I spoke with a lawyer whom I’d advised a while back about how his efforts to reconnect with some of his best clients were going and he told me a fascinating story. He’s been meeting them for breakfast or lunch and asking them how they’d like his firm to improve and what they thought about a new service he’s thinking of launching. Not surprisingly, his clients were stunned that he would actually spend time with them without billing them. Once they got over their shock, they gave him some excellent feedback and helped him refine his new service idea. Most said they would sign up for it and to be sure to let him know when it was ready.
Most importantly, though, was what came next. He said that his firm had really screwed up with one client–no two ways about it. The client actually told him that if they hadn’t gone out to lunch last month, he’d have fired his lawyer over this. But, because the relationship had been built & loyalty established, he was willing to allow the firm to make good rather than storming out the door.
The lesson is threefold:
- If you wait until you need them, it is too late to build relationships.
- Relationships can help you define new products and services
- Relationships can get you out of a bind and allow you time to salvage a customer
Get out and build those relationships, one good client at a time.