Unless you are brand new to the business, you have experienced the death of a client’s spouse or significant other.
You feel comfortable with the conversations you need to have and the actions you need to take if your personality style* is amiable or expressive. If, on the other hand, you are analytical or a driver, those conversations may be challenging. Coming up with heartfelt ideas to support the surviving spouse, and honor the departed, will be difficult.
Doing something special doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming. Being prepared, however, is key to the success of the encounter or gesture.
Here are a few ideas to keep in touch with the surviving spouse, get the adult children more involved, and let the family know you care:
- Make a donation to an organization the deceased supported – in the name of the deceased.
- Ask the surviving spouse if there is a child or close friend who they would like to participate in meetings.
- Let the surviving spouse know that you are ready to listen when he or she is ready to talk.
- Reach out after the first three months to invite the surviving spouse to lunch.
- Change the meeting frequency for the surviving spouse to quarterly for the first year, just to stay in touch.
- Contact the children to see how their mother or father is doing. Ask what you can do to help.
- Ask the survivor which of their children would be the one to reach out to you if something were to happen to them. "Wouldn't it be nice for us to meet before they have to make that call to my office?"
- If you or someone on your team has little ones, a visit to the home of the surviving spouse could add a welcome distraction.
- Send flowers to the surviving spouse on the one-year anniversary of the death with a note letting him or her know how much you miss their spouse too. Include a heartfelt or humorous story you remember about the dearly departed.
Since a higher percentage of deaths occur around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, it’s a good idea to know what you and your team should do if you get the unfortunate news that a client has died.
If you do something special, or have heard of a good idea not mentioned here, please let me know. I am always looking for new ideas. That’s how this list was created.
* Information on personality styles, sometimes called working styles, can be found online and in chapter 12 of Customer Service for Dummies.