Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.Dan Richards

Almost every advisor has the goal of building deep relationships with key clients, partly to foster loyalty and increase the assets you have from them, partly to open the door to referrals.

One way to do that is to have clients “wowed” by their experience in dealing with you, and three key words create that “wow” effect with important clients: 

“Do the unexpected.”

There’s nothing wrong with delivering what’s expected.  After all, having expectations met is typically what Americans experience (but if it’s with a cable company or internet provider, then it’s only if you’re lucky.)

For key clients, however, your goal has to be higher.

The downside of merely meeting expectations

Here’s the problem with just meeting expectations.

Imagine you go out for dinner and everything is up to standard – the meal, the service, the restaurant décor. Your basic expectations are met.

Tomorrow, a couple of work colleagues ask you about your experience at that restaurant – and you say “it was fine” or “It was good.”

That’s the result of an acceptable experience. You might go back, but that restaurant isn’t likely to be at the top of your list. And that recommendation to your colleagues is tepid – it’s unlikely to make them rush to that restaurant.

What that restaurant owner needs you to say is not “it was fine” but “it was terrific, great, fantastic.”  And prompting that response takes much more than meeting your expectations.

Doing the unexpected

In talking to clients who are “wowed” by their advisors, I find it’s almost never because of performance that’s through the roof. Rather, it’s generally the day-to-day little things that stand out for clients, making them feel acknowledged and special.

One client told me about getting a call from her advisor on the morning of her birthday saying “I just wanted to be among the first to wish you happy birthday. And if you don’t have lunch plans, I’d like to take you to lunch to celebrate.”

Another was impressed because every time he has a meeting at his advisor’s office, there’s a spot in the parking area reserved for him with a sign with his name on it.