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Here are the three things I love most about the house we moved into this past July:

  • The sunsets. We are up on a little hill; the field behind us faces west and is wide open. Beautiful, nearly every night.
  • The quiet. The bathroom fans are practically silent. The steps to the basement don’t squeak. The kitchen drawers are unslamable.
  • The size. It’s small. If you can’t find something–a shoe, a hat, a spouse–there are only a couple of possible places to look; everything is right there.

But you know what’s most interesting about the items on this list? I didn’t anticipate any of them.

They all fall under the heading of “after the fact” benefits... things that never even occurred to me before we moved in.

Plus, they are all “soft features.”

What I mean is that unlike the fact-based considerations that we spent so much time on before building the house–square footage, location of electrical outlets, kitchen options, etc.–these things are very subjective and hard to quantify.

They are not the kinds of things that made their way into any of the spec sheets, proposals or sales pitches put in front of us.

And yet, I’ve come to realize, it’s these unanticipated, soft features that I regularly point out when people come over for the first time. These are the things that delight us and that come to mind first when I think about the house.

Clients don’t always know what they are buying

If you buy a hot dog at a ball game, there’s not much surprise in the outcome (hopefully). You pay your money, you get your food, all done.

When you buy a professional service, on the other hand, it’s more complicated. With things like executive coaching, or financial advice, or management consulting, there are many more unknowns.

Your clients are making a best guess, but they don’t really know what it’s going to be like to work with you.

In these cases, like buying a house, the things that clients get excited about–and, in turn, that cause them to fall in love with you–are also, often, the soft stuff that they can’t see beforehand.

And so it makes sense to deliberately add these things into the mix, when possible.
Things like...

  • Offering more time. Is the call scheduled for one hour? You could stop it abruptly as planned or, if you’re at an important point in the conversation, you could say “no worries” and run over a little bit.
  • Offering more scope. Did you agree to write a 10-page web site and suddenly page eleven is needed? How about throwing it in for no additional charge?
  • Being more available. Do your clients only have your office number? Give the special ones your cell phone too and invite them to call or text any time. Few of them will ever take you up on it, but the fact that they can reach you if needed is high value.
  • Going above and beyond. Did your client just have knee surgery? Send him some brownies. Was your client featured in a trade magazine? Get the article framed and send it to her.

You get the picture. They are not expecting any of this, which is what makes it all the more special.

Here’s the bottom line. Each of us, as professional service providers, has several opportunities each day to throw in a little bit more than what people think they are paying for.

Does it cost you more in time, money and effort? Sometimes.

But if you want clients to remember you, rehire you, and loudly sing your praises, I can’t think of a more worthwhile investment.

Michael Katz is Founder and Chief Penguin of Blue Penguin Development. He specializes helping professional service providers position themselves as Likeable Experts. Sign up for his free newsletter, The Likeable Expert Gazette, here.