The Spirit of WOW

Janus Henderson’s “Art of WOW” program helps advisors cultivate client loyalty through personalized expressions of gratitude. Lindsay Troxell, Director, Knowledge Labs™ Professional Development, explains that the spirit of the WOW can be amplified by thoughtful gestures to meet the deeper, unstated needs of clients.

You've bought in. Your team agrees. You're all fired up and excited to leverage The Art of WOW within the practice.

Finding moments in your clients’ lives where you meet an unstated need can be a powerful differentiator. You start collecting data on your top clients – more data then you've ever collected before. Your entire team begins gathering facts and tidbits: Jane Smith's favorite wine is pinot noir, she loves tennis, she grew up in San Diego, she enjoys spending time with her grandkids, and she loves dogs and chocolate.

You hope that after gathering and storing this information in your CRM, one day you'll be able to find a moment where something happens in Jane's life – an opportunity to leverage what you know to create a WOW moment for her. Finally, that day arrives.

Jane tells you that she's broken her arm and will be in a cast for a while. You think to yourself, "This is one of those moments  where we could WOW Jane by doing something that would surprise and delight her.” Does this sound familiar?

You pull the team together to start tossing around ideas of what to do. Maybe a fancy box of chocolates? Or a box of chocolates and some pinot noir? Jane loves both. Wouldn't that be a thoughtful gift?

The answer is … sure, it's a fine gift. Delightful, even. But it’s a missed opportunity. Why? Because you haven’t captured the true spirit of WOW.

Unstated Need + Relevance = The Art of WOW

At its core, The Art of WOW is about leveraging your detective skills and emotional intelligence to deliver a curated experience that engages your client emotionally and meets an unstated need. It means getting to know your client on a cellular level. You don't just know that they love chocolate and pinot noir; you also know how they feel, what they believe, what motivates them, what stresses them out, what they value and what makes them feel appreciated.

It's also situational. Another key factor of WOW is that what we deliver must be timed for relevance. In our example with Jane, we missed an opportunity to ask more probing questions about her current situation that may have revealed the key that would unlock a true WOW moment. What we should have asked are FEELING questions such as:

  • What is this experience like for you?
  • What are you finding to be the most challenging things to do?
  • How do you see this impacting you over the next few months?
  • What do you wish people were asking you about this experience?

Being genuinely curious will help you to understand what is going on for Jane, emotionally, in this moment. That understanding will uncover Jane’s unstated need.

Once you have identified her unstated need, you can layer on the other factors you know about Jane to make the WOW deeply personalized.

What you will find is that, over time, you will begin to build your WOW muscle like any other muscle development in the body. Through repetition, you will strengthen your powers of perception, curiosity, questioning skills, emotional intelligence and creativity.

In the meantime, here are some questions to ask your team to start building that muscle:

  • Who are we trying to WOW?
  • What is the circumstance that has created an opportunity to WOW this client?
  • What is our purpose for wanting to WOW this client in this moment?
  • What don't we know about how our client FEELS about this circumstance?
  • What questions do we need to ask to uncover how they FEEL about this circumstance?
  • What do we know about their interests, beliefs, dreams, values, motivations, stressors, ways they feel appreciated, etc.? What don’t we know?
  • What is our client's unstated need surrounding this circumstance?
  • Does our planned response really qualify as a WOW, or is it just a thoughtful gesture?

Let's revisit Jane. Since we don't really know how she’s feeling about her circumstance, we need to find a way to uncover this information and identify her unstated need.  There are a couple of ways to do this:

  • Check in with Jane a few days later to see how she is doing. Just a casual call to say that you are still thinking about her. During that conversation, ask her two or three of the “feeling” questions from above.
  • Ask one of Jane’s friends or family members the “feeling” questions to uncover what they know about her situation.

In the second scenario, you call Jane's husband, Bob, and uncover that Jane has been feeling surprisingly grateful for the experience. It turns out that their daughter has decided to visit for a week to help Jane through her initial recovery. She's bringing the grandkids, who Jane and Bob haven't seen in six months, and Jane is beyond excited. Her greatest stress now is getting the guest room cleared of some seasonal boxes and sprucing the place up before they all arrive.

Boom. Unstated need.

Instead of just sending Jane a box of chocolates and some wine (still a truly thoughtful gesture), you could also arrange for someone to spend an hour helping her clean in preparation for her daughter and grandchildren to arrive. To add that extra layer of WOW, be sure to include a handwritten note.

Thoughtful gestures are wonderful and not to be discounted. But what we are asking you to consider is, “How can I take a thoughtful gesture and turn it into something that holds emotional weight and connection to a deeper unstated need?” That, ladies and gentlemen, is The Art of WOW!

Drive deep client loyalty in a commoditized world.