Seeing an image of two colleagues having coffee seems so distant today. I have missed these personal, one-on-one interactions the most during this global COVID-19 pandemic. When we get back to the new normal, I hope that I won’t take these seemingly simple aspects of life for granted.
Those of us in professional services are in the relationship business. Clients choose us based upon a relationship of respect and trust. I’ve thought a lot about client relationships these past few weeks. In particular, what should we be doing now with regard to our relationship with clients? It’s not an obvious or easy question during these ambiguous times.
So much depends on the nature of your work. For some, this pandemic has made our services more needed than ever before. For example, many accountants, attorneys and financial advisors have been super busy helping small business owners figure our the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program). For others, the need for our services has been placed on hold. What we do may be not a top priority at this time. I’ve heard from many colleagues that their work stopped abruptly in mid-March.
Independent of where you fall on this spectrum, here are three things each of us can be doing right now that will strengthen our position when we begin to return to normal.
Idea #1: Be Helpful
Look for ways to help your clients. I’ve been impressed with the creative ways in which colleagues have found to be helpful. So, if you are in a position to be helpful, do so. Don’t worry about getting paid for your help. Be helpful without the expectation of getting something in return. When things normalize again, colleagues and clients will remember those who were helpful in navigating through these uncertain and complex times. Take 15 minutes today to think about ways you can be helpful to your clients in these times.
Idea #2: Be Thoughtful
Let your clients know you’re thinking about them. All meaningful relationships are based upon caring for one another. I’ve received dozens of calls and emails over the past few weeks from colleagues just to ‘check in’. Letting me know they were thinking of me and seeing how my family was doing. These ‘check-ins’ demonstrated that these friends cared about me and my family. Naturally, the focus for most of us has been on figuring out how to work from home and taking care of our families. Once these immediate needs have been taken care of, take 15 minutes to call a colleague or client. Or write them a hand-written note to say hello. Let them know you’re there for them if you can be helpful.
Idea #3: Time for Learning & Reflecting
Without the commute and the work volume, many of us have found that we have extra time in our day. It’s a great opportunity to get better at our craft: read new books, listen to podcasts, research online, and watch video tutorials. Pick a topic that you want to get better at and use the extra time in your day for getting better at what you do. We’re always complaining that we don’t have enough time. Well, for many of us, we now have the time. It’s a great opportunity to finally read the books that have been stacking up on our bedside table. Take 1 hour today for learning about something that will make you better at what you do.
Thinking about our future career aspirations is a luxury that many of us don’t have most of the time. We’re too busy with the doin’ to have much time for the thinkin’. Use this time to think about your work. Where do you want to see your practice in the next 3 years? What type of work would you like to see yourself doing? What clients would you like to be serving? What do you want to be seen as the go-to expert for? How can you improve the service that you provide your clients? These big strategic decisions are often the first thing to get pushed aside when we’re busy. Take 30 minutes today to write down your goals for the future. Place this goal list on your office wall and use it as a road map to the future you want to create.
I hope these 3 ideas help you deepen your client relationships in these times. And, assist you in creating the future you want to see.
Be well and stay in touch.