Businessman pushes a big gift on white background

To Gift or Not to Gift

While discussing client recognition with an advisor last month, we started talking about giving gifts to clients as a token of appreciation.

I shared that I’ve never been much of a gift-giver.  Neither is my wife.  For example, we agreed years ago that we wouldn’t give each other anniversary gifts but would simply exchange cards.

This led to a discussion of whether clients feel truly appreciated or “valued” with a small gift.  The advisor said he didn’t see the point of thanking clients in that way.  If he received a similar gift, he wouldn’t think much of it. This prompted me to respond, “Just because you don’t value receiving a gift, that doesn’t mean your clients wouldn’t appreciate it.”

In his book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, author Gary Chapman shares five ways that couples express and receive love:

  1. Words of affection
  2. Quality time
  3. Receiving gifts
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical touch

Couldn’t these expressions also be applied to client relationships (except the last one, of course)?  For example, words of affection could be a card or phone call to communicate your appreciation for the relationship.  Quality time could occur when getting together for lunch or dinner or attending a sporting event.  And acts of service can be found in all the ways you go above and beyond in your client service.

It’s fairly easy to identify your own love language.  Think about what you commonly look for, ask for, and/or give in your relationships.

Identifying someone else’s language is a bit trickier, particularly in a non-romantic situation.  Here are some ways to identify your clients’ love languages:

  • How do they express their appreciation back to you? Most people default to their own love language first.  So, if a client writes you a kind note, that’s a sign that their love language is words of affection.
  • What do they respond to? For example, if you’ve sent gifts to a client on multiple occasions but have never heard a “thank you” in return, perhaps receiving gifts is not their love language. Similarly, if a client talks about how they really enjoy getting together with you away from the office, they probably value quality time.

If you truly want to express your appreciation to a client, make sure you do it in a language they understand.

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