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Bringing the WOW to Your Client Relationships

April 27, 2021

On July 6, 2021 I will celebrate 25 years with Nationwide.  When I reflect back over the past 25 years, I’m reminded of the familiar adage – “Time flies!”  But what I remember most are the many relationships I’ve made over the years.

Relationships built upon trust and openness

I’m reminded of The Trust Equation1, a concept adapted from David H. Maister’s book, The Trusted Advisor, that focuses on building rapport and trust.  It consists of four components:

  • Credibility – can others trust what you say? It’s about your words.  Credibility is created by being seen as knowledgeable about an area, subject, or process.
  • Reliability – can others trust you to …? It’s about your actions.  Reliability is created by being dependable and consistent in what you say and do, and the experiences are repeatable.
  • Professional Intimacy – are others comfortable entrusting you with information? This is about emotions.  It’s an emotional connection which supports a sense of safety and security relative to sharing.
  • Other orientation – can others trust that you care about them? It’s about your motives.  While this component consists of several behaviors, three of the behaviors include:  defining the problem and not guessing at the solution, hearing the client’s story before telling your own, and adding value after listening rather than during listening.

Collectively, Credibility + Reliability + Professional Intimacy + Other Orientation = Trustworthiness.

In his book, It Starts with Clients, Andrew Sobel states that in order to develop trusting relationships with clients, you must always add value.  Adding value can be in the form of in-depth expertise, quality work, or sharing good ideas.2

What is a WOW experience?

Cultivating strong relationships is important because they help you get new clients, retain your current clients, and lead to new opportunities.  Delivering a WOW experience is such an opportunity.  What is a WOW experience?  “It is that unexpected, thoughtful gesture that makes your clients realize that you offer more than professional advice – you create a truly personalized service experience – a level of service that seems unique to them.”3

Now more than ever, people are looking for that individual or organization that stands out from the rest.  A WOW experience can be the differentiator between doing business with you or someone else.  When you consider your client relationships, what opportunities are there for you to wow them?  Who’s been with you the longest, and have you taken time to thank them?  Who is celebrating a major milestone, either personal or professional, and have you recognized it?  Creating a WOW experience will look different for each client because it is customized to fit their needs.  Maybe it’s an interesting article you read that you know your client will enjoy.  Maybe it’s delivering something so unexpected it makes the client say, “How did they make that happen?  Or, how did they know me so well?”  Perhaps it’s just offering a listening ear to a client during a difficult time.

In the words of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  For me, that is the real definition of a WOW experience.


  • Maister, David H., Green, Charles H., and Galford, Robert M. (2000). The Trusted Advisor. Simon & Schuster.

    Sobel, A. (2020). It Starts with Clients (Your 100-day Plan to Build Lifelong Relationships and Revenue). Wiley Publisher.

    Janus Lab Publication. The Book of WOW. P.3.