that even if your firm has a sterling reputation and has provided years of top-tier service, client expectations are shifting. SPI Research found that between 2013 and 2014, overall client referenceability (the percentage of clients satisfied enough to refer their friends) dropped from 74.5 percent to 73.8 percent, with 27.7 percent of respondents reporting that less than 70 percent of their clients are referenceable. Moreover, those companies that consistently deliver on client expectations have been shown to outstrip both their competition and the S&P 500 in the market.
Maintaining constant connectivity with each of your clients can seem like a drain initially. Thankfully, tools exist that can help allay concerns about lost utilization while also improving pursuit excellence at the same time.
One such tool is videoconferencing. By moving your meetings out of the boardroom and onto your tablet or smartphone, you’ll be able to meet face-to-face with clients—as often as is needed. Not only does this embrace the up-to-the-minute connectivity that millennial clients expect, it’ll save on what could otherwise be prohibitive travel costs. And if you need to brush up on your relationship with a particular client before your videoconference, simply hold an earlier meeting with your team. They’ll be able to share or send you the documents or research you need on the spot.
LinkedIn reports that 66 percent of its second-degree referrals result in a meeting. By building a strong contact list there and on other social networks, you can move beyond sending an email to your entire firm asking “Who knows somebody at Company X?” Often you’ll be able to identify Company X’s outside counsel, its banker, and other key individuals with a minimum of research. You’ll also quickly identify which of your contacts can make an introduction for you.
Building on this sort of connectivity, social insights technology delves deep into the realm of online data, focusing its search on companies you want to connect with. Not only will you receive contact information, you’ll gain access to constantly updated news about current events at Company X. This in turn will help you deliver relevant, targeted pitches to the right people at the right time. For millennials, a generation which in 2014 was responsible for making 46 percent of B2B purchases, this sort of insight is more than just a boon—it’s expected.
To see how mobile and social solutions have helped Grant Thornton’s professional services network create deeper connections with a new generation of clients, check out this short video.