When running a business, competition is always tough, especially in a shaky economy. How do you stand out in the crowd? And once you establish your client base, how do you keep your clients happy?

A sure-fire way to distinguish yourself from your rivals is by offering outstanding customer service, which is something we strive for here at Mid Atlantic.

Recently, Mid Atlantic Capital Corporation and Institutional Services Group CEO Tim Friday were featured in an article for Research Magazine on ThinkAdvisor’s website, highlighting our use of the WOW program as a means to create a unique customer experience. The catalyst for the WOW program at Mid Atlantic is another person featured in the article, John L. Evans Jr., executive director of Janus Labs, based in Denver. His motivational speech, “The Art of Wow,” was presented at Mid Atlantic’s National Conference in 2010 and really struck a chord with Tim.

“I felt the one thing missing from our business model was a deep, personal connection to our clients and vendors. The WOW program gives us the chance to interact on a much more intimate level.”

Mid Atlantic’s group of WOW Czars and Czarinas have bestowed a varied array of surprises on their unsuspecting recipients, including face-to-face training sessions, a video champagne toast (disguised as a work-related conference call), and a visit by some Mid Atlantic employees to an open house of a nearby representative’s new office space. Alan Stricker, a Mid Atlantic representative living in Minnesota, was thrilled to receive a pair of tech-friendly gloves that make it possible for him to use his smartphone in the cold weather while still keeping his hands warm.

Tim thinks that building relationships is just as important as building business. “Our clients and partners appreciate that we are observant and take the time to recognize what is important to them, or what they might be going through at the time.”

Anyone can replicate the WOW experience for their clients. Part of the financial planning process is to help clients navigate life experiences that are inevitable. Your clients will give you the cues, whether you realize it or not. The key is to truly listen to what they’re saying. The rewards go both ways. Tim says, “Think of it as giving a very thoughtful gift that took days or weeks to choose. The reality is, who gets more from the action, the giver or the receiver?”