When it comes to serving your clients, do you follow a specific model that drives your behavior or are you winging it? Do you think your clients can tell the difference? You bet they can. Unfortunately, most financial professionals are winging it when it comes to how they stay in touch with their clients and how they provide ongoing client service.

Many of the most successful financial professionals I have interviewed have a specific client service model. It drives their behavior as well as the behavior of their staff. Here are some important things to consider as you create your own model.

3 types of client interaction

1. Transactional – You and your staff must have the systems in place and the standards set that allow you to deliver superior transactional service. Good systems help keep you from making mistakes. Good standards ensure proper response times. Great transactional service should be a given. Every one of your clients expects this from you. It’s enough to keep many of your clients with you, but it won’t create true client loyalty or generate referrals. There has to be more to your relationships.

2. Value added – Here’s where you have a chance to start building loyalty and referability. You probably already know if you don’t continue to add value to the relationship, then you are no longer necessary. For your “A “clients, you should think of 12 touches per year. The number of meetings you have are determined by the complexity of their situation. Many advisors are turning to a concept I call “themed meetings.” They create a value-centered theme for each meeting and most of their phone calls. If you’d like some ideas about themed meetings, just send an email to info@referralcoach.com and put the words “Themed Meetings Report” in the subject line. We’ll get this free report to you right away.

3. Business friendships – When I talk about business friendships, I don’t mean telling your clients your deepest, darkest secrets. I mean getting to know your clients on a more personal level and letting them know you in that way. It amazes me how many advisors think they have to keep an arms-length distance from their clients. The truth is most of your clients would like you to be their business friend.

One advisor I was talking to recently told me he’s convinced the only part of his newsletter his clients read is the section about his family and other personal interests.

There are many things you can do to establish and enhance your business friendships. Client appreciation events are a common and effective way. More personal events, such as dinner, lunch, a round of golf or a trip to the theater, are also effective. Following your clients’ sports interests or the progress of their children are two great things to do.

There is something magical that can happen in a business relationship when you break bread at a client’s house or yours. Don’t miss these opportunities. In fact, structure them into your client service model.

Make a list of everything you can do to build value for your clients and everything you can do to build business friendships. Now you are ready to start your client service matrix.

Segment your client base

The ideal way to craft your client-service model is to think in terms of a matrix. To do this, you must first segment your client list into A, B, C, and why clients. (Your why clients are the ones you’ve had for many years, and you wonder why you keep them on the books.) The concept of segmenting your book is certainly not a new one. But have you done it? Have you done it lately?

If you want to keep and attract more A clients, you need to be perfectly clear on who is an A client for you. Clear intentions produce clear results. Vague intentions produce vague results. Are you crystal clear on who you want to attract to your business? Have you written it down? Does everyone on your staff or team know? Can you articulate it clearly and succinctly with your clients?

Now take that list of everything you can do to add value and build business friendships and create a matrix. Your A clients get everything. They get the first-class “wow” treatment. Your B clients get a subset of that list, and your C clients get a little less.

Too much to do right now?

Does the thought of this matrix seem a bit daunting? Maybe you have a lot of clients. OK — at least do this for your A clients. To keep your clients loyal and to stimulate more referrals, work from a client-service model. Get your A clients to see and feel the difference in how you are attending to them. Stop winging it when it comes to client service. Have a plan and follow it.

For more on referrals, see:

Calling your new referral prospects

7 proven ways to get referrals without asking

4 steps to building a referral-boosting CPA alliance

Bill Cates recently released The Referral Advantage Video Training Program. He is the author of “Get More Referrals Now!” and “Don’t Keep Me a Secret!” and is offering a free subscription to his referral newsletter. Go to www.referralminute.com. To contact Bill, send him an email: info@referralcoach.com.