One of our clients was a widow in her early 50s. Her husband died a few years ago and she has uncomplainingly raised their four kids and managed their household. She wanted to buy a car and spoke to one of our advisors, Kathleen, about what she should get. She mentioned this would be the first time she bought an automobile without her husband, and she felt anxious. Kathleen offered to meet her at the dealership and they did the deal together.

Here's a fun question: Could artificial intelligence do what Kathleen did at the car dealership? Maybe the car-buying experience will change in the future, but is it likely that people will stop wanting to be seen and understood by others?

Let’s take another one of our clients, who was having problems with her very old cell phone. She could not use some features she wanted, and she was not technologically gifted. My partner, Wil, offered to go with her to the Apple Store to get her set up on a new phone and computer. He told her to bring her iPad so she could integrate everything.

So now consider this question: Will this client likely be complaining to us in the future about why her diversified portfolio is trailing the S&P 500? Maybe. But she also knows that no one will walk with her to the store the way Wil did.

Another client once left our firm to go to a large, well-respected competitor where a number of his friends were clients. He was disappointed in the level of service there and came back to us within a year. When we looked over his portfolio to see what we needed to do, we found that the other firm had sold him out of the low-cost direct index program we’d put him in and invested his money in an exchange-traded fund mirroring the same index. He incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital gains without any improvement in his equity position.

How can that even happen? We often compete with this firm. Its story is similar to ours. So it’s almost impossible for a client or someone interviewing firms to know what they are not getting or what they are missing when they go to somebody who is actually very different.

No, we do not do everything right. But what we want our clients to experience is “unreasonable hospitality.” We want them to know and feel that they are important to us and that we understand them and are looking out for them. Obviously most advisors feel this way, but the question is how do they integrate it into their practices?

Author and restauranteur Will Guidara has written a book called Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect. In it, he writes, “Black and white means you’re doing your job with competence and efficiency; color means you make people feel great about the job you are doing for them.” The challenge is moving people from seeing things in black and white to color. It doesn’t happen by being more efficient. It doesn’t come from simply completing tasks. It comes from the slow work of paying close attention to what is going on in your client’s life and acting on it. It comes from stretching the concept of fiduciary so that you’re not only putting your clients’ interests first, but simultaneously expanding the scope of their interests. It is grueling work. But it’s also fulfilling.

At our firm we’ve created book clubs, held cultural roundtables, called regular all-staff meetings, held advanced planning roundtables and education meetings and offered weekly catch-up sessions for all the important things going on that our advisors need to be aware of. And we try to highlight the things our advisors have done for clients that went above and beyond the clients’ expectations.

Still, it’s much easier to be a good technical planner than an unreasonably hospitable one.

I have heard some people say that they are not trained therapists so they should not get into discussions with clients that border on therapy. While that may be true, we all know what it is like to be or have a friend, and we generally know how to act when a friend needs our help. In fact, we may suggest therapy to this friend. We often do the same thing with our clients. We get paid for the hard discussions, not the easy ones. If you can’t be a therapist, at least be a friend. That is unreasonable hospitality.

It also means making sure everyone is seen and valued. This shouldn’t be too difficult, because everyone is valuable in different ways. If we are instead moving too fast in our advisory roles—if we are merely checking things off of our to-do list—we are most likely not seeing people. I once heard a speaker at a conference say, “When someone pops into your head, reach out to them.” That sentence has had an incredible impact on my life and career. It takes almost no time to reach out to people through a personal note, email or phone call, and I can’t tell you how much it meant to people to hear I was thinking of them. I know how much it has meant to me when someone has done the same. I don’t think it is time that stops us from doing this. I think it is fear—fear of rejection, fear of them thinking we want something, fear of being perceived as a sycophant. But even if those things happen, so what?

At a recent book club meeting, a colleague said that one of our former co-workers popped into his head, so he sent him an email. He found out this person had moved back to Minneapolis. They met for coffee and had a great time. If he second-guessed himself before he sent the email, he would have lost the opportunity to reconnect.

There are inevitably times when you feel that what’s best for your business will come into conflict with what’s best for your client. Take the client whose firm sold them out of our direct index investment to put them in a different index. The other firm may have had specific models for managing money and did so in order to create business efficiencies. But after 40 years in practice, I encourage you to put the thumb on the scale for doing the inconvenient thing if it means something better for the client. It may not be possible to do this in every situation, but you should lean toward ways you can do it rather than reasons you can’t.

Guidera says, “The value of a gift isn’t about what went into giving it, but how the person receiving it feels.” You don’t need to spend a lot of money on hospitality; you just need to be completely present. One of our clients was going to start her term as Rotary president and she was nervous about her first meeting. We sent her a supportive note the morning of the meeting, and she wrote back later to say how inspiring that was for her and how well the meeting had gone. The cost for us in doing this was zero—it meant simply keeping track of when her meeting was. It was zero financial cost, yet it was also priceless.

As you think about some of the highest impact things you can do in building your practice, think about what you can give. It will make your staff, your clients and you feel better about the work you are doing.

Ross Levin is co-founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina, Minn.