I have a dog. Each morning when I go downstairs to make the coffee, she’s standing there waiting.

She greets me with her dog smile, and as soon as she hears the click and gurgle of the coffeemaker, she retreats to her bed, knowing that all’s well in her master’s world. I think she just wants me to know that she’s available as a trusted friend, in case I need her. My dog knows my routine, and she’s adapted to it. She anticipates it each day, without fail. My dog knows anticipation.

If any family member, friend or neighbor comes into our home, the dog will greet them with all the domestic enthusiasm she can muster. She focuses on that person as though they are the only person on the planet. She makes them feel appreciated, and best of all, she’s extremely genuine. I don’t think dogs can fake sincerity. Few humans can engage with other humans the way a happy dog can. My dog knows engagement.

I remember times when our son or daughter was not feeling well, and napping on the sofa. The dog would sit like a sentry next to the sofa, showing an unwavering sense of caring until her human was feeling better. My dog knows empathy.

Anticipation, engagement, and empathy are skills that dogs have mastered. And coincidentally, those same skills, done well and done consistently, can build long-term loyal relationships with clients, friends and family. But for the sake of this article, let’s focus on the clients.

How well do you and your employees anticipate your clients’ needs? Do you capture information about their product consumption patterns, product usage and lifestyle habits, and study the information to see the trends that will help you anticipate their future needs? Do you ever have open conversations with your clients, outside of the sales process, asking them how you can better adapt the service delivery to suit their exact needs?

When the needs do arise, are you there with the reliability of a trusted friend to fill those needs? Or do you merely react to their requests? What else can you do to get better at anticipating?

How well do you and your employees engage with your clients, and your prospects? Do you make the engagement something that will stand out from the other routine transactions and meetings that your client experiences each day? Or do you make a conscientious effort to transform engagements into experiences that become memorable, and stand apart from routine transactions? Do you engage with your clients in a way that will cause each one to feel that he or she must be your most valued client, because you treated them that way? Approaching routine encounters with a little more creativity and enthusiasm is something that’s easy to do, while costing very little, and will absolutely be noticed and remembered by your clients.

How well do you empathize with your clients? While our dogs possess a great sense of intuition, we humans have to rely on other methods to know what’s happening in our clients’ worlds. Unless you talk to each of your clients every day, and ask them lots of questions about what’s new, you may have to resort to other means to stay informed.

For this, a simple use of technology comes to mind.

Set a Google Alert for each of those clients whose worlds you wish to know better, and you’ll start to know more about them very quickly. (If you’re not familiar with Google Alerts, just “google” Google Alerts, and you’ll become a fast expert.)

As the Alerts tell you more about your clients, you’ll be in a much better position to serve them as a truly informed, trusted advisor. Do this well, and do it consistently, and your clients will sense the empathy.

Dogs are fascinating creatures. They have the innate skills to anticipate with regularity, engage with sincerity, and empathize with insight. When it comes to customer relationships, dogs can surely be our best friend, if we take the time to follow their lead.