David Ackert is the president and CEO of Ackert, Inc, the company behind PipelinePlus.
Most of us follow a client meeting by diving back into our email. (After all, while we were chatting away with a live human being, twenty new messages funneled into our inbox.)
But consider that you'd be better served by taking a moment to assess your progress in therelationship. Client loyalty lies not only in your ability to service their immediate needs, but is just as much a function of the personal dynamic you share. Did you ask them how their daughter is doing in college or did you rush them out the door so you could make your noon lunch? Did you deepen your understanding about their long-term business goals or were you too eager to jump into today's agenda? Here's an easy rating scale that will help you assess your effectiveness in connecting with them:
Perfunctory connection: We completed our agenda for the meeting, but we didn't advance our relationship. Zero points.
Good connection: We improved our connection slightly. I'm no longer afraid to send them a client satisfaction survey. One point.
Excellent connection: We improved our connection considerably. I'm sending them a dinner invitation this weekend. Two points.
Yes, it's just a gut-check, but it's still valuable. Chances are, if you experienced higher scores, they probably did too. And the higher the score, the better their loyalty—and the more likely your client will expand their work with you and refer their colleagues to you. Besides the business advantage, this routine also serves as a subtle reminder to yourself that each of your interactions is an opportunity for something more meaningful than just an exchange of information and/or services. The quality of human connection is a key factor in the personal satisfaction you will derive from your professional interactions.