Client Engagement and Authentic Demonstrations of Gratitude
By Paula Zirinsky
I recently did a podcast with Edward Lovatt for Passle’s CMO Series. We spoke about clients, romance, and how a law firm and legal marketers can up their client engagement game. We covered quite a bit of ground on what firms must do, for instance, romance, do not just date your clients. A series of transactional, one-night stands is not a way to cultivate a long-term relationship. And we talked about what lawyers and other professionals should not do: Never take a client relationship for granted. Merely saying thanks may not be enough. You need to be there. Take responsibility. Demonstrate gratitude.
This made me start thinking about demonstrations of gratitude in a broader context. To show gratitude to clients, regardless of their size, and employees, regardless of their position, must emanate from a firm’s senior leadership based on their actions. One can never underestimate how important tone from the top is within an organization. And closely tied to this, the authenticity of that gratitude.
I used to write internal communications updates for the CEO of a company I formerly worked for. Mostly inhouse, state of the firm outlooks, that sort of thing. Another member of the leadership team suggested that I always start with a thank you — an expression of gratitude to the employee team. Yes, the CEO was there to impart information. And the updates were just that. But also noting how much he appreciated the team — publicly — was quite meaningful.
Easy enough done. But it was another member of the leadership team who I felt really understood how to authentically demonstrate gratitude. On my first anniversary at that company, he took the time to write a personal note to me — not an email, not a text message, not a quick nod in the hall — an old fashioned, written in ink note card. And yes, I have saved that card. I have to imagine, if he wrote that card to me, how thoughtful must he be to his clients as well.
Gratitude does show a vulnerability, a more human side to the person. Going back to where I started, romance those you show gratitude to, do not just date them. Gratitude can get you past the one-night stand, past the transactional engagement, and on the road to being a trusted advisor.
Gratitude makes people happy. When you give them a huge, heartfelt thanks, for at least a few moments, they know they have done something good for the world.
Be creative. Do not just wait for a specific new matter or win to show gratitude. Years ago, a professional colleague asked if I would like to fill a table at an event, one they were sponsoring at a posh venue in New York City. They also suggested that this might be an opportunity for me to thank my network of supporters and advisors. I jumped on this. Many of my supporters did not know one another but had heard of each other. And all were delighted to attend and meet the others. It was, bar none, the best table conversation in the room. When the breakfast ended, everyone left as if they were longtime friends, most have remained so ever since and, more importantly, everyone expanded their professional network just as I reinforced mine.
Client engagement can never be taken for granted. Referral sources, including advisors, can never be taken for granted. And your extended team, those supporting you as you went after new business, regardless of whether a win or a loss, should never be taken for granted. And this needs to be supported at the top of any organization.
So, as we continue to romance our clients, our referrers, our advisors, and our teams let us all start with a genuine demonstration of gratitude, and dare I say a handwritten letter of thanks? Making authentic demonstrations of gratitude needs to be part of your personal branding.
You can click here to view/listen to the portion of the podcast on gratitude.
What’s your favorite way to show thanks?