Each day we work our way through a seemingly endless influx of emails, deadlines, and client demands. Perhaps as a survival mechanism, we tell ourselves that if we can just keep our heads above water and meet our client’s service expectations, we will get by. Unfortunately, ever since Al Gore invented the Internet, our clients have gained easy access to our competitors. They need only to type a few words into their search engine or read the emphatic updates of their Facebook friends or check their inbox for e-newsletters to be exposed to a competitor who does exactly what we do and claims to do it better.
But don’t worry, all the marketing in the world can’t compete with a strong client relationship. I’m sure you’ve not only done great work for your clients, but you’ve shown a genuine interest in their success. You’ve invested time off the clock to add value beyond the basic services they purchased from you, and you’ve made sure to stay in touch on a regular basis.
Well, if the air around you just thickened with dread, it’s time to add value, because doing good work is the minimum requirement. After all, when your clients agreed to hire you, they weren't expecting mediocre service only to be pleasantly surprised when you provided quality—they expected that you’d be exceptional. And assuming that you were, they rewarded you with money, thus completing the transaction. So, while your work product contributed to their loyalty, it didn't ensure it. For that, you have to invest in a human connection and prove to them that you care about more than their money. Once they see that your investment goes beyond the basic transaction, they will be much more likely to stick with you for the long haul, because your services are a commodity. But your relationships are not.
So take a few minutes out of your day today to call your top client. Tell them they were on your mind and that you wanted to check in with them. Ask them if there have been any more developments on the last project you worked on with them, and what their biggest concerns are now. If you have a resource or introduction that will help them, offer it. If you don’t, just listen and empathize. Often, that alone is service enough. And it’s the kind of thoughtfulness that money can’t buy.
Authored by David Ackert