I recently took my family out for a nice dinner at a restaurant near us. While waiting for our food to arrive, our five-year-old daughter and I played tic-tac-toe. Our server did a great job of being highly attentive throughout the meal without being intrusive. Before we left, the server approached my daughter with a blank tic-tac-toe grid and asked her if she wanted to play him. Her face lit up, and she, of course, said yes.
The server had his hands full during the meal. I was impressed that he had time to notice my daughter and me playing tic-tac-toe. Then he carved out time to engage personally with my daughter. He played well enough to keep the game close while still letting my daughter win. A few seconds after the game ended, he asked her for a rematch. “Sure!” my daughter squealed enthusiastically, and they went back at it, eventually ending up in a tie.
It only took a few minutes of the server’s time to play my daughter in tic-tac-toe. But no matter what else he could have done that night, he made me very happy because he made my child happy. He was attuned to what I care about — the people closest to me.
It was a fantastic customer service experience that most people — even in the hospitality business — wouldn’t consider. I’ve told many of my friends and work colleagues about the great experience I had at that restaurant, and many have chosen to dine there. For the restaurant owners, that’s a pretty good ROI on the server’s two tic-tac-toe games with my daughter.
How well do you know the kids?
How often are you asking your clients about what they care about most: their kids, their grandkids or their pets? Once you get comfortable spending 20% of the conversation asking clients about the people most important to them, your client will never go to another firm. Nothing else you can do from a business standpoint will do more for client loyalty.
So, what do you know about your clients’ kids and grandkids? What about their spouse or their dog? Think about how you felt the last time someone in a work setting asked you about your family or favorite hobbies, i.e., things other than business. Pretty good, right? Once you get comfortable doing the same thing for your clients, it’s an absolute differentiator. I don’t expect you to know how many swimming trophies or piano recitals a client’s granddaughter has, but you can at least keep track of your client’s birthdays, as well as the birthdays of their spouse, kids and grandkids. It’s easy enough to store those critical dates in your CRM (more on that in a minute). Doing so gives you close to a dozen good opportunities to call your client to see how they plan to celebrate.
For instance, after winding down a client call and confirming the business decisions you made together, suppose you said: “Hey, your granddaughter turned four last week. Did you do anything special?” This small gesture takes your relationship to another level. For more tips, see my article Call your best clients on their birthdays.
As a professional advisor, you need to pay attention to the details about their family. What’s most important to them? Most of the time, it’s their family because family matters are the main driver of their financial decisions. Doesn’t it make sense to become an expert on their families as much as on their finances?
Documenting the family tree
When onboarding new clients, we always ask about their family dynamics. If that makes them uncomfortable at first, we tell them we need the information because it’s part of providing them with broader and better advice. To help with this intake, we give clients a blank template for their family tree. The family tree has our client in the middle, with space for living relatives above and extensive “limbs” for siblings, kids and grandkids. We ask clients to fill out the family tree and tell them, “Thanks, this is going to give my team context when we’re talking about big-picture decisions we’re helping you with.”
Many times, on this family tree, we find the WHY that’s driving our clients’ financial decisions. Once the family tree is filled out, our staff adds the details to our CRM. That way, all the personal information is at your fingertips whenever you or a colleague calls the client — or whenever the client calls you unexpectedly.
Contact me any time if you’d like a copy of my firm’s family tree template.
As professionals, we spend so much time on the technical aspects of our job, trying to figure out what’s most important to our clients. The answer is often right in front of us — their families.
Getting the numbers right is just table stakes. It’s a given. If you weren’t great with the numbers, they would never have hired you in the first place. It’s all about providing next-level service and understanding the WHY driving all their financial decisions.
How is your firm providing a great client experience? I’d love to hear from you.