Building Client Intimacy

Always go the extra mile for your clients. It's easier than you think. The road is never crowded. When we know what our clients like and dislike, we can develop client intimacy. No personal detail is too small. We should know their hobbies, where they went to school, their children's names and birthdays, their planned retirement date, what clubs they belong to, and their favorite form of entertainment,

Always go the extra mile for your clients. It's easier than you think. The road is never crowded.

When we know what our clients like and dislike, we can develop client intimacy. No personal detail is too small. We should know their hobbies, where they went to school, their children's names and birthdays, their planned retirement date, what clubs they belong to, and their favorite form of entertainment, favorite music and favorite charity.

On top of that, we should know their preferences regarding how often they want to talk via phone and in person, and have all their contact information handy — their home number, office number, fax number, cell number and e-mail address. Having bits of intimate knowledge about clients allows us to communicate with them in a way that touches the core values of their lives.

If you're a regular reader of this column, you know I'm a strong advocate of client service. I'm on a constant mission to create special experiences that show clients I truly care about our business relationship. I refer to my service model as the “I care” client retention model.

Let me give you an example. Each time we establish a new business relationship, the client embarks on our “30-day wow” experience. Part of this service is our “client intimacy” campaign. I send a music CD and an “intimate” questionnaire asking questions on topics like those mentioned above. I explain the importance of completing the questionnaire and how the answers help me serve them better. I also attach a two-page letter discussing our client service model, and why I strive to develop a relationship built on trust and confidence.

Recently, a new client indicated on the form that he and his wife were avid tennis players. For whatever reason, I never obtained this important information during our previous meetings. I immediately sent the couple two T-shirts from a local charity tennis event I founded a few years ago.

Simple as it seems, two shirts helped me connect with the clients and create a special experience.

Here is how I would feel if I were the client:

  1. I'm surprised because I am not accustomed to receiving great service.

  2. I'm happy because it's exciting to feel appreciated.

  3. I want to give this adviser more business because I give business to people I like.

The clients sent me a wonderful thank you letter expressing their sincere appreciation. They wanted to make sure I was hanging tough during these difficult market conditions. These are the types of clients I want.

Here's another example of how my client intimacy campaign builds loyalty. I discovered quite a few of my clients were avid fishermen. I came across an amusing audiocassette titled “The World's Greatest Fishing Songs,” composed by none other than Fishbone Fred. Among the most memorable are a “Fish From Hell” and “Do Fish Get a Tan?” Would your clients who fish appreciate receiving this funny cassette? I bet they would. It's a way to show you care about their interests as much as they do.

In creating a special experience for clients, be sure your actions:

  • Are not self-serving.
  • Are personal.
  • Are unexpected.

As someone once said, “The little things don't mean a lot — they mean everything.” Always go the extra mile for your clients. It's easier than you think. The road is never crowded.

Harry Pappas Jr. is a senior vice president at a major firm in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., one of Registered Representative's Outstanding Brokers and the author of the manual “Selling From the Heart.”

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