… received a birthday email from my dentist.


It was fine – and it was 100% automated.

Pretty much the happy birthday equivalent of seeing “Have a nice day” printed on the bottom of your gas station receipt.

It’s not doing any damage, but in terms of moving the needle on customer relationships, it’s a big fat zero.

We all need to be efficient (especially if you are a tiny professional service firm), and that necessarily involves some degree of automation.

But try not to let the process goal of efficiency get in the way of the (bigger) retention goal of connection.


… spoke to a human being.


I’ve been on the phone a lot this week: Cable company, mortgage company, health insurance company.

The experiences were good enough, but pretty much as expected: Twenty+ minutes on hold, multiple transfers, a lot of time listening closely since, apparently, “our menu options have changed.”

This morning, I called my home insurance company: Bunker Hill Insurance.

Three things caught my attention, all of which hinted at the size of the operation:

1. The woman who picked up the phone just said, “Hi, this is Elizabeth.” No boilerplate jargon.

2. She had a very distinctive, local (Boston) accent.

3. After I explained the situation (accidental double-payment), she said she would “keep an eye out for my check and send a refund right away.”

Keep an eye out? You mean the person on the phone actually has some connection to the operation itself?

We are all so used to dealing with gigantic call centers that interacting with a friendly, knowledgeable local business is a bit of a shock.

If you’re a tiny professional service firm that is trying to appear bigger than you really are, I think you may be leaning in the wrong direction.


… attended a networking lunch event.

I don’t love these kinds of things. I’d much rather go home and have lunch with my wife.

But I do find that they are nearly always worthwhile. As much as I enjoy digital communication, there is something about meeting people in person that you don’t get otherwise.

Two things I’ve found that help get me in my car and go each month:

1. It’s a membership group, not simply “a networking event.” That means you tend to see the same people over and over again – it’s relationship-building, not just introductions.

2. It’s an expensive group with a one-year commitment. Having paid my money, I’m much more likely to stay involved!

Commit to getting out of your office. There’s a different type of connection in speaking with people face-to-face (even if it’s my face).


… am going home early.


With the holiday tomorrow, it’s a quiet day, not much happening.

Fifteen years ago, though, quiet or not, I’d be here at my desk all day.

Somehow, I got the idea that until I “became successful,” I had to always be working: Do the work when it’s there; chase the work when it isn’t.

Then somebody said: “How would you behave if you were already successful?”

That was a stop-in-your-tracks question.

The funny thing is, when you start making decisions that way, it starts to happen.

Go home. That’s what all the successful people are doing today.


… spent all morning rewriting my home page.


It’s just 121 words (I counted).

That’s a lot of time on a very little bit of content.

But if you want to attract the right clients on a regular basis, it makes sense to pay as much attention to the front end of the process (marketing) as to the work itself.

Give your own home page a look.

Does it still do a good job of describing who you are and the value you provide?

(Did it ever?)