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Yes, the Rich Are Different — Here Are 5 Customer Service Secrets I Learned While Working With Wealthy Clients If you want to win — and keep — wealthy clients (aka, HNWIs), exceptional customer service training is the golden ticket that will bring you success.

By Micah Solomon Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The rich, indeed, are different when it comes to their customer service expectations. Your company needs to deploy a sophisticated, personalized and thoughtful approach to customer service if you want to succeed with high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) as customers or clients. Here are five factors I consider in my customer service consulting practice and in the customer service training and experiences I design and deploy for companies.

Related: 8 Things I Discovered While Working With Affluent Clients in New York City

1. Higher customer service expectations

The high (but generally unspoken) expectations that HNWIs and UHNWIs have for customer service can be daunting — but you need to embrace the challenge of matching these if you want to have any success. The expectations of the affluent for what "good" and "exceptional" customer service should look like have been set by their daily experiences with a rarefied group of providers who have led them to expect to receive the highest level of customer service and hospitality, whether at luxury hotels, restaurants or high-end car dealerships.

Therefore, when they step into a different walk of consumerism — say, working with a financial advisor or taking care of their routine or urgent healthcare needs — they bring these expectations with them. This is why organizations that have had some success at matching these service expectations — the Executive Health practices at Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic or Johns Hopkins, let's say — need to actually provide and sustain a level of customer service that is consonant with what HNWIs and UHNWIs have grown used to in other aspects of their lives.

Related: How to Turn an Upset Customer Into Your Company's Best Advocate

2. Employees' frame of reference rarely align with HNWIs

An issue here is the disconnection between the lifestyles of high-net-worth clients and that of a company's employees tasked with serving them. For example, the idea of self-insuring with a 10% deductible in an insurance policy might seem insane to a customer support employee living paycheck to paycheck (though I do hope that's a good paycheck you're providing them!) it could be a smart financial move for a customer with high net worth.

This is a tricky issue to solve for. It can benefit from customized customer service training, either live and in person or in an eLearning format where examples and hypotheticals can be better reviewed and learned.

Related: These 2 Crucial Customer Service Moments Give You 80% Of Your Value — Here's How to Capitalize on Them

3. Keep your eye on the value equation

In any such customer service training or standards setting that you engage in, what you want to make central is this:

The value equation (Value = Personal Benefit - Cost and Inconvenience) and how these variables are "filled in" by the affluent as opposed to the rest of us. If you always keep in mind that the value equation is likely to be calculated differently by a high net worth customer, with a lower valuation placed on [what are for them] modest sums of money and more value placed on reducing inconvenience and maximizing nonfinancial personal benefit, then you'll soon be on the right track.

Customer service training for agents who will be representing your brand to a high net worth client population should involve not only essential but general customer service skills, including "situational empathy" and behavioral expectations but also stress the specific behaviors and mindset that will allow for more predictable success with the affluent.

Part of this unique customer service training should be focused on taking into account the different realities of the agent's life compared to that of the customer and some on behavioral expectations that literally may not have occurred to the agent as issues: potential language missteps on the telephone, and correspondence pitfalls for emails sent out to HNWI clients as well.

As far as the specialized module of customer service training called "customer service recovery" (the training that focuses on situations where things go wrong), consider this: while the usual calculation of what insurance owes a client may be based on "fairness," it doesn't fully capture the emotional impact of a loss for a high net worth individual. One of my favorite stories to illustrate this point is from an insurance company specializing in high-net-worth clients. When one client's family lost their cherished collection of Christmas tree ornaments in a house fire, the insurance company's staff went above and beyond to replace the entire collection, demonstrating their commitment to helping clients restore their sense of wholeness.

4. Unconventional customer experience expectations

It's important that you avoid making trite assumptions about what customers want. Especially when working with those HNWIs who consider themselves "self-made," be aware that their ideas of what a tailored, bespoke experience should entail may not align with conventional expectations of service. While it is essential that HNWIs and UHNWIs should experience the same quality of customer service as anyone else, it is essential that their service experience is tailored to their specific needs and values.

Related: Good Customer Service is a Disappearing Art — Here's How You Can Be Different

5. Protect their privacy and never let them feel you're taking advantage

HNWIs and UHNWIs value their privacy and will always fiercely protect it. Companies dealing with high-net-worth individuals mustn't jeopardize their client relationships with their marketing efforts or data collection practices. Over-sharing, over-fertilizing, or over-selling is offputting to HNWIs and UHNWIs. Casual faux-familiarity (generic "dear friend" letters) can undermine the carefully cultivated relationship between HNWIs, UHNWIs, and their service providers and turn them off from engaging further with that establishment.

Related and very important to remember and incorporate into your customer service training is the need, among HNWIs, for reassurance that they're not being taken advantage of. HNWIs don't necessarily mind spending more to get more. But they do get suspicious of being taken advantage of since they know they make an appealing and potentially easy target! Reassurance — taking pains to avoid making the client feel foolish or like a mark being hustled — goes a long way here.

Micah Solomon

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Customer Service Consultant, Trainer

Customer service transformation expert, consultant, author, keynote speaker. Named "World's #1 customer service transformation expert" by Inc. Magazine. Reachable at Very happy to hear from any readers at any time.

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