It’s time to say goodby to your client or to the project or assignment.
It’s clear that you have completed the work: the tooth has been pulled, the transaction closed, or the bridge constructed.
But what about the relationship? An important step remains: completing the relationship.
Endings are important. They are occasions to mark.
How do you mark the completion of this stage of your relationship with your client ? It could be anything from a celebratory dinner to a final billing statement saying “thanks for the opportunity to serve you.”
This is a time to celebrate what was positive about working together. It’s a time for appreciation. What do you appreciate about this client? Was she patient? Courageous? Creative? Fun? Smart? Tell her.
This is a time when you can ask for feedback. What went well? What can you do better next time? Whatever feedback the client gives you, treat it as a precious gift. The correct response is “thank you.”
Saying goodbye does not mean you will never see each other again. It can mean graduating to the next stage. Do you have an “alumni association” of long-term clients? This is the time to invite selected clients to join this inner circle.
Before this conversation, you will already have had a conversation inviting additional work: informing your client of other ways you can serve him; informing your client of how to notice when colleagues have problems you can help them with (and how to make that referral). This is not necessarily what you want to cover in the completion conversation, but it may be appropriate in your situation.
When you enter each client relationship knowing it will end with style and grace, that will add texture to the entire relationship.
How you complete this stage of your relationship says something about who you are and it lays the foundation for building the next stage.
Photo credit: Sara Fierce