The holiday season is in full swing. As year-end rolls in, it is an opportune time to reflect on how much we appreciate our family, staff, friends and clients. As I think about appreciation, I'm fine with admitting that it feels a lot nicer when it's a two-way street.
It seems like an appropriate time to ask ourselves two important questions. First, do our clients really appreciate us? Second, do our clients know how much we really appreciate them?
DO OUR CLIENTS REALLY APPRECIATE US?
Many of us work with clients who will never be grateful for how much we care about them, no matter what we do. After all, there are people in this world who can only see what they don't have and what you don't do for them, and who will never appreciate what you do for them every day. People like that can be draining and can cost you far more than you might actually realize. It's a drag not just for you, but for all of your team members who work with them, too. Energy and goodwill are two of the biggest assets of any service company, and that probably includes your business. Are you managing them as an asset?
It's helpful to think about your clients and ask yourself if they really appreciate the work you do for them. When your clients are not grateful for what you do for them, you spend most of your meetings with them defending yourself rather than helping them, which is not a winning outcome for you or your client. You also run the risk of spending too much time on them, ending up exhausted and not having enough energy for the clients who do appreciate you. The mindset of the client always being right might be true when you rent someone a hotel room, but not when you are trying to give guidance to someone on life-changing events. Our clients can often be wrong or misguided in their thinking, and we get paid to help them see when they are.
DO OUR CLIENTS KNOW HOW MUCH WE CARE?
We work in an incredibly tough industry with very high demands and expectations. Very often, while we are there to serve their needs, we don't fully express to our clients how much we appreciate and enjoy what we do.
Instead of feeling like you should send your client a gift this holiday season, why not take the next set of meetings and end them by saying, “I just want to thank you for letting me help you. I love what I do and it gives my life meaning.” See how your clients react to your purpose so clearly stated. We often think that our actions demonstrate our appreciation for our clients, but for most, words are more powerful than actions.
On that note, let me end by saying that I genuinely appreciate your interest in this column. I sincerely hope that these articles help improve your life in a way. It is what makes my life meaningful. Really!
Joe Duran is chief executive of United Capital Financial Advisers. Follow him @DuranMoney