Last week, we examined how to establish your client service standards, which we defined as the basic standards for service you commit to providing to all clients. These standards would typically include administrative and operational items, as well as client communication and educational opportunities that are delivered on a one-to-many basis.
Beyond your basic client service standards, you probably want to recognize your best clients in ways that might be difficult or too expensive to provide to everyone. Client recognition items include cards and gifts for special occasions, as well as events you might host for small or larger groups of your top clients. They are not service items, per se, but rather ways you express appreciation for your clients’ loyalty.
So, what is the best (and easiest) way to segment your clients so you can remain consistent in who gets what? Note that consistency is critical. While nothing is forever in this life, don’t start something that establishes expectations on the part of clients, such as birthday or holiday remembrances, that you can’t commit to continuing.
Over the years, many segmentation “systems” have been devised with varying levels of complexity, including complicated scoring processes that require periodic updating to make sure each client is classified appropriately.
Here’s a very simple segmentation plan that we recommend:
- Group A – ideal clients. They meet your requirement for assets and revenue, plus they need, want and value what you do for them. They are the clients you would like to clone.
- Group B – pre-ideal clients. They are just like your ideal clients in that they need, want and value what you do, but they don’t yet meet the level of assets and revenue of your ideal clients. However, you have every reason to believe they will be ideal in the foreseeable future.
- Group C – exceptions. You don’t expect exceptions ever to become ideal, but you have decided to take them or keep them as clients for reasons that make good business sense to you.
What makes this type of segmentation plan easy to use is that once a client has been segmented in your client relationship management system, you almost never need to reclassify them (unless they go from pre-ideal to ideal), and you are likely to know which group they are in without having to check.
The next step is to define the client recognition items you want to provide to all three groups of clients. Typically, they would be limited to whatever you can do easily and inexpensively, such as birthday and/or holiday emails or cards.
Then, consider the “extras” you want to provide to your pre-ideal and ideal clients, how you demonstrate your appreciation for the opportunity to serve these clients, such as invitations to social gatherings and special educational opportunities, as well as recognition for their milestone events, etc.
Finally, you want to decide on the special things you will do only for your ideal clients, such as hosting a retirement party or taking them to lunch or dinner. You could also include surprises – the little unexpected things you do to let them know you’re thinking of them – a travel book or journal for their special vacation, a housewarming gift or something to celebrate the birth of a grandchild.
A simple but structured approach to client segmentation and recognition, reviewed and updated annually and then implemented consistently, enables you to be intentional rather than reactive in building strong relationships with your best clients.