What baked goods can teach us about client relationships

Andrea Howe
Category : Weekly tips January 13, 2015

This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

Five years ago I was surprised by a knock at the door—an unexpected delivery of baked goods from a local sweet shop. The package included a hand-written note from Kacy, the office organizer I had hired exactly one year before. The sweets were to commemorate my first anniversary in my new home office, with a reminder that she was available should any lingering piles be in my way, and a no-obligation request to tell others about her services if I was so inclined.

I immediately logged onto Facebook (well, by “immediately” I mean right after I ate a cookie) and posted kudos for Kacy, along with a link to her web site. (And I’ve referred her many times since. For years.)

While this might seem like a great marketing story, don’t be fooled; Kacy’s actions are as much about deepening client relationships as they are about marketing. And anyone in any role can learn and benefit from her best practices.

In the parlance of the trust equation, Kacy’s gesture was a clear demonstration of high intimacy and low self-orientation, with a little dash of credibility in the mix as well:

  • Kacy acknowledged me, in a very personal way
  • She let me know she cared about me—enough to keep track of, and commemorate, the anniversary of our work together
  • Kacy was generous, without expectation of return (which, by the way, is why I felt inspired, not obligated, to refer her)
  • She had the confidence to ask for more work.

Plus there’s one other great lesson here: Being in touch with clients takes focus and effort, not time. One touch-point in a twelve month period might be plenty, if it’s the right touch point.

Make It Real

This week, think about clients with whom you’d like to stay in touch. Make a list. What meaningful milestones might you track and acknowledge? What gesture might you make that’s distinctive, genuine, and simple?

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Andrea Howe

Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).

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