Delivering a superior client experience is the difference between winning and losing. In 30 years working with ultra high net worth clients, we have seen what works. With no attempt at being comprehensive, here are 23 factors from a list of more than 80.
1. First class in everything. People want excellent service and good value, not the lowest price. Show how every dollar a client spends benefits them. Responsiveness trumps fancy stationery, but don’t scrimp on materials. Your weakest link defines your overall strength.
Communication, manners, dress and social norms are important to many, but not all. Never risk being below standard.
2. Family first, finances follow. Understanding family dynamics allows you to meet the unspoken, as well as spoken, aspirations. Money is a tool to accomplish personal goals, not an end to itself.
Safety, security and stability: The three “S’s” are at the heart of most objectives and the key to client retention.
3. Listen intently. Repeat what you hear. Ask clarifying questions. When clients know you are listening to understand, not sell, trust is gained. Avoid forming your next thought while another is speaking.
When you listen intently, you are among the very few. People notice.
4. Appeal to core human desires. To be heard, to be understood, to be valued, to contribute and to learn. Be the vehicle to accelerate attaining their desires.
5. Service promise. How will the client’s experience be better than it has ever been? What will you do for them, personally? How will they know you will do it year after year? Make promises personal; meet your client’s top priority. Deliver it over and over.
6. Educate, inform, inspire. Look ahead. Help clients know the issues they should be pondering. Provide two years of education, topic reviews and service standards. Don’t skip the basics, unless you should.
Possessing technical knowledge in multiple fields is essential, but don’t overwhelm others proving your mastery. Give bite-sized snippets, offer vocabularies, and research what clients want to know.
7. Write it down. Talk is cheap. Written plans are promises. Set dates: Who will do what for whom by when? Own the to-do and follow-up lists. Providers who consistently do what they say are valued.
8. It’s not how big you are. It is how personal you make it feel. Spending too much time emphasizing size and scope can be counterproductive. Industry rankings are not important—the client experience is. Demonstrate how important the client is.
9. Build in quality. At every step, anticipate when slips can occur and create fail-safes. Have your team write down all of the steps required to ensure “perfection.” Where might mistakes occur? Double-check at critical points. Your team will take pride in their excellence. They will own it.
10. Be over-prepared. We feel you can never be over-prepared. Yes, it takes time and some of the extra time may be “wasted.” But, like running extra miles after practice, it is only the champion who “wasted” the extra effort. Risk being over-prepared.
11. Attention to detail is everything. Surprise and delight at every step in client engagement. Imagine the best service you ever experienced at a hotel, restaurant, luxury provider, or from Starbucks or Amazon. Replicate and improve.
12. Confirming communications. Emails are fine, but many people still want hard copy. Letters are an opportunity to distinguish your style and thoughtfulness. In advance, send the agenda, biographical data, directions and parking. Use stamps, not metered mail.
13. Other advisors. Who else should be invited or copied? Let the client’s trusted advisors know you value their insight. This group is the glue in client retention.
14. Prepare and print in advance. Two days prior, print everything. Two sets of eyes review all materials. Last-minute updates can be inserted or referenced.
15. Day before, confirmation call. Emails are easy, but phone calls are personal. Don’t skip a chance to deepen a personal relationship.
16. Dry-run every time. Every meeting is unique. Each person has a role and must know what it is. Presenters must be briefed prior and know both the entire agenda and their role.
17. Everyone is on the team. From garage attendant to lobby receptionist, each person your client meets needs to know you are expecting guests. Request they say, “Welcome, we have been expecting you.” Even better, meet your clients in the lobby.
18. Room set-up. From chairs to art to the pens and pencils, a consistent level of quality must be maintained. No trash cans.
19. Materials. One-page agendas, four to six topics. Ask if the topics on the previously sent agenda were on point. Should other topics be covered? Delay referring to handouts as long as possible. Speak with the clients, not to the book.
20. Script your first sentence and concluding sentence. Know how you want to start and where you want to finish. Set the tone at the outset. Conclude with your recommendation. People remember the last thing said.
21. “How do you feel?” More important than what the client says is how they feel. Emotions drive actions. Facts are fit to support gut decisions. Ask how clients feel about life and family. Go deep.
22. Scribe. A team member takes notes and, at the conclusion, reviews the action items: who will do what by when. The same person writes the follow-up letter to the client and copies relevant advisors.
23. After-action report. An “after-action report” should be prepared by the second in command. Highlight things done well and what will be done better in the future. Rarely is there a “perfect” meeting.
Is this all there is?
These findings apply to most client situations. But not to all.
Each item has specific sub-components garnered from thousands of interactions serving dynastic and multi-generational families.
For the other 60 factors, email [email protected].