Our team members don’t always have to leave the office to go on a journey with a client. Sometimes they can make meaningful progress without getting up from their desks.
For our out-of-state clients, we handle most of our work through web servers and conduct most of our important conversations over the phone or email. This means we’ll rarely get to see them in person, which makes it even more important to be relational in everything we do.
One year, we engaged a new client who kept his communication short, sweet, and professional. There wasn’t anything wrong with his emails or phone calls, but the relationship never extended beyond his occasional question or our persistent requests.
He told Kristie, who was working on his audit at the time, that he would be out of the country visiting Toronto for about two weeks, and that he would call her when he got back. Sure enough, two weeks later, her phone rang. Based on all their previous all-business conversations, Kristie was surprised to spend over half an hour chatting about his trip, his family, and how central Indiana’s weather is basically no different than Canada’s.
Crossing the kindness barrier
The moment our clients begin to share about their lives beyond the audit is the moment we begin to serve them exceptionally well. After that phone call, Kristie’s relationship with the client shifted dramatically. They could joke with each other and ask questions more boldly, trusting each other to handle them well.
Not every client relationship needs to involve a personal connection, and many companies work well by operating through strictly professional relationships. We know from experience that our model relies heavily on anticipating clients’ needs and learning to serve them well year after year. That’s why we value crossing the boundary of professionalism that can stifle meaningful, personal connections.