Dealing with Wealthy Customers
Five strategies for boosting your business with high net worth clients
Ever notice that sometimes folks act differently around wealthy people? I think it’s because (whether we admit it or not) most of us want rich people to like and accept us. After all, it’s not a bad thing when high net worth individuals want to do business with you. The problem I’ve noticed as a customer service strategist, is that sometimes when employees interact with customers who they perceive to be of higher status, they try too hard to impress. Or at the other extreme, some employees become too submissive ie. a doormat. Here are five strategies for building stronger relationships with high net worth customers. (Oh, and they happen to also work with the rest of your customers as well).
1. Get clear about your status
There’s no upside to acting either superior or inferior to your customers. If you act superior, you come across as arrogant and customers won’t like you. If you act inferior, you’ll be perceived as obsequious and customers won’t respect you. Better to put yourself at the same status as your customers. As they say at the Ritz Carlton, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”
The question is, what’s the relationship that customers value most with service providers? I’ll tell you what it’s not. Your relationship goal is not to become your customer’s friend. Your customers already have their own friends – and they’re free. What customers value is a service provider who they regard as their Trusted Advisor. Customers will pay a premium (and show more respect) when dealing with a trusted advisor.
2. Earn early respect
When I’m conducting seminars for organizations whose customers are sometimes demanding, rushed, or frustrated, we talk about the importance of earning early respect. That means if a customer is trying to talk with you while chatting on their cellphone, it’s best to smile and respond with, “I’ll take care of you as soon as you’re finished your call.” If a customer asks you a question while staring down at their paperwork, don’t answer their question. Instead, wait till they actually look you in the eye, then say “Hello. Yes, I can help you with that.” By waiting until you have the person’s undivided attention, you convey that you are a human – not a doormat – who is worthy of respect. Customers are happier dealing with employees who earn their respect. Everyone wins.
3. Prove you’re somebody
In general, when you introduce yourself to customers, share your first and last name. Often we just tell people our first name because we are being casual – like friends, right? But remember, you’re not trying to be your customer’s pal, you want to be seen as their trusted advisor. More importantly when you share your last name, you instantly convey the message, “If you have a question or concern you should ask for me (which is why I’m giving my full name). I’m not trying to hide or be anonymous. I’m comfortable being held accountable.” All by simply using first and last names. Easy and powerful
4. Listen more. Talk Less.
Perhaps the quickest way to turn-off customers is talking too much. Or talking when we should be listening. When listening, try to understand what lies beneath the customer’s surface request. The more you demonstrate that you understand your customer’s unexpressed and eventual needs, the more you’ll be seen as a trusted advisor.
5. Be the go-to person
Customers sometimes have requests that don’t fall neatly into your existing procedures. So, you may have to check with a senior manager. When you’re in that position, do not tell your customer, “I’ll have to go ask my manager.” That makes the customer feel like they’re wasting their time dealing with you. It makes you look like you haven’t been adequately trained or trusted. And it makes your manager look like a micro-manager. Instead, tell the customer, “Let me look into this and see what I can come up with for you.” That’s right, I’m encouraging you to take the credit for the decision. That reflects more positively on everyone, including your manager.
Interestingly, dealing with high net worth clients is the same as dealing with any other customer. Everyone – including you and your team members – deserves respect and attention. Beyond these tips, the most important way to earn your customers’ trust and loyalty is to keep your promises; no matter what it costs you. That’s of course why we call it becoming a trusted advisor.