Surprise and delight your clients—and boost client satisfaction

Key Points

  • Find out something new about your clients to create experiences they'll remember and appreciate.

  • Get organized. Make sure you record in your CRM system details from conversations and past gifts so that you're tuned in to what matters to them.

  • Even a small gesture can go a long way. Over time, showing clients you really know them can help strengthen your relationship.


Recognizing clients with tokens of appreciation can go a long way toward strengthening your relationship. Giving a personalized gift that shows you see your client for the unique person they are and care about them, can significantly deepen your relationships. Plus, it's fun to do things for people that they will remember and appreciate.

The first step is understanding their passions, their values, and even the things they don't like. Chances are, when clients meet with you, they talk about their lives, not just their finances. Each meeting is a chance to pick up clues that can help you turn those personal connections into meaningful gestures.

Just remember: When giving or receiving gifts, always check with SEC regulations as well as your firm's policy to ensure you’re in compliance.

Here are five steps to help you take client appreciation to a new level.

Evaluate how well you know your clients. 

To start, take inventory of how much you know about each client's personal life, background, and interests. Then look for areas where you can dig deeper. Consider adding this exercise into your preparation before your next client meeting.

Ask yourself these questions about each client:

  • Who are the people most important to them? (Have you met or worked with any of these people?)
  • What are their hobbies or passions? (What level? Beginner, aficionado?)
  • What critical experiences have shaped them?
  • What places or traditions hold special meaning for them?

If your knowledge is lacking, create a notification in your CRM system to remind you to ask questions and learn more. Revisit these questions periodically to add new insights.

Find out how they cope with everyday challenges. 

The main highlights of a client's personal life, such as a passion for surfing or annual trips to Paris, reveal one side of life. But the way a client manages ups and downs (big and small) can help you understand them more deeply. To get at these details, ask how they're handling a current challenge, such as managing work-life balance or dealing with a health challenge. Their answers can give you insight into a gift or gesture of appreciation that might be particularly welcome at that moment.

Learn about their new interests. 

As clients move through different stages of life, their old passions may take a backseat as new interests emerge. Maybe they've started restoring an old boat, taken up dance classes, or begun learning a new language. Recognizing and encouraging these new paths can give your client a boost as you cheer on their personal growth. Ask them about new interests or passions, then send a good book or timely article on a topic they mentioned. Your clients' interests may also lead you into relationships with new prospects. For example, after you express interest in your client's sailboat, you might join in a day of sailing and meet several of their friends.

Keep track of your efforts. 

Taking a systematic approach to client appreciation can make your job easier and help you identify thoughtful gifts. Use your CRM system to jot down personal details you can refer to later and notes about gifts you've sent or are planning to send. Before each meeting or call, review these details to refresh your memory and make note of topics to revisit or follow-up questions you want to ask. Recording the little details that come up during your conversations can help you tailor your client gifts to the individual and find ways to reach out when it matters most.

Look for unexpected opportunities to show you care. 

Sending a thoughtful gesture when a client is going through something difficult or a congratulatory gift to mark a special occasion can be a great way to show you care. In addition to those opportunities, consider sending a gift or note out of the blue, just because you were thinking of them. The element of surprise can help your gesture stand out and make your token of appreciation more meaningful. You can even pre-schedule these "spontaneous" gestures in your calendar.

Let clients know you hear them

As an advisor, you know the importance of relationships. When clients feel seen, understood, and valued, their trust in you grows deeper. Finding ways to show your appreciation through gifts and messages that demonstrate your personal connection can help you develop strong ties that keep your clients coming back year after year.

What you can do next

  • Keep these best practices handy and find more ways to engage your clients.
  • Consider a custodian that invests in your success. If you're thinking about becoming an independent advisor, contact us to learn more about the benefits of a custodial relationship with Schwab.

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