Want Client Loyalty? Do Something You Don’t Have To Do

In my March 17th post I quoted from the research of industry expert Mike Kostoff. Mike has been a consultant to some of the world’s leading wealth management firms for over twenty years, and he noted that the drivers of client loyalty to a firm differ than the drivers of client loyalty to an advisor.

The number one driver for loyalty to a firm is quality of advice, but two other factors rank higher as drivers for loyalty to an advisortrust and proactive communication.

The most important element of trust is putting the clients’ interests above the interests of the advisor and firm. A very powerful way of demonstrating this is by doing something you don’t have to do.

When training and coaching others on how to build trust, I often relate some of my favorite personal stories of how others have won my loyalty by doing things they didn’t have to do:

  • The car dealer who insisted on talking me through a simple repair over the phone to save me the cost of an expensive long distance tow and repair bill. I bought four cars from that dealer and serviced five there over the years.
  • The janitor cleaning the restroom at Disney World who inquired about my daughter’s minor head bump, then quietly sent a stuffed animal to arrive at our room before we did. We have been back four times since.
  • One of my favorite restauranteurs who randomly deletes entrees from my bill and then applies a 20% discount that wasn’t requested or expected. It’s not about the money, it’s about demonstrating thoughtfulness, appreciation and generosity. I recommend his restaurant all the time.

Now I have a new experience to add to the list.

Last week the dreaded day arrived to put our fifteen year old Chocolate Lab to sleep. The back half of Molly’s body had stopped working a few months ago and we had been carrying her around when she needed to eat, drink or eliminate; but she couldn’t scratch herself, she couldn’t seem to find a comfortable position any more and she had started to whimper in pain and frustration.

We didn’t want her to suffer and we knew it was the right thing to do, but it was still a painful day.

We love the whole staff at our veterinarian’s office and they had come to know Molly well through her frequent visits and boardings.

Our loyalty to the office rose to a whole new level when we received a sympathy card from the veterinarian who gave Molly her last injection.

Then another card arrived from Molly’s usual vet, who was out of town on Molly’s last day.

Then we received this card, signed by the entire staff:

The clinic didn’t have to send any cards at all, and I would have still felt very good about the quality of care and the people we deal with on a regular basis.

By the way, we switched to this clinic from another veterinarian who was competent and personable, but it felt like he was always finding a way to sell us another service or product.

We were happy with our new clinic even though they were 5 times further away than the old one, because we didn’t get that feeling. I’m not sure we even saved any money.

But now that they have demonstrated their empathy and concern during our darkest moments, now that they have connected to us in this very emotional way, what are the chances we will ever consider another veterinary clinic?

The pressures to grow assets and revenue today are very real, and doing little things for your clients without revenue is not a quick-fix solution. It requires patience, genuine care and a commitment to build your practice for its long-term value.

But that’s why you’re reading this, isn’t it?

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