Do right by your clients.

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”


In the 90s, whenever the phone would ring at our architecture firm, someone would sing out with excitement: “Customers!”

Remember, this was in the days before we carried our phones around with us and even before Caller ID or spam calls, so you never knew who would be there on the other end of the line when you picked up. The point is, we were always eager to talk with our clients, or to hear from someone new. Clients – or customers – are what make a business hum.

Doing right by them is doing right by your business.


“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”


I recently heard about a major airline that announced they’re getting rid of change fees – forever. Here’s what they said about it: “These days, change is inevitable. But it’s how you deal with that change that matters most, and with that in mind, we’re taking this moment to better support our customers.”


I couldn’t agree more. On my homepage I say something similar. “The test of leadership isn’t whether adversity happens – it’s how you respond.”


So are you up for a little exercise in customer appreciation? Try this:

Take that airline company’s statement and fill in the blanks for how your firm will better support your customers.

“These days, change is inevitable. But it’s how we deal with that change that matters most, and with that in mind, we’re taking this moment to better support our customers. Starting now, you can say goodbye to ___________________ when you ______________. And starting in January, we will be the only _____________________ to let our customers __________________.”


Use your own phrasing so it feels right for your company. Just let your ideas flow about something really good that only your firm will stop doing and start doing; something your customers will really appreciate; something no one else is doing (yet!). It can be small or big, but it has to remind your client that you’re innovative, that you get them and know what would make a difference to them. Give them something they need right now to feel how delighted you are to have them as a customer.

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Have fun! I’d love to hear what you come up with! You may post your mind-blowing idea in the comments below.
Or, share it privately with me by email if you need to keep it under wraps until the big unveiling.


Images: Grain Terminal, Seattle; Henry Moore sculpture at the lower terrace of the Getty Center, Los Angeles
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