Valentine’s Day is on the horizon and stores are filled with overpriced flowers and red and pink candy shaped like hearts. In honor of this Hallmark holiday, my editors asked me, “How do you show love to clients?” (I assume by “love” they mean “appreciation.”)
My first thought was, “If you need a holiday to remind you to tell people that you appreciate them, you’re doing it wrong.” Appreciation and gratitude should be free-flowing every day to everyone who contributes to your happiness and success.
This concept includes your clients, colleagues and, of course, support staff. The legal industry is a service industry. While it is a privilege to serve our clients, we couldn’t do it alone. Every day, our firm’s receptionist passes my door as she walks to our mailboxes. I like to randomly say, “Hey Peggy, you’re awesome!” I want her to know that she makes the lives of everyone in the firm easier — especially mine. She screens my calls, processes my bills, and keeps the office kitchen stocked with fruit snacks.
A nice way to let clients know they matter is to connect with them even when it’s not about their case or paying their bill. When is the last time you called or emailed just to check in on how a client’s doing? A related idea: I frequently do an initial consultation with clients to review their situation and provide a list of recommendations for their future legal needs. I then follow up some weeks later to see if they are implementing the suggestions and if they need assistance — with anything. (Want help remembering to make these kinds of calls? I recommend FollowUpThen.com.)
If you want to make a more concrete gesture of appreciation, try to give something you believe the particular person will enjoy. The minimalist probably doesn’t want a coffee mug with your firm’s logo on it, and your vegetarian colleague may not want to be treated to dinner at a steakhouse. Be creative and personalize it — the recipient will appreciate that you cared enough to think of them as an individual. If, for example, my firm wanted to give our receptionist a thank-you gift, we’d probably look into getting her tickets to the next NASCAR event (she really likes NASCAR).
Don’t wait for a holiday to tell someone you care about them. A message coming spontaneously from the heart matters the most.