Are you ready to go beyond thoughtful gestures and WOW your clients this holiday season? Lindsay Troxell, Director, Knowledge Labs® Professional Development outlines a scalable process for creating memorable moments that are highly personalized and timed for relevance.

With the holidays nearly upon us, you may be thinking about how to thank clients for their business through the usual tactics, like giving each one the same gift basket. While thanking clients at this time of year may seem obvious, many financial professionals are finding that their one-size-fits-all approach to client experience doesn’t always measure up to their clients’ expectations.

This isn’t all that surprising when you consider the fact that our clients’ expectations are being shaped by interactions with companies that focus relentlessly on crafting an experience that is tailored to their specific needs and aligns with their value system.

But what if I told you that you can – and must – focus just as relentlessly on your client experience as any other company or provider? And that you can do so in an attainable, consistent way that still leaves you enough time to excel at the more technical aspects of your business?

This is exactly what the Art of WOW is designed to do: provide a systematic approach to expressing gratitude. Systematic gratitude is much more than a thank you, and it’s not about how much you spend. Rather, it’s about connecting with clients in a way that reflects your role as a trusted source of support and advice during good times and bad. A WOW client experience model goes beyond simply meeting expectations and consistently drives client loyalty by creating meaningful moments.

If this sounds intriguing – but maybe a little intimidating – it may help to understand that one of the keys to making WOW sustainable is careful segmentation, which will allow you to scale your efforts to make them more manageable, and ultimately more impactful.

WOW Won’t Look the Same for Everyone

When it comes to segmenting your book of business for the purposes of your overall client experience or delivering one-on-one WOW experiences, you will first want to identify the clients you truly consider to be your top tier – those who spark your interest or curiosity or passion.

The next step is to start gathering detailed information about these clients. This can include demographic data such as income, life stage and marital status, as well as psychographic information such personality, values, opinions, interests, and lifestyle. These are the attributes you will use to form a persona, which is a profile of the ideal client you want to replicate within your practice.

For those top-tier clients, it’s all about creating an experience that is highly personalized and meets an unsated need. That means you’ll need to have intimate knowledge of their preferences, milestones, ambitions, and any other details that allow you to deliver an experience that truly WOWs them at precisely the right time. (Note that this means your information-gathering process for your top-tier clients is ongoing, not a one-time exercise.)

For your other tiers of clients, you will want to build a process for delivering thoughtful gestures that is scalable and sustainable. What do you do for birthdays for your gold clients? What do you do when your silver client goes on their dream vacation? What about anniversaries? The birth of a baby? A death in the family? Each of these moments are opportunities for scalable thoughtful gestures, which won’t take as much of your resources once you map them out.

Radar on, Antenna up

Everything I’ve just outlined above is very process oriented. But to make WOW an integral part of your practice, it needs to become a mindset. I’ve described this mindset before as “radar on, antenna up.” If you’re constantly looking for opportunities to create WOW moments and meet unstated needs with the people you care about in your own life, you’ll become better equipped to do the same with your clients.

I have a personal experience where someone I work with here at Janus Henderson created a WOW moment for me last holiday season. At the time, I was living in a basement apartment, which wasn’t such a big deal prior to the pandemic since, up until that I point, I had been on the road about 85% of the time. But eventually I started feeling like a neglected houseplant in that basement apartment and I started house hunting.

I told this colleague that when I found my new house, I wanted to have a lot of plants – potentially even a greenhouse. So as a holiday gift, he bought me a terrarium. The gift was thoughtful on its own, but he also included a card explaining that while I couldn’t have indoor plants in my basement apartment (which got hardly any natural light), this terrarium would be a temporary solution until I was able to buy a house. Now that I’m in my new home, I still have the terrarium and tell everyone who comes into my house this story.

What allowed this colleague to deliver that WOW experience for me is the fact that he listened, noticed little details and accumulated them over time. It wasn’t accidental or an afterthought – it was an intentional process born out of that “antenna up” mindset.

WOW Can Inspire Both You and Your Clients

I hope the above anecdote helps clarify what constitutes a true WOW experience. They’re designed to surprise and delight people. And the only way to truly delight people is by understanding them at a visceral level. As discussed above, that means gathering the data, asking the questions and being fanatically interested in who your clients are, what’s important to them, and what they are going through at any given moment. Armed with that knowledge, you can time your actions for relevance, which is another central component of a WOW experience.

Best of all, operationalizing the Art of WOW in your business can serve as a source of inspiration for both you and your clients. By focusing on your top-tier clients this holiday season and replicating them in your practice, you can devote your energy and passion to the kind of people who matter the most to you, and that will allow you to bring noticeably more enthusiasm to what you do every day.