Broker Check

Use the "Surprise & Delight" Process to Build Client Loyalty

June 09, 2021

Building Customer Loyalty with Thoughtful Action

One of the most effective ways to nurture client relationships and enhance customer loyalty is implementing a “Surprise & Delight” process. This is a way to show your clients that you're thinking about them, and that you care about what’s important to them. In fact, studies show that memorable experiences created by a "Surprise and Delight" effort make clients feel more listened to and more appreciated. “Surprise and Delight” has a direct impact on retaining clients as well as acquiring new clients through referrals. Aim to deliver one Surprise and Delight for each client per year; remember to segment your list to allow for budget, time management and level of opportunity.

Here are a few best practices to follow when building out a “Surprise and Delight” process:

  • Make it personal! The more unique and specific you can make a “Surprise and Delight” opportunity, the more it will mean to your client.

  • Segment your list. Identify top clients that you want to focus on with more personal “Surprise and Delight” opportunities. Identify hobbies, upcoming events and life stages.

  • Pro-Tip: Create subgroups of clients with similar interests and streamline your strategy.

  • Look for opportunities to automate “Surprise and Delight” clients in lower service level client segments. Doing so will create a positive experience for clients while managing your time.

  • Determine a strategy for common life events such as weddings, births, deaths, anniversaries and illness. This way, when those life events arise, it’s easy to implement while still being very personal.

  • Look ahead for any notable client life events coming up and plan accordingly.

  • Stay compliant by keeping gift costs at or below $100 per client per year. Track and log appropriately.

  • Review meeting notes and ask more in-depth questions to uncover a wealth of potential “Surprise and Delight” opportunities.

  • Vet your vendors. We’ve provided some vendor options but do your research to be sure they align with your practice. This guide is not an endorsement of any particular vendor. Vendor options are provided as food for thought only.

  • Shop local for unique and tailored gifts while also supporting small businesses.

Here are examples of different opportunities to “Surprise and Delight” clients. Consider including this process in both day-to-day activities and when the opportunity presents itself. When possible, implement and follow a standard to select gifts tailored to the individual client to maximize impact.

Office “Surprise and Delight”
Make your client feel like a VIP when they visit your office by reserving a special parking spot with their name on it. Purchase nice-looking signage that can be changed for each appointment.

  • Make your client feel like a VIP when they visit your office by reserving a special parking spot with their name on it. Purchase nice-looking signage that can be changed for each appointment.
  • Take note of your client’s favorite beverage and have it ready. Serve clients refreshments in nice glasses, cups, or even fine china.
  • Send handwritten notes on premium quality paper. Few people do this anymore, but it’s great for new clients or following appointments!
  • Before a meeting, refresh yourself on your client’s family members’ names and recent events in their life. Acknowledge any significant events or updates since your last conversation or review; be sure to use their names.
  • Make a personal phone call to check in on any notable events in a client’s life. Take meticulous notes for future “Surprise and Delight” opportunities.
  • Celebrate birthdays. You can send out handwritten cards, customized greeting cards, or even an email. MyCMO has several excellent options for this!
  • Host client events, even virtually. Events are an opportunity to get face time with clients in a less formal setting than your regular review. It’s also an opportunity for clients to bring potential referrals.

Life Events

  • Send college apparel or memorabilia to clients when their child or grandchild gets accepted to or graduates from college.
  • Send travel books, maps, or food guides to clients who are getting ready to take a dream trip.
  • For top clients, organize their retirement party by coordinating the location, food, and drinks. This is a fantastic way to meet their friends and family and position yourself to retain assets over time and across generations.
  • For retiring clients, create a gift basket full of fun items based on what they are looking forward to doing in retirement. Traveling, gardening, golfing, a new hobby – the sky is the limit!
  • Send an engraved picture frame, piggy bank, or customized blanket to clients welcoming a new baby into the family.
  • For a bride-to-be, send a bouquet to her place of work before the wedding.
  • Send meals to clients going through a difficult life situation. Divorce, a single parent homeschooling their children, health ailment, or the passing of a loved one are all opportunities to help out with a meal or two.
  • Anytime there is a notable event in someone’s life, mail a card with a customized message. 
  • Celebrate the addition of a new four-legged family member by creating a customized gift for the pet owner such as a pet tag, key chain with an image, or fun pet treats.
  • Books! This a great way to acknowledge a person’s hobbies, passions, or current goals. Put a handwritten note inside the front cover. Cookbooks, travel, and hobby books are great options!
  • For clients buying a first home or making a big move, send along a housewarming gift. Lovely candles, a custom mailing stamp, fancy hand soaps or a custom cutting board make great gifts.
  • Purchase a gift card for live local entertainment like sports, art, or theater (be sure to stay under the $100 limit!). Most gift cards can be used to purchase tickets, concessions, or merchandise at the venue.

