Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Issue 722)

In which we are reminded to pay attention to our clients ‘FEELINGS’ as well as their facts.

Imagine this:

You are a bank relationship manager. Alpha Company has been one of your clients. For one reason or another, you decide to leave the bank and take another position. You call your client at Alpha to share the news and tell the client that Susan Smith will be the successor relationship manager.

The client says, “Good for you and I’m sad to see you go. I’ve developed a good level of trust in you.”

“Thank you,” you reply. “I’ve enjoyed our work together.”

“Well, now that you’re leaving,” continues your client, “I’d like to speak frankly with you.”

Typically, good things do not follow that opening.

“I am concerned about our relationship with the bank, now that you’re leaving.  Your colleagues at the bank all feel cold to me. There’s no warmth there. They’re all very matter of fact, just the facts, let’s get on with it. I don’t feel any connection to them at all.”


“I understand,” you reply. “On the other hand, you’ve worked primarily with me. I think as you get to know Susan, you’ll develop a good relationship with her. She has years of experience and is one of our very best relationship managers.”

“I’m willing to give Susan a chance,”  responds the client, “and I just want you to know that your departure puts this relationship on thin ice because I really don’t feel any kinship with Susan or anyone else at the bank.  They just feel cold, driven, and task oriented.”

You quickly reach out to Susan and Ed Begley, your Division Exec, and share the conversation with them.

Several hours pass.

An email appears in your inbox,  a cc of an email from Ed Begley to your (now former) client:

Dear (Client),

I hope your day is going well. I spoke with (your departing RM) about your conversation regarding her transition. As a business owner, you know that people come and go within your organization and it’s our job to make sure that clients don’t experience any change in quality of service.  Our structure is built specifically to handle a transition like this. Despite (your departing RM’s) leaving there are still four or five people here who know you, your business, and where we are with all your services. I can assure you that Susan is one of our best and brightest and you will benefit from her experience and insight.



Now, I’m just wondering.  Is it just me? Am I being oversensitive or unreasonable? Or do you think Ed might have picked up the phone for a conversation? … To inject warmth?… To develop kinship?…. To address the client’s feelings in the relationship?

Thin ice, indeed, baby. It’s cold outside.

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