Be Smart About The Details

Mar 05, 2024

My clients came in yesterday for a plan review meeting. We had a lot to cover and an hour to spend together.

As they walked into my office and took a seat at the table, they both laughed at the two small piles of Smarties candies that were waiting for them. 

"What is this?" one of them asked.

"I love Smarties!" commented the other.

Before I could answer their questions, they both had already unwrapped a sleeve of the candies and started eating them. What they didn't remember was their comment in our last meeting.

But I did. 

Back in October, they had come in for their Q4 meeting. We had recently moved into our new offices. They both commented on how comfortable the space was, how bright and sunny the conference room felt, and that our parking was convenient and easy. They were also glad that the candy bar from our old office was set up in the new one. Then my client commented jokingly, "If I had to complain about something, it's that you don't have any Smarties in your candy bar. Smarties are my favorites."

We laughed. But I didn't let her comment go.

At the end of that meeting, I did my case notes-- and added a note that these clients love Smarties candies. My assistant copied that sentence from my notes and pasted it to a customized field in our CRM system. When the clients scheduled their March meeting with me, our system flagged a reminder for us that Smarties are their candy of choice. My assistant ordered some, added them to our candy bar-- and also put an extra stash on the conference room table so they wouldn't miss the special treat we had gotten for them.

Not only did they notice... they ended up eating 12 packets of Smarties before the hour was over!

Advisors often ask me which details they should focus on when creating a great client experience. All of them, I answer. Here's why: you never know which detail the client will focus on, care about, or be impressed by.

We must assume all the details matter.

This effort doesn't have to be time consuming or cost a lot of money. When a client walks into your office, is there music playing? What kind of music? If your client is elderly, maybe switch to the Big Band station on Spotify. If a couple is young and coming to you for the first time, the Today's Pop station might catch their attention. In your meetings, find out what your client's favorite genre of music is, add it to your CRM system, and have someone in charge of curating the tunes for their next visit. 

Favorite snacks, a preferred way they take their coffee, what specific decaf herbal tea they enjoy, or if they are vegan or gluten-free: These are easy questions to ask during a fact finder or an annual review.

But once you have this information, it’s now up to you to do something thoughtful with it. 

There are so many details to think about when prepping for a meeting, whether in person or virtually. Ask yourself what will make the client's experience easier, smoother, and more enjoyable:

  • Always have extra pairs of reading glasses available.
  • Always have paper and pen in case a client needs it.
  • Set a gentle alarm half-way through your meeting to see if the client needs a bathroom break, brain break, or a drink refill.

If you're meeting virtually, check your social media before the meeting-- or have someone on your team do this for you. Find out what the client has been up to, what they're celebrating, or if their beloved cat recently passed away. Then start your meeting by acknowledging whatever is going on in their life. 

I promise, it will matter. 

Not friends with your clients on social media? Maybe you are not even on social media? Consider this might be a mistake. You are missing out on valuable, personal, and important things your clients care about. Paying attention to these details will make you more relevant in your client's eyes.

And more relevant means more referable. 

I met with an estate planning attorney who recently moved to our city. At the end of our lunch, I asked if there was anything I could do for her. "Yes," she said, "You could find me a great place for a manicure in this town! I've yet to find someone who can do my nails like my old salon in Atlanta did."

When I returned to my office, the first thing I did was send an email with three manicurists and a personality description for each. She replied and said she couldn't believe I remembered her silly request.

But it wasn't silly. It was important to her.

A few weeks later, she sent a referral to me and introduced us by email. In the intro, she stated that she thought I'd really enjoy working with the couple. And to them she stated, “I'm always impressed by Amy's impeccable attention to detail." 

The details matter, even the seemingly silly ones.

Here's the good news: The bar is so low when it comes to people's expectations. We've all been disappointed by declining customer service, lousy follow-through, and lack of thoughtfulness. You can immediately up your game if you pay attention to the details. Follow through. Do what you say you are going to do. And do it sooner than people expect. 

Do all the details matter? Not necessarily. But the challenge is that we never know which ones are going to resonate. So, pay attention to the small stuff.

Maybe your clients don't care about Smarties. You can still be smart and find out what they do care about before their next arrival. 

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