Creating a “wow” or VIP experience for clients is about building your business around the client. It is going above the expected and delivering the unexpected. Every interaction a client has with you is part of their experience. They are observing you, listening to what you say, and scrutinizing every interaction. They are assessing what they are paying for and the value that is being delivered. Creating a “wow” or VIP experience is about delivering something clients never knew they wanted, at no additional cost to them.
Baseline vs. VIP Client Experience
Let’s face it, clients know the difference between baseline service and when they feel “wowed.” Many financial advisors and staff succeed at the basics – segmenting their clientele, leveraging technology for client contact, or sending birthday cards. The larger question is how do you enhance the personal relationship to create a VIP experience?
1. Uncover Personal Preferences / Special Interests
To foster a VIP experience, you want to learn more about your clients’ individual preferences and special interests. It’s keeping your eyes and ears open to the little tidbits of information clients share about themselves and capturing that information in your client database. In doing so, you can build a distinct cultivation plan that “wows” your clients.
Perhaps your clients have a special interest in cooking or international travel. Perhaps they love Bruce Springsteen or classic rock. Maybe they have a passion for animal rights or red wine. This information gives you many directions to go in for connecting with the client. You can send them books or share social media posts that focus on their special interests. You can send custom gifts, special dog treats for their pets, etc.
Providing a VIP experience may also be as simple as acting on a client’s personal preferences, such as:
- Do they prefer communication by Zoom, telephone, email, or text?
- Is there a family member or another adviser whom they would like to receive duplicate copies of statements?
- What is their favorite beverage? How do they take their coffee or tea when they are able to visit your office?
Capturing these preferences and taking action on them can help you better elevate your client experience. When clients are personally catered to, without having to be asked, it creates a “wow” experience.
Clients love when you remember things about them or their family. If you’ve never asked your clients these questions, you may want to ask them during your review meetings. Asking a client about their personal interests or preferences, in and of itself, creates a “wow” experience.
2. Remembering Special Dates and Milestones
There are additional questions you can ask clients to get to know them on a more personal level. Their answers can help you develop further VIP cultivation opportunities, such as:
- Is your client a veteran? (Send them a card on Veteran’s Day or host a Veteran’s Day Breakfast)
- What is the anniversary of the year the client started their business? Send them a cake at their office to celebrate.
- Is your client a widow or widower? Reach out to them on Valentine’s Day to let them know you are thinking of them and they are in your thoughts.
You can also recognize the client’s annual professional appreciation days (i.e., National Doctors Day, National Teachers Day, National Nurses Day, etc.). This is a great opportunity to send congratulatory cards through companies such as greetingcarduniverse.com.
3. Hire the Right Staff
Your staff’s ability to serve, respond, and focus on relationship cultivation is what keeps clients engaged. The challenge is hiring people who have a mindset and service-driven urgency that matches yours.
Your team and staff are a major factor in your client experience. If you want to deliver a VIP experience or “wow” your clients, you need to hire the right people and train them on what is expected. Show them what a “wow” experience really means.
- Meeting the Team
During the onboarding process, clients should meet or speak with every key member of your team. Team members should proactively reach out to clients to introduce themselves and let the client know what they are doing on the client’s behalf.
- Provide a “Who to Contact for What” Manual
It is recommended to provide clients with a “Who to Contact for What” document (with professional headshots of your team, phone, and email contact information). This makes it easy for clients to navigate doing business with you and get to the right people faster.
4. Make it Easy to Do Business with You
With the continued evolution of technology, the concept of personal experience is becoming something of a by-gone era. For many companies, the client experience has been equated with the user experience – meaning the ease of navigating technology.
A VIP experience or “wow” experience is not simply about technology, it is about personalizing your client interactions and relationships. It is walking alongside the client through every task, including technology.
Remember, each new piece of technology will often be foreign to the client. These are the times when you need to increase client contact. Automated tasks may make things more efficient for you and your team, but it could be a learning curve and frustrating experience for your client.
- Don’t Tell Clients What to Do, Show them How
Your team should proactively reach out to clients and walk them through every step of doing business with you. As an example, don’t just tell clients to register for your online portal. Take the time to conduct a virtual walk-through or train them in-person on how to navigate the site.
5. Personal Attention
To truly deliver a “wow” experience, you don’t have to accept the status quo where everything is automated. You can create distinction by focusing on the personal attention you give clients. Look for ways to increase the client’s comfort level in everything you do.
Look at everything from the client’s perspective. Be attentive to taking care of a client’s emotional fears, uncertainties, and doubts. Anticipate tasks that may be difficult for clients. Focusing on personal attention may create more work for your team – and that is the point.
We need to do the things other advisors can’t or are not willing to do.
6. Choose Your Words Carefully
Words matter. Even with the right tone, some words or phrases can come off as too casual or off-putting. For example:
- When a client says, ‘thank you,’ always respond with my pleasure instead of ‘you’re welcome’ or ‘no problem.’ It is a far more gracious demonstration of etiquette.
- Avoid saying, ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘sorry about that.’ Always respond with, my apologies. It is more sincere.
- Don’t say, ‘to be honest with you’ or ‘honestly.’ It implies there is something going on behind the scenes the client may not want to hear. Simply say, here is how this works. It is more definitive and instructive.
- Don’t say, ‘I don’t know’ if you don’t know the answer. Say to the client, I would like to verify the most current and accurate answer, may I call you right back after I speak with that department for you?
- Don’t say to a client, ‘can you spell your name?’ First, it implies their name is an imposition for you. Second, YES, a client CAN spell their name! Say to the client, would you kindly spell your name for me so I capture it correctly? It is a more gracious and humble way of asking.
7. Do What You Say You Will Do
In working with clients, particularly during onboarding or solving additional needs, there are many steps to complete. The goal is to help ease the burden for clients. Take as much of the burden off of clients as possible.
When a client makes a request, or you promise to do something on their behalf, do what you say you will do. Let the client know when the task has been completed. Closing the loop on communications and tasks is one of the best ways to demonstrate you are accountable and reliable. It builds trust.
8. If Something is Important, Pick Up the Phone
Sometimes emergencies happen. You may have to reschedule a meeting last minute. You may be running late. Yes, email the client to make sure the message is sent, but also pick up the phone to further communicate a priority and ensure the message was received. It allows you to answer any follow-up questions that will inevitably occur.
9. Resolve Issues Properly and Swiftly
Life is not perfect and sometimes issues will occur. When a client brings an issue or complaint to your attention, be grateful. Your client may expose hidden inefficiencies or staff training deficiencies in your firm that can be rectified. This will help elevate and protect your overall client experience before it becomes a systemic problem for other clients.
If you or your firm make a mistake, you cannot make excuses for it. It will not be helpful. Take ownership. Be humble, apologize, and correct the problem. This will preserve your client’s trust when you own a mistake and rectify it. If you suspect there is going to be a delay, let the client know. Don’t let the client be surprised when something is not done on time or done accurately.
Above all, you need to maintain the client’s confidence in you and your abilities. The best way to do that and preserve the client’s trust is to be honest. Admit the mistake, apologize and state what you will do to correct the problem. Take charge of the situation and let the client know what you are going to do on their behalf to solve the problem. Do not defer the blame to others. Take action on solving the problem.
10. Have the Right Vision Statement
Every business should have an internal vision statement. It guides the actions of your team and articulates the purpose for why you exist. This is especially important for your team in setting a culture of elevated service.
The challenge with many vision statements is they are performance-based, meaning the vision is all about the numbers – not the client. If your vision statement is to grow by 20% over the next year, or attain “X” Assets Under Management, this is not about delivering a VIP experience or “wowing” the client. This is about your numbers.
Make no mistake, numbers and profitability are important and should be in your business plan. However, having a number as your vision statement can give mixed signals to your staff. They may start to think about clients as accounts vs. thinking about them as individuals or how to elevate their VIP experience.
The right vision statement is about the experience you want to create for clients. If you focus on delivering a VIP experience for clients every day, you will help foster greater levels of growth for your firm. You will work with a purpose-driven mindset as you serve your clients.
The Bottom Line
In today’s service-driven environment, the client experience is the most valuable asset a financial advisor has. In fact, the client experience is 80% of how clients define value. When you build your entire business and team around the client, you not only surprise clients with a refreshing experience, your client will know they are truly taken care of by you.