Three Steps to Dramatically Happier Clients: Lessons from the Airline Industry

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Every advisor wants clients to be 100% satisfied, especially those top clients who drive profitability. It takes three things to ensure that your very best clients feel well served. Regrettably, most advisors do a mediocre job on the first two and an abysmal job on the third.

The good news is that there is help at hand, with the airline industry providing a roadmap of how to treat your most important clients. This is perhaps the only area where airlines can be a useful role model for customer service, as legacy airlines have been justifiably excoriated for the hellish experience they inflict on run of the mill passengers.

But life for their best customers is a very different story – and one from which advisors can learn.

My articles, Why Top Performing Advisors are Exiting the Business and Today’s #1 Imperative: Differentiate or Die, argued that only those advisors willing to embrace fundamental change would flourish. When it comes to managing the experience that your clients have in working with you and your team, you need to get three things right:

  1. Use the right criteria to identify clients who deserve priority – most advisors do a poor job on this.
  1. Group those clients into the right categories for special treatment – the typical advisor does a poor job here as well.
  1. Dramatically differentiate the experience that top clients have working with you – on which the majority of advisors do an abysmal job.

Step one: Identify your best clients

It’s long been standard practice to segment top clients. The difficulty is that most advisors use crude measures to assess client value, looking exclusively at assets or income generated on accounts.

To get this right, you need to take a much more nuanced view on what determines a client’s value. Here are some of the things that make a client valuable beyond assets and income generated:

  1. To what extent have they moved to a fee-based platform?
  2. Is their account growing, flat or shrinking?
  3. Are they under 55 or over 75?
  4. Are they connected to other accounts of friends and family members?
  5. What’s your relationship with the client’s heirs?
  6. What percent of their investment assets do you hold?