Client Anniversary/Birthday/Wedding Anniversary

  • Take the client (plus spouse) to a nice meal. Only discuss personal matters, no business!
  • Send a nice bottle of champagne/wine for notable anniversaries like their wedding. Be sure your client is within the state; USPS will not ship alcohol across state lines under any circumstances. UPS and FedEx take a different stance, though neither makes it simple. Instead, consider using a service like Drizly and put in the receiver’s address directly for delivery.
  • Remember, not all "Surprise and Delight" efforts have to be expensive. Even a small gift with a handwritten note can be meaningful, if it's the right gift at the right time.
  • Deliver a small treat with a handwritten note expressing thanks for new clients coming up on their first client anniversary.
  • For significant wedding anniversaries, follow the anniversary themes and send a thoughtful gift to celebrate their time together. Get creative to stay under the $100 limit.


  • Partner with a local bakery to hand-deliver or have clients pick up holiday pies or treats before Thanksgiving or during the winter holidays.
  • Send a fresh wreath or garland for the holidays to bring a new spin on flowers and increase the merriment with great fragrance!
  • Hand-deliver a bottle of champagne, fun hats, and festive flutes for New Year’s celebrations.
  • Culinarily inclined? Whip up some goodies in disposable dishes that clients can bake during their festivities, such as dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, pies, or bread.
  • Provide families with all the trimmings to assemble gingerbread houses. Include some fun candies and a meaningful note as well!
  • Send clients an ornament that captures the spirit of the year or an interest they may have.
  • Send clients who are newly married or new parents a commemorative ornament.
  • Donate to a cause in honor of clients. Pick an organization that resonates with the current climate or one of importance to you. Send along a card or postcard to clients with a heartfelt message and information on the organization. There are also donation options that allow clients to pick their charity!

Death of a Loved One

  • Plant a tree for a deceased client or on behalf of a client’s loved one. Companies like will take care of everything for you!
  • Donate to a cause or organization on behalf of your client or a client’s loved one. Most charities will send an acknowledgment to the family.
  • Deliver flowers or a potted plant to the funeral home or client’s home.
  • Send pre-printed cards and stamps to make following up with well-wishers easier for clients. Include a potted plant (lilies are traditional) and a small gift.
  • Send something other than flowers to the family; options include a windchime, photo frame, or even a plant that can be planted in remembrance.
  • Check obituaries for “in lieu of” and follow the wishes of the family.
  • Send flowers to widowed clients on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day events are also a great way to support widows with an activity and introduce them to a support network.
  • In the event of losing a spouse, look for opportunities to lift the burden on home management. This could include house cleaning, yard upkeep, childcare, snow removal, or food delivery.
  • Check-in later in the year after a loved one’s passing by making a phone call, sending a card, or finding ways to support. Many times, support is available immediately following the death but tapers off.
  • Depending on the loss, call, send a card or deliver flowers on the deceased’s birthday or anniversary of their death. Make sure this is appropriate for the client and their wishes.

Get Well

  • Send a meal to those not feeling well or recovering from a health ailment. You can hand deliver from a favorite restaurant, order through a delivery service such as Uber Eats or Door Dash, or even send along a virtual gift card. Extra points for a home-cooked meal!
  • Send a handwritten card along with a Giggling Happy Pill fun plush toy to bring a smile to someone under the weather. Search for “Giggling Happy Pill” online for different purchase options. Sounds cheesy, but we promise they’ll love it.
  • Arrange for a cleaning or yard service to visit the client’s home to help manage the upkeep.

Access our Surprise & Delight Guide for more custom, holiday, unique gift ideas and additional resources! Surprise & Delight Guide

If you are interested in discussing any of these topics further, contact me a call at (916) 932-4101 ext. 12.

Written by Securities America for distribution by Robert Santoriello