The most valuable lesson I’ve learned about client relationships in my nearly twenty years of practicing law came from my good friend and nail technician, Michael Tran.
At the grand opening for Michael’s salon, I was blown away by the gorgeous wooden floors, the lush pedicure chairs and the palpable joy in the air—the natural byproduct of dreams being transformed into reality.
But what stood out to me most amongst all the new and shiny things was an iced cold can of Diet Mountain Dew sitting in the drink holder of my pedicure chair.
When I saw it, the smile on my face doubled in size and I got tears in my eyes.
I know what you’re thinking “Seriously? Tears? Over a can of soda?”
But not over a soda per se- but over what that soda meant.
Through the years, I had arrived for my bi-weekly appointments with him with my polish in one hand and my Diet Mountain Dew can in the other.
It was a long-running joke between us that I would go into withdrawals if I forgot it.
That can in the drink holder told me that in spite of everything Michael had been doing to get his new business up and running, he had taken the time to specifically think about me and what would make me happy.
The cost of the gesture? Fifty cents.
The impact it had? Priceless.
Whenever I am working with clients, I ask myself three questions to try and provide them with their “Diet Mountain Dew experience”:
- Am I experiencing this through my client’s eyes? While each client is different, there is one important similarity most of them share: they are embarking on something new to them. I cannot allow my familiarity with the process to blind me to their excitement and uncertainty. To deliver the best service, I must see things through fresh eyes- their eyes- every single time.
- Am I paying attention to what they want? When different clients have similar issues, it’s easy to assume what they need is likewise similar. However, each client is unique. What made Michael’s gesture so meaningful was that he noticed and responded to my specific desires. He could have easily offered me a Diet Coke. Most of his other clients would have preferred that in fact. It also would have served the same purpose- to quench my thirst. But it wasn’t what I wanted. He gave me a couture experience (Did you ever expect to hear Diet Mountain Dew described as couture?) rather than mass retail.
- Do they know they are important to me? I have heard many entrepreneurs agonize over their lack of a business development budget. Michael’s act reminded me that letting a customer know they matter requires something far cheaper- and yet so much more valuable- than expensive gifts. It takes excellent work, kindness and authenticity.
What is your client’s equivalent of my Diet Mountain Dew can?
If you can figure that out and then provide it, they won’t forget it- or you.
Trust me on that one.