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10 Practical Ways Consultants Can Delight Clients

We’ve all heard about client delight. Perhaps we’ve experienced it ourselves from time to time, and we’d like to think we deliver it to our clients. But do we? Consistently? Fortunately, with clients (and toddlers!) small gestures make a big difference.

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Delivering excellent results, which I assume you do already, creates satisfied clients, but not delighted ones. To enchant the people who hire you you’ll have to go above and beyond good performance. Below are ten, practical, easy-to-implement methods to delight your clients.

10 Practical, Easy Ways Consultants Can Delight Clients

1. Be Responsive

Responsiveness rules. It is so easy to return phone calls quickly, to reply to emails and to respond to requests. Doing everything a client asks for won’t delight them, but attending to them expeditiously will.

2. Manage & Meet Expectations

The trick here is to think beyond the proposal and the project’s kickoff, which is when most consultants focus on expectations. Throughout the project, send reminders of what clients will get and when they’ll get it. And, of course, proactively inform your clients of any changes.

A consultant who subcontracts to me sent me an email this morning letting me know he’d be on vacation next week. That’s not as delightful as sending me two Rangers tickets, but it’s a good start.

3. Make Them Look Good

Dress that client up and position them to be admired. You can accomplish this quickly by giving them a metaphor or framework that helps them articulate their own thoughts better. They’ll be perceived as clearer and more confident, and that makes for happy clients.

4. Show You Understand Them

Reflect the content and emotions of what they’re telling you. Summarize the key points, empathize with their situation, acknowledge their fears, magnify their joy. When? Every conversation.

5. Deliver it Their Way

Similarly, communicate with your clients and deliver your output the way they need and request it, not the way that’s most natural to you. For instance, organize your results based on usefulness, not based on how you arrived at them.

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6. Keep Them On Track

Clients, like everyone else, can become distracted, defocused and derailed. A gentle, guiding hand setting them back on the straight and narrow path to success is much appreciated.

7. Demonstrate They’re #1

Show your clients you put their interests ahead of your own. Recently a client had a $70k credit with me from a project that was halted mid-stream. A few months later when they asked for another project, I suggested an efficient approach with fees lower than their credit. That surprised and delighted them. (Then they opted for an alternative approach that exceeded the credit, which delighted me.)

8. Reveal Blind Spots

Clients clambering over their everyday obstacles often don’t see they’re about to stumble off a cliff. Your perspective can save them from disaster. Take some time to think through what they might be missing. The relief your client feels at a catastrophe avoided quickly turns to immense gratitude.

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9. Be Admirable

Go beyond acting with integrity. Say “No” to requests that are clearly out of scope, don’t take sides in your clients’ squabbles and stay out of their politics. Acquiescing to demands and acting as a buddy can feel like a shortcut to happy clients; however, exhibiting limits and boundaries establishes you as a person to admire and creates more goodwill over the long term.

9.5 Send Chocolate

Not that I’m specifically requesting Scharffen Berger cracked coffee bean chocolate bark from the consultants I hire as subcontractors, of course. But it wouldn’t go astray. (They make a 3-ounce bag. Just saying.)

10. Finish the List

What else do you do to delight your clients? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below.


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9 Comments
  1. Paul Jones
    February 24, 2016 at 5:12 pm Reply

    Great thoughts David. I’ve found that over time, you’ll be exposed to little personal tidbits from your client. Maybe the client has to leave early on a given day because his daughter is playing in a big basketball game later on. So the next time you see the client, you ask how his daughter did in the game last week? It will delight your clients that you took an interest in something that means a lot to them. They’ll be more comfortable around you which makes communication easier and they’ll see you as more than just “another” consultant. Good for business now and good for future business as well. Just make sure you keep the boundaries well defined. You don’t want the client sharing anything with you that, upon reflection, could be embarrassing which will ultimately breed resentment towards you. Like telling you about the time he got caught stealing Scharffen Berger cracked coffee bean chocolate bark…..Just saying.

    • David A. Fields
      February 25, 2016 at 9:29 am Reply

      Paul, your suggestion is terrific – especially for people like you who have the ability to retain personal tidbits. the key, as you allude to, is actually paying attention to those moments a client is being open and human with you so that you can use the opportunity to forge a tighter bond. Thank you for the addition to conversation. (Oh, and I’m sure any local magistrate would understand that Scharffen Berger is worthy of petty theft.)

  2. Y'vonne
    February 24, 2016 at 11:25 pm Reply

    Delivery solutions with actionable results…The only one I think not on the list…Always enjoy your perspective.

    • David A. Fields
      February 25, 2016 at 9:34 am Reply

      You are so right that clients need actionable results, not just theory and high-level recommendations. That’s an outstanding addition to the list, Y’vonne. Thank you for posting it.

  3. Lacey
    March 2, 2016 at 4:23 pm Reply

    A gift tin of Garrett gourmet popcorn is an excellent alternative to chocolate. The tasty varieties (mix, cheese, caramel, buttered or salted, as well as nut varieties) are always a hit. Excellent pointers, as always, David.

    • David A. Fields
      March 3, 2016 at 7:47 am Reply

      Thanks, Lacey. This is why it’s so important to understand your clients well. You could end up sending bacon-apple crumble to a kosher, fruit-allergic decision maker. These are important factors to uncover during the discovery process.

  4. Anatoli Naoumov
    January 6, 2017 at 9:49 am Reply

    David, please help me understand how holding a $70K of client’s credit and then proposing a solution within this credit makes a client feel like #1?

    • David A. Fields
      January 6, 2017 at 11:00 am Reply

      Anatoli, in that example the client felt like I was making them #1 for a couple of reasons:

      1. When they halted a non-cancelable project mid-stream, I didn’t say, “Too bad for you, you lose the full fee on this project.” Rather, I said, “No problem. You have a credit and we can apply that to any future project.” My clients know the projects are non-cancelable and that flexibility demonstrates I’m thinking about them too, not just what’s most profitable for me in the short term.
      2. When the next project came up, I didn’t automatically expand the scope to eat up the full credit. I priced the project appropriately. In this case, that meant there was an alternative that cost less than the credit. If they had chosen that alternative, they would have still had a credit for even more work. That’s putting the client first, and they know it.
      • Anatoli Naoumov
        January 9, 2017 at 9:59 am Reply

        I see your point better now. Thank you.

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