By Art Husami, EA/CFP®, Husami & Associates
The late American entrepreneur, author, and personal-development speaker Jim Rohn said",One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising." It's true: I have found that giving clients the best possible experience while they're in our office is the surest way to get them to refer our services to their friends and family members.
On the surface, the job of CPAs and wealth managers is to know tax laws, design portfolios and create financial plans. But when you dig deeper, what we financial professionals really do is work with clients to give them peace of mind. We earn our clients' trust and build long-term relationships with them. We want them to feel like they're getting the red-carpet treatment, but, often, figuring out how to create that feeling is relegated to the bottom of our endless to-do lists.
When I started my firm, I knew that it wasn't enough just to want to succeed. Success would only come from hard work and a dedication to achieving my clients' goals. After a number of years in the business, I realized that the same is true when it comes to the quality of service my clients receive while in our office. I needed to make a commitment to make sure clients felt they were getting a high-quality experience.
I decided to hire a Client Experience Manager who would only have one job function: to ensure that our firm is doing everything possible to appeal to the clients' subliminal feeling that they are in the right place. I didn't want a person who knew anything about financial planning or about taxation, or a receptionist who would work on this in between phone calls.
When clients walk into our office, I want them to feel like they're walking into a place where they feel at home, a place where they belong. Our client experience manager makes sure that welcoming quality is reflected in everything in our office.
I started with aesthetics. The walls are painted in two similar shades, separated by a chair rail. Every piece of art we have is an original oil-on-canvas or watercolor painting, rather than a print purchased from a home dÃ©cor outlet. I even made it a point to put thicker carpet with thicker padding in the conference room. When clients step into our conference room, they feel through their feet that where they walk is a special place.
I love watching people's faces when they walk into the conference room, just to see their reaction, even if they don't quite notice it themselves. Once I brought a longtime client into our revamped conference room. He walked in, and said",Oh! I got promoted to the corporate conference room. I must be becoming important!"
One of the first things we asked our client experience manager to do was to classify our clients from AAA level to C or D level. She placed color-coded dots on customer folders for us to easily see the business level of each client. She then created a list of our clients' birthdays and makes sure I call AAA and AA clients personally on those dates. When clients came to the office, she paid attention to how they take their coffee, and entered the information into our client management system. So the next time that particular client comes by, we say to him",You like your coffee with cream but no sugar, right?" She found a way to bake cookies in the office, so when our AAA clients arrive, a wonderful aroma fills the air and they're served freshly baked cookies. She also became a notary. When one of our best clients needs something notarized — whether it is related to our business or not — she is available to notarize the documents for them.
One day, I was meeting with a client and it happened to be his birthday. We were discussing business, and the next thing I know, the staff walks in with a small birthday cake singing "Happy Birthday." I'll never forget the look on his face. There is no doubt in my mind that this client will remember this, and tell others — potential clients — about it.
Ensuring our clients feel appreciated when they're in our care reinforces their decision to work with us. We have to take special care to communicate our commitment to them, to give them that reassurance that they're in the right place. It's the little unexpected touches, like our padded carpet or tailor-made coffee, that get that message across. Those touches keep our clients happy, and as Rohn wisely said, keep our business growing.
Art Husami, EA/CFP®, is the principal and founder of Husami and Associates, a single-source provider of comprehensive integrated business and financial services to business owners. The 25-year-old company based in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. provides holistic planning, sound authoritative advice and excellent service to its clients.
1st Global Capital Corp. is a member of FINRA and SIPC and is headquartered at 8150 N. Central Expressway, Suite 500 in Dallas, Texas 75206; (214) 265-1201. Additional information about 1st Global is available via the Internet at www.1stGlobal.com.
1st Global was founded by CPAs on the belief that accounting, tax and estate planning firms are uniquely qualified to provide comprehensive wealth management services to their clients. Each affiliated firm is provided with education, technology, business-building framework and client solutions that make these firms leaders in their professions through dedicated professional client relationships built around wealth management.