Sorry for the lack of metric measures but going the extra mile for your client is better than a kilometer. There are about 2000 steps in a mile and about 1320 steps in a kilometer and those extra 680 steps could really mean something important.
I asked a dozen or so of my colleagues the following question “what is the most unusual thing you have done for a client outside the bounds of the engagement?”
Here are some of the answers:
1) Bought hard-to-get tickets for them for a concert at one of the destinations they were at
2) Brought the client a box of Live Atlantic Lobster
3) Brought the client Real Canadian Maple Syrup
4) Brought the client frozen “moose” burgers
5) Brought the client to my cottage when they were visiting on vacation
6) Played Santa Claus for their kids Christmas party
7) Brought the client fresh Pacific Salmon
8) Dropped a birthday package off for the client for a relative in my home city.
9) Cooked dinner for them
10) Took them to Niagara Falls
11) Watched their dog for a weekend.
12) Went with the client on a Habitat-for-Humanity build
13) Took a 5 minute movie of a polar bear for the client’s child’s science project
14) Brought the client some Southern Pecans.
Do you notice any commonality in the list? They are all things that you would do for or with a friend. They are not things that you would be compelled to do and they are all pretty easy to do and likely enjoyable. I asked two follow-on questions to each person who responded.
- Would you do it again?
- How would you describe your relationship with that client today?
Uniformly the answers were: a) of course I would do it again and b) all of the clients were either still great clients and/or long term friends. On long term projects where you are able to fully develop a team, you will also develop some friendships. There is no rule that says you cannot be a professional consultant, a trusted advisor and a trusted friend at the same time. While friendship with a client increases the possibility of a conflict of interest, it does not need to increase the probability of it. I think that the strongest client relationships make for the best decision-making and productive environments. You can remain detached and clinical with your clients but I believe the benefits outweigh the risks for taking those extra 2000 steps.