Studies show that happy clients tell very few of their friends about great client care experiences, while unhappy clients tell (on average) seven other people about problems they experienced. I’d like to share three client stories that I’ve labeled the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly, each with lessons you can learn about how to treat your clients.
The good: Good Measure Meals
I’ve previously shared how much I love Good Measure Meals, a service that provides fresh packaged meals that are healthy and taste great. What I haven’t shared until today is that their customer service makes me even happier than their meals. When I was unexpectedly out of town for a few days and missed a meal pick-up, Phil sent an email to see if I was ok and to inquire whether I was having any problems with the meals. When I switched from meal pick-up to delivery one week and mentioned that I’d switch back the next week, Harmony told me that she’d change it back for me, and she called me to let me know that she’d done so. And when my monthly plan was up for renewal, Harmony again reached out to ask if I wanted to make any changes before the plan renewed.
What can you learn from Good Measure Meals? Be proactive with your clients. Look for ways to make it even easier to work with you. And when you tell a client you’ll do something, do it.
The bad: Unnamed doctor’s office
I had a bad experience in a doctor’s office a few weeks ago. I arrived around 8:25 for an 8:30 appointment and happened to take a seat in the waiting room with a view through the receptionist’s seating area straight through to a back hallway. While I waited (and watched the minutes tick by), I observed an animated conversation between two members of the doctors’ staff. The conversation seemed to center on a lampshade that one woman was holding, and it went on for about 15 minutes. (I remember because I was puzzled how a conversation about a lampshade could last that long, but I digress.)
Imagine my surprise when I was finally called for my appointment around 8:50 – by “Kate,” the woman who’d been talking lampshades. What did I learn? That Kate had no regard for my schedule and put interior decorating ahead of patients. In fact, because the lampshade was on a table in the office I was directed to, I casually mentioned it, only to learn that Kate had purchased the lampshade for her apartment that morning. And the apology for the delay? Nonexistent. I’ve been a patient in this practice for more than thirty years (seeing first the father, then the son), but I won’t be back.
What can you learn from this doctor’s office? Value your clients’ time. That means not only being on time for appointments (or apologizing when you’re unavoidably delayed), but also leaving clients sufficient time to review work product, to ask questions, and so on.
The ugly: Unnamed law firm
I recently heard a story that blew my mind. Short version: a firm represented a client in a divorce. About two months after the matter was concluded, the client received an invoice for fees incorrectly posted to her file, and as a part of clearing that up, the client requested the return of remaining escrow and trust funds. A month went by; no funds received. The client inquired again. About a week later, she received checks from the firm, addressed in her married name, even though the firm had drafted the final order that (among other things) restored her maiden name. The client shared that although she had used her maiden name exclusively since contacting the firm, the firm used her married name instead and she didn’t address it because it seemed so petty. Asked how the rest of the representation went, she snorted and responded, “Well, aside from the fact that my own lawyer didn’t know my name, I suppose it wasn’t bad.”
What can you learn from this law firm? The obvious answer: use your client’s name and get it right. Don’t ever put your client in the position of needing to correct or to overlook something so basic. The deeper lesson is that it’s important to let your client know that you’re paying attention to details. Although the use of the wrong name didn’t affect the client’s representation, it did make her wonder what other details the firm might be ignoring. You must not only represent your client well, you must also create the perception that you’re doing so, especially in matters in which your client is unable to judge the merits of the work you’re doing.
The bottom line
We can all ignore the “niceties” of working with clients, focusing instead on the heart of the representation, which is the legal work. However, your clients will notice everything, and they may evaluate the client service you offer more thoroughly than the legal service. Switch your way of thinking: if your legal service is the meat of the representation, client service is the bread that holds together the engagement sandwich.
And why does this matter? Clients are at the heart of your practice. If you’re seeking to become your clients’ trusted advisor, or to receive referrals from your clients, you must focus on client service.
Two quotes to hammer this point home:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- Maya Angelou
“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
- Theodore Roosevelt