The Client Service Relationship Ladder

If there is only one maxim to live by, when it comes to relationships, it must be “see it from their side”.

In business, If I know what the other side sees, feels, wants…  then I’ve given myself a direction, a goal to work towards.   I can focus my service towards that goal.  And when my service is really helpful, good things can happen.

Relationships, of any kind, are built over time.  Step by step, our relationship grows.  As a result, the greater the potential benefit of our relationship, to you, and to me.  This is my understanding of relationships.  Of course, relationships are messy, and it’s easy to ignore the incremental approach, and go for the prize without doing the work.  Wrong!  I know, as I’ve been bitten by that snake, too many times.

To help me visualize work relationships, from seed to full bloom, I’ve come up with this ladder.  The ladder looks at our relationship, from your eyes.

Client Service Relationship Ladder

How do you make all of this happen?

One way is to borrow a concept frequently used by nonprofits, the ladder of engagement.  The ladder is a simple, yet compelling, idea that your organization will be more successful at gaining (and keeping) new supporters if you ask them to engage in quick and easy ways, before asking them to take bigger and more meaningful actions. There are some good examples of ladders of engagement in Beth Kanter and Katie Paine’s book, Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World.

The client service relationship ladder builds on Three Questions in your client’s mind, a post I did, last month.  It’s about stepping in their shoes.  In our world of instant (personal) gratification and distributed attention, it’s so easy to lose sight of how important it is, to make the effort to step to their side.

You want to be helpful.  Best to be helpful to your client as they would want it.  Make their day.  In Kare Anderson’s (very helpful!) Forbes article from last weekend, Five Ways Helpfulness Wins Hearts and Sales, she references Jay Baer’s latest book, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype, I want to read it.  I think it’ll inform me more about truly being helpful.  

Do you have a visual for reflecting on relationships?  What does it look like for you?

